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particle accelerator is a device that uses electromagnetic fields to propel charged particles to high speeds and to contain them in well-defined beams. [1 ]
There are two basic classes of accelerators, known as electrostatic and oscillating field accelerators.
Electrostatic accelerators use static electric fields to accelerate particles. A small-scale example of this class is the cathode ray tube in an ordinary old television set. Other examples are the Cockcroft–Walton generator and the Van de Graaff generator. The achievable kinetic energy for particles in these devices is limited by electrical breakdown. Oscillating field accelerators, on the other hand, use radio frequency electromagnetic fields and circumvent the breakdown problem. This class, which was first developed in the 1920s, is the basis for all modern accelerator concepts and large-scale facilities. Rolf Widerøe, Gustav Ising, Leó Szilárd, Donald Kerst, and Ernest Lawrence are considered as pioneers of this field, conceiving and building the first operational linear particle accelerator, the [2 ] betatron, and the cyclotron. Alongside their best known use in
particle physics as colliders (e.g. LHC, RHIC, Tevatron), particle accelerators are used in a large variety of applications, including particle therapy for oncological purposes, and as synchrotron light sources for fields such as condensed matter physics.
Because colliders can give evidence on the structure of the subatomic world, accelerators were commonly referred to as
atom smashers in the 20th century. Despite the fact that most accelerators (but not [3 ] ion facilities) actually propel subatomic particles, the term persists in popular usage when referring to particle accelerators in general. [4 ] [5 ] [6 ]
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