Particle accelerators play important roles across a wide range of science, medicine and engineering. They also tend to be very large and expensive facilities, which means that beam time on accelerators – be it for developing new materials or treating cancer – is precious and in short supply.
Lasers offer a way of accelerating particles in much smaller and cheaper facilities. In this episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast we meet a physicist who has founded a company called Tau Systems, which aims to build a laser-driven accelerator facility. Based at the University of Texas at Austin, Manuel Hegelich explains how the technology works and how it could be used to create free-electron lasers that would benefit scientists working on a wide range of topics.
Also in this episode, we chat about physicists who have won Nobel prizes in fields other than physics.