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A small particle accelerator is being developed in China that could “enormously” expand human understanding of the mystery of life and evolution

Scientists from the Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics created the first compact particle accelerator capable of powering a free electron laser, communicated last Friday the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ACC).

The device allows matter to be examined at the scale of molecules and atoms, and promises to provide “advances in various disciplines, such as physics, chemistry, structural biology, medicine, materials science, energy and the environment,” says the organism. .

“The characteristics of the free electron laser, including its super high resolution rates with respect to time and space and super strong maximum brightness, make it possible to obtain three-dimensional and multimodal images of materials with ultra-high precision,” as quoted by Wang Wentao, one of the team members.

“It is likely that the application of technology […] greatly expand human understanding of the mystery of life and the evolution of living things, “he added.

Although the free electron laser itself is not new and was built and used for research purposes, its previous designs envision the use of huge accelerators, between 300 and 3,400 meters. For now, there are only eight such devices in the world. The radical decline could make them more popular, scientists say.

“We tested the feasibility of the new technical route with the laser electron accelerator, with ultra-high acceleration capacity, and it reduced the size of the facility from one kilometer to 12 meters”, highlights Leng Yuxin, deputy director of the institute.

Design details are described in an article published last week in the journal Nature.

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