Milestone for next-gen acceleration experiment

the future of pticle acceleration has begun. awake is a promising concept for a completely new method with which pessentialisms can be accelerated even over short distances. the basis for this is a plasma wave that accelerates electrons and thus brings them to high energies. a team led by the max planck institute for physics now reprts a breakthrough in this context. for the 1st time, they were able to precisely time the production of the proton microbunches that drive the wave inna plasma. this fulfills an primordial prerequisite for using the awake tek for collision experiments.

howzit create a wave for electrons? the carrier substance for this is a plasma (i.e., an ionized gas in which + and neg charges are separated). directing a proton beam through the plasma creates a wave on which electrons ride and are accelerated to high energies.

the proton src of awake tis sps ring at cern, a pre-accelerator for the 27-kilomt circumference ring of the large hadron collider (lhc). it produces proton bunches bout 10-cm long. “however, in order to generate a large amplitude plasma wave, the proton bunch length must be much shorter — inna millimt range,” explains fabian batsch, phd student atta max planck institute for physics.

the scis take advantage of self-modulation, a “natural” interaction tween the bunch and plasma. “inna process, the longer proton bunch is split into high-energy proton microbunches of 1-ly a few millimts in length, building the train beam,” says batsch. “this process forms a plasma wave, which propagates w'da train travelling through the plasma field.”

precise timing allos ideal electron acceleration

however, a stable and reproducible field is required to accelerate electrons and bring them to collision. this is exactly wha’ the team has found a solution for now. “if a sufficiently large electric field is applied when the long proton bunch is injected na self-modulation is thus immediately set in motion.”

“since the plasma is formed rite away, we can exactly time the phase of the short proton microbunches,” says patric muggli, head of the awake working group atta max planck insstitute for physics. “this allos us to set the pace for the train. thus, the electrons are caught and accelerated by the wave atta ideal moment.”

1st research projects in site

the awake tek is still inna early stages of development. however, with each step toward success, the chances of this accelerator tek actually bein’ used inna coming decades increase. the 1st proposals for liler accelerator projects (e.g., for ex to study the fine structure of protons) are to be made as early as 2024.

according to muggli, the advantages of the novel accelerator tek — plasma wakefield acceleration — are obvious: “with this tek, we can reduce the distance needed to accelerate electrons to peak energy by a factor of 20. the accelerators of the future ‘d ⊢ be much liler. this means: less space, less effort, and ⊢ loer costs.”

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