BELLA: Building a Table-Top Accelerator

BELLA: Accelerating Science by Accelerating Electrons: Berkeley Lab scientists stunned the world in 2006 when they proved they could accelerate electrons to very high energies (1 GeV, or a billion electron volts) in a distance of centimeters rather than hundreds of meters. Using the same concepts, those scientists plan to take the project to the next level and build a laser-based accelerator capable of zapping electron beams to energies exceeding 10 GeV in a distance of just one meter.

When completed in about four years, the Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator, or BELLA, will demonstrate the promise of a novel and compact method of accelerating high-energy particles, by making use of a series of synchronized laser systems. The results will be of interest not only to high-energy particle physicists but also to chemists, biologists, doctors, and national security officials.

Related reading from Berkeley Labs: BELLA – The Next Stage in Laser Wakefield Acceleration


  1. Fascinating! But I’m wondering if this compact method could really compete with the largest particle accelerators? On the other hand, innovative science can make great leaps from time to time. And, simpler is generally better.

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