- Feb 24, 2016
Early in the morning on Saturday, 26 May 2018, the AWAKE collaboration at CERN successfully accelerated electrons for the first time using a wakefield generated by protons zipping through a plasma. A paper describing this important result was published in the journal Nature today. The electrons were accelerated by a factor of around 100 over a length of 10 metres: they were externally injected into AWAKE at an energy of around 19 MeV (million electronvolts) and attained an energy of almost 2 GeV (billion electronvolts). Although still at a very early stage of development, the use of plasma wakefields could drastically reduce the sizes, and therefore the costs, of the accelerators needed to achieve the high-energy collisions that physicists use to probe the fundamental laws of nature. The first demonstration of electron acceleration in AWAKE comes only five years after CERN approved the project in 2013 and is an important first step towards realising this vision.