Washington, Nov 18 : UK's next-generation particle accelerator, ALICE, has achieved a major milestone by producing a high-energy particle beam with a total energy of nearly four and a half million electron volts.
Set to underpin the UK's next accelerator-based light source, ALICE is a unique world-class R and D prototype whose cutting edge technology will enable advances in areas including security and medical imaging.
ALICE is based at the Science and Technology Facilities Council's (STFC) Daresbury aboratory and after more than four years of planning and construction, it achieved its first high-energy beam. his brings ALICE one step closer to its completion and to achieving its goal of energy recovery, a critical requirement for the economic viability of such future light sources.
The first high-energy beam was achieved using ALICE's photoinjector, which fired a beam of electrons into a superconducting linear accelerator, creating a particle beam with a total energy of nearly four and a half million electron volts.
The photoinjector is a high-brightness electron gun capable of generating extremely short pulses of electrons, less than a hundred picoseconds in duration.
These pulses are fired into the first linear accelerator (known as the booster) at a rate of 81 million shots per second.
The booster is maintained at a temperature of -271degrees Celsius, at which temperature it becomes superconducting and capable of sustaining very high electric and magnetic fields.
This accelerated beam will eventually be used to generate pulses of infrared, ultraviolet and x-ray light, creating the ultimate stroboscopic light source capable of making real-time movies of chemical reactions at the atomic level.
This capability will have a major impact in research carried out in the fields of drug development, materials science and 'green' technologies.
ALICE produces terahertz radiation which can be used to significantly enhance airport security due to its ability to detect bombs and non-metallic items through clothing that would normally only be possible with a personal search, as well as providing significant potential for non-invasive medical imaging. igh-energy beams from ALICE will also go on to be used to influence technology for new cancer treatments in a linked project known as EMMA.