What is a particle accelerator?
A particle accelerator is a machine that uses electromagnetic fields to accelerate the charged particles. There are basically two types of particle accelerator: electrostatic accelerator and oscillating field accelerator.
Electrostatic accelerators use electrostatic fields and do not change with time. Cockcroft-Walton accelerator and Van de Graaff accelerator are the types of an electrostatic accelerator. The main disadvantage of this accelerator is that the electric field should be produced in huge quantity which was difficult to maintain. This is when the oscillating accelerator was developed. The electric field used in the accelerator was dependent on time.
Types of particle accelerators
Following is the list of types of particle accelerators:
- The Cockcroft-Walton and Van de Graaff Accelerator
- The Linear Accelerator
- The Cyclotron
- The Betatron
- The Microtron
- The Synchrocyclotron
- The Synchrotron
- The Storage Ring Collider
The Cockcroft-Walton and Van de Graaff Accelerator
The Cockcroft-Walton accelerator was developed by John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton, and Van de Graaff accelerator was developed by Robert Van de Graaff. Both the accelerators were used to accelerator the charged particles by generating high voltages.
The Linear Accelerator
The linear accelerator was developed by Rolf Wideroe in the year 1927. A series of drift tubes were used to shield the particles from the peaks and anti-peaks of the voltage. If the particles came in contact with the anti-peaks, they would decelerate. The particles should be moving faster and faster throughout the tube with the same speed and in the same time frame. As the tube is long, this became one of the disadvantages of the linear accelerator.
The betatron consists of the main ring and a vacuum chamber. The electrons are produced in the vacuum chamber with the help of an electron gun. AC current is used to produce the magnetic field. The magnetic field is not constant and can be varied depending on the energy of the electrons so that they are within the radius of the orbit.
The microtron is similar to the cyclotron and the electrons are accelerated from the rest to drive them to an ac voltage. The electrons are accelerated from the accelerator cavity under the influence of the magnetic field making them move in the circular motion.
The Synchrocyclotron is a modification of Cyclotron. In synchrocyclotron, the ac voltage frequency does not remain constant and it should be synchronised with the orbital frequency.
The first Synchrotron was built in the year 1954 by Frank Goward and D.Barnes, the two English physicists. The principle behind the Synchrotron is that the accelerated particles should be at the constant orbital radius. The magnetic field strength and the energy of the accelerated particles should be in synchronisation to achieve this. As the energy increases, the magnetic field strength should be increased.
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