AWAKE achieves the first acceleration of electrons using a wave generated by protons zipping through a plasma
The AWAKE collaboration at CERN reports in Nature the first ever successful acceleration of electrons using a wave generated by protons zipping through a plasma.
First proposed in the 1970s, the use of plasma waves (or so called wakefields) has the potential to drastically reduce the size of accelerators in the next several decades. AWAKE, which stands for “Advanced WAKEfield Experiment”, is a proof-of-principle compact accelerator project for accelerating electrons to very high energies over short distances.
Electrons injected into AWAKE at relatively low energies of around 19 MeV (million electronvolts), “rode” the plasma wave, and were accelerated by a factor of around 100, to an energy of almost 2 GeV (billion electronvolts) over a length of 10 metres. Accelerating particles to greater energies over shorter distances is crucial to achieving high-energy collisions that physicists use to probe the fundamental laws of nature, and may also prove to be important in a wide range of industrial and medical applications.
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