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Radiological Safety Training For Accelerator Facilities - index
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The Beginning of Modern Physics


DOE-HDBK-1108-97
Radiological Training for Accelerator Facilities
Student's Guide
I.
HISTORY AND USES OF ACCELERATORS
EO-01 IDENTIFY uses for accelerators.
A.
Definition
Accelerators are devices employing electrostatic or electromagnetic fields to input kinetic energy
to molecules, atomic or subatomic particles and capable of creating a radiological area.
Overview
Accelerators were originally designed to study (research) the structure of matter.
Accelerators today are used not only for basic research purposes, but also for many other
applications.
Accelerators are to particle physics what telescopes are to astronomy, or microscopes to biology.
These instruments all reveal and illuminate worlds that would otherwise remain hidden from our
view. They are the indispensable tools of scientific progress.
The earliest accelerators were simple vacuum tubes in which electrons were given an increase in
energy by the voltage difference between two oppositely charged electrodes. From these evolved
the Cockcroft-Walton and Van de Graaff machines, larger and more elaborate, but using the
same principle. The modern example of this type of device is the linear accelerator, a
sophisticated machine used in many scientific and medical applications. All such straight-line
accelerators suffer from the disadvantage that the finite length of flight path limits the particle
energies that can be achieved.
The great breakthrough in accelerator technology came in 1930 with Ernest O. Lawrence's
invention of the cyclotron. In the cyclotron, magnets guide the particle along a spiral path,
allowing a single electric field to apply many cycles of acceleration. Soon unprecedented
energies were achieved, and the steady improvement of Lawrence's simple machine has led to
3


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