BOFFINS at the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLAC) National Accelerator Laboratory have demonstrated a "particle accelerator on a chip".
The Stanford University facility believes that the tiny particle accelerator has applications in science and medicine. A series of the miniature accelerators 100 feet long potentially could be more powerful than SLAC's existing two mile long linear accelerator, despite each little segment being a glass chip smaller than a single grain of rice.
In a statement, experiment leader Joel England of SLAC said, "We still have a number of challenges before this technology becomes practical for real-world use, but eventually it would substantially reduce the size and cost of future high-energy particle colliders for exploring the world of fundamental particles and forces."
At a practical level the accelerator could power tiny portable X-ray scanners used for treating military casualties in the field, as well as for use in security operations in airports and a wide range of scientific research.
Before we get too excited, it is worth pointing out that at the moment there is no compact way to get electrons up to the speed that the accelerator can work with, so at this stage, we have a two mile long machine with a tiny working part, but this is a major leap forward toward finding an alternative to microwaves in particle accelerators and making the process more portable.
Stanford University professor and principal investigator Robert Byer added, "Our ultimate goal for this structure is [one] billion electron volts per meter, and we're already one-third of the way in our first experiment."
We hope that this could also lead to the ability to create wormholes into other galaxies. But we doubt it. µ