A particle accelerator, different from those previously mentioned, is the Linear accelerator, designed to move charged particles at high velocities along a straight path to a target. Linear accelerators are comprised of a series of drift tubes mounted inside of an evacuated chamber. The charged particles are fed into one end of the chamber, and accelerated by a alternating high frequency voltage that is applied to the drift tubes. Due to high frequency, the drift tubes alternate charges, resulting in repulsion of the particles as they leave a tube, and attraction by the next tube. It is this alternating high frequency that accelerates the particles as they cross the gaps between tubes.

Linac (linear accelerator) at CERN

Present day Linear accelerators may be several miles long, capable of producing extremely high energy X-rays.

The previously mentioned particle accelerators are only a small sample of the high energy radiation capabilities utilized today. Many of these systems were developed to benefit the medical field, research in the science field, and the industrial examination of very thick or heavy wall materials. If you are interested in learning more about high energy radiation sources, there are numerous sources available in both written form and on the Internet.


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