Particle accelerator

Taking a closer look at LHC

Accelerators works with charged particles that are accelerated to speeds close to the speed of light. By letting very fast and energetic particles collide in the accelerators, the scientists can extract information about matters smallest components. In such collisions are new particles created, which will provide information about the secrets of particle physics. In some sense the big accelerators can be said to be today's "super microscopes".

An ordinary CRT television set is a simple form of particle accelerator (electrons).

There are two basic types: linear accelerators and circular accelerators.

Normally, linear accelerators are related with collisions on fixed target and the circulars with collisions head-on, but both can be used to provide the two types of collisions. To see a brief discussion about the differences, in terms of energy, between these types of collisions see...

About linear versus collider a short discussion can be found here...


A linear particle accelerator (also called a linac) is an linear electrical device for the acceleration of subatomic particles. The design of a linac depends on the type of particle that is being accelerated: electron, proton or ion. They range in size from a cathode ray tube to the 3,4 km long Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in California

Maybe, an linear accelerator (CLIC  or ILC) will be the new machine for the post-LHC era.



In the circular accelerator, particles move in a circle until they reach sufficient energy. The particle track is typically bent into a circle using electromagnets. The advantage of circular accelerators over linear accelerators is that the ring topology allows continuous acceleration, as the particle can transit indefinitely. Another advantage is that a circular accelerator is relatively smaller than a linear accelerator of comparable power.

Depending on the energy and the particle being accelerated, circular accelerators used in Particles Physics suffer a disadvantage in that the particles emit synchrotron radiation.


Xabier Cid Vidal, PhD in experimental Particle Physics for Santiago University (USC). Research Fellow in experimental Particle Physics at CERN from January 2013 to Decembre 2015. Currently, he is in USC Particle Physics Department (Spanish Postdoctoral Junior Grants Programme).

Ramon Cid Manzano, secondary school Physics Teacher at IES de SAR (Santiago - Spain), and part-time Lecturer (Profesor Asociado) in Faculty of Education at the University of Santiago (Spain). He has a Degree in Physics and in Chemistry, and is PhD for Santiago University (USC).



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