Portable X-rays could result from a new particle accelerator chip that uses cheaper laser technology and less material to work.
Imagine an X-ray machine small enough to fit on a table top.
Stanford researchers have brought us one step closer to this technology by creating a particle accelerator smaller than a grain of rice. The device paves the way for cheaper and smaller accelerators that could mean big things for science and medicine.
"Our sponsor of this work is DARPA [the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency], and DARPA wants us to develop an accelerator and an X-ray source that can be portable so that you could carry the X-ray machine into the field and use it to provide medical care for injured soldiers," said Robert Byer, principal investigator of the study.
Particle accelerators are typically clunky and costly. X-rays use accelerators to produce the images seen on film – electrons accelerated through a tube collide with atoms to create X-rays. Most accelerators use microwaves to accelerate the electrons to nearly the speed of light through a linear or circular track.