Jump directly to the page contents

Challenge #10

Building particle accelerators a thousand times smaller than they are today.

Particle accelerators act as important research tools, but they are large and expensive. We bring them down to a miniature, mobile format, thereby opening up completely new fields of application.

Participating centers

Whether for basic research, medicine or the development of new materials, particle accelerators are indispensable in science and technology. So far, however, these systems are large and expensive to create. Until now, strong radio waves have been used to accelerate the particles, but that takes up space. The alternative is plasma acceleration: short, powerful laser flashes or electron pulses fired into a plasma of electrically charged gas, generating a kind of wake like that of a ship and accelerating particles over the shortest distance possible

At the German Electron Synchrotron DESY, we are working to make the technology ready for practical use and to perfect the quality of the particle beams. The challenge: to shrink a system that is today hundreds of meters long to the size of a single meter and use artificial intelligence to optimize operation all by itself. Their solution: ultra-strong, compact accelerators that fit in the lab basement of a university, a startup or a hospital. Once finished, these devices will be implemented there for imaging and therapy, examining nanomaterials and biomolecules in detail.

(Header: DESY, Science Communication Lab)

News and Views from the Helmholtz Community

Stay up to date with our newsletter “Helmholtz Monthly”!

Read the latest issue Subscribe to Newsletter

Participating centers

As curious as we are? Discover more.