Applications for Dielectric Laser Accelerators

The development of laser-powered micro-accelerators has significant implications for energy frontier science, as well as a host of industrial applications.

High Energy Physics

A 250 GeV (center of mass) Higgs factory based on laser-driven dielectric structures would be small enough to fit inside the current SLAC linear accelerator tunnel (2.7 km). 

Compact Atto-scale Radiation Sources

A DLA accelerator combined with a dielectric laser-driven undulator operating on the same basic principles as recently demonstrated accelerator devices [1], would enable attosecond pulsed X-ray sources. These short time scale radiation pulses are of particular interest for study of bimolecular and chemical processes that occur on sub-femtosecond time scales (e.g. "molecular movies"). 

Medical Scanners and Oncology Devices

Additional nearer-term applications, including radiation production for compact medical x-ray devices, university-scale free electron lasers, NMR security scanners, and food sterilization, are beginning to be explored. Portable DLA based medical accelerators combined with robotic control would permit endoscopic cardiology treatments to deliver X-ray doses for treatment of clogged arteries; and would enable more affordable X-ray sources for CT scans, direct electron beam oncology treatment, and phase contrast imaging of biological tissues.​​

Figure:  Images of (a) a robotic surgery system (daVinci SI system by Intuitive Surgical and (b) conceptual rendering of a self-contained DLA encapsulated as a fiber endoscope.​

Industrial Accelerators​

Since the beam energy and gradient requirements for industrial and medical accelerators are orders of magnitude smaller than what is required for basic science, compatible DLA based systems could be fabricated on a single silicon wafer [2, 3]. Industrial accelerators with transverse dimensions of 1 to 2 mm (typical for DLA devices) would permit portable and flexible access to restricted pipe areas for material identification in petroleum exploratory operations; non-destructive testing of products and materials to identify cracks and deformations in hard to reach areas; and multibeam ​X-ray lithography to rapidly "print" nano-scale patterns onto integrated chips, leading to new processes in the microchip industry. Accelerators for security screening of cargo and aircraft could be made more widely available, and ​could, due to their smaller size, scan larger areas rapidly or follow moving targets. 

1. T. Plettner, and R. L. Byer, Phys. Rev. ST-AB 11, 030407 (2008).

2. E. R. Colby, R. J. England, and R. J. Noble, “A Laser-Driven Linear Collider: Sample Machine Parameters and Configuration,” in 2011 Particle Accelerator Conference Proceedings, New York, NY, 2011, p. 262.

3. P. Bermel, R. L. Byer, E. R. Colby, B. M. Cowan, J. Dawson, R. J. England, R. J. Noble, M. Qi, and R. B. Yoder, ICFA Beam Dynamics Newsletter 56, 91–108 (2011).