• Question: What is a particle accelerator used for?

    Asked by anon-314206 to Alex H on 14 Mar 2022.
    • Photo: Alex Headspith

      Alex Headspith answered on 14 Mar 2022:

      Great question!

      Particle accelerators are useful research tools in order for scientists to understand the very nature of particles and how they work or to allow scientists to observe things on a minute level – in order to test, investigate or create new things.

      There are about 30,000 worldwide, all of which are different and allow for different types of research. Some collide particles, like the Large Hadron Collider in order to discover what makes up particles and how they interact. Some use ultra power light, known as light sources in order to take snapshots of what is happening, almost like a camera! These are used for everything from medical research to material science.

      A lot of modern technology comes from accelerator science, from cancer therapy to the security scanners in airports and many other things! One of our accelerators in the UK is responsible for making chocolate taste better as it was used to investigate the protein structure that gives chocolate its flavour.