Particle accelerators, after the Large Hadron Collider built by CERN came online, seem to have become familiar to almost everyone and have gained notoriety as devices that could bring the universe to an end.
No one seems to remember what a particle accelerator actually is and how for a long time now they have been part of almost everyone’s life.
A particle accelerator is a device that using electromagnetic fields can propel atomic and sub-atomic particles to high velocities while ensuring that their path can be well-controlled. The cathode ray tube that was an essential component of almost all television sets built until a few years back is a particle accelerator. More powerful particle accelerators are used to generate X-rays and are used in almost every hospital for purposes ranging from imaging to anti-cancer therapy involving radiotherapy.
Particle accelerators are also widely used in industrial processes, some examples of which are in the manufacture of integrated circuits and in ion implantation. They also find wide applications in biomedical and industrial research.