Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How can I make a particle accelerator?

  1. Apr 24, 2006 #1
    I just read about the biography of Michio Kaku, which says that during his High School years he build a homemade Betatron, a particle accelerator. Do you have any informations on how to make one, or any papers on mechanics of such one? And did you ever try to make one?

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 25, 2006 #2

    My guess is you'd have a hard time building one as you would need a vacuum chamber and pump assembly.

    This is because otherwise the electron won't get to spin around the chamber because (a). It won't move more than a micro-meter (and prob. not even this far) without undergoing collisions and (b) your electron source won't work anyway unless under vacuum.

    Having said that, it all depends how motivated you are. If you made it a long term project and were prepared to put time and money into it, it might be feasible.

    Your best bet would be to read as much as you can about them on the net and then decide if you want to have a crack at it based on what equipment is available.

    I'm sure if you actually have the gumption to get stuck into this project there will be plenty of people willing to offer advice.

    Good Luck..:biggrin:
  4. May 9, 2006 #3
    Hmmmm, I just had a thought. I don't know whether the original poster is still interested in this question...

    But perhaps a rather crude Betatron could be built by taking the vacuum tube out of an old television and controlling the motion of the electrons that head towards the screen via an electromagnet that could be added (on the outer casing of course). This would require quite a bit of mucking about... but it might just work.

    This solves the need for specialised equipment.

    ps...... don't try this at home kids :biggrin:
  5. May 9, 2006 #4
    Too late....

    I read that same thing too and when I read I wanted to build it. It will be hard and there two things that will probally be the hardest to get(based on what I read in his book):
    1)Space:He used the area around his schools football feild to build it(on another note don't do atom smashing during football games you might turn the football players into radioactive geeks)
    2)Power: all the lights in his house would go off when he turned that his particle accletors on.
  6. Sep 10, 2008 #5
    You might be able to use capacitors to get the juice for it.
  7. Sep 10, 2008 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I've seen homebuilt gas-ion cyclrotrons built by high-school students. All you need is a suitable chamber, dee electromagnets, good vacuum pump, and relatively simple electronics. After much of the air is evacuated, the remaining (ionized) air molecules are accelerated. You'd probably only achieve very meager energies, but it might be enough to do some simple experiments.

    - Warren
  8. Dec 22, 2008 #7
    Warren, do you know how to make one?
    I'm trying to make a cyclotron similar to the one made by Lawrence in 1929 but I do not have the design specifics.
  9. Apr 17, 2009 #8
    Hi, I am trying to make a betatron and this seems to be the only way to make one within my budget. So, i was wondering how you could do make that exactly (couldn't find instructions anywhere).
  10. Apr 17, 2009 #9
    Actually, come to think of it, any kind of particle accelerator would work.
  11. Apr 17, 2009 #10
    E. O. Lawrence to my knowledge never made a betatron. I worked on his 184" cyclotron before it was dismantled about 30 years ago. A cyclotron (for protons) requires a big H magnet with a gap in it suitable for a vacuum chamber. The protons start out from the center from an ionized hydrogen (proton) source. On the other hand, the vacuum chamber for a betatron is a toroid around the core of an AC (50 or 60 Hz) magnet. The field on the vacuum chamber is half the average field in the core (the area inside the toroid-you need to know Faraday-s law). This matches the electron acceleration (and magnetic rigidity) to the field on the vacuum chamber. The long standing book on the subject is by Livingston and Blewett (McGraw Hill 1962). The newer one by Chao and Tigner is much too advanced. The book by Humphries is probably a good one but very expensive, but you may be able to get a pdf version free on the web at http://www.fieldp.com/cpa.html

    Be sure to complete a course in both differential and integral calculus before you read these books.
  12. May 29, 2009 #11
    I don't know if anyone on this thread is still interested in building a cyclotron?

    A friend and I have been designing our own 2MeV cyclotron for several years now, and we are just about to begin construction down at JLab in Virgina.

    We have a PDF on our website that contains most of our calculations and and overview of the physical design of our accelerator. If anyone is interested in reading that, I think it would be a good place to start in the design of your own accelerator.

    We also have a links page with several other websites for people who have built cyclotrons. Tim Koeth's accelerator at Rutgers University also has a very useful website.

    Our site is www.thecyclotronkids.org

    Hope that's helpful!
  13. Oct 4, 2009 #12
    is it possible to make a particle accelerator
    the size of a small car
  14. Mar 22, 2010 #13
    I'm a physics student who needs to do an experiment with dark matter
    seeing as how the only way to get access to dark matter is by using a particle accelerator, I figure I have to build one to complete the assignment
    A) Is this assignment safe?
    B) What is the cheapest way for me to build a working particle accelerator?
  15. Apr 16, 2010 #14
    i just read the sme book that you were reading (hyperspace by michio kaku) and as soon as i came across that he built a betatron i was wondering if its possible for me to build one (i have the space and money) would it be illegal and what would i need to buy in order to make one??
  16. Apr 17, 2010 #15
    Guys everyone here tends to be pretty encouraging so I end up playing the forum pessimist it seems. But seriously. If you can't ask a question which is anymore specific than "how do I build a particle accelerator" you probably need to do at minimum a few solid months of research on your own to get to the point where you have a chance. Then come back and maybe try asking more specific questions?

    To give you an idea of why that is such a bad question, you can just take the cathode ray tube from an old TV and boom particle accelerator. If that isn't good enough, then what kind of energy are you looking for? What kind of experiments are you hoping to replicate? What kind of spectacular results were you hoping for that would make some kind of massive effort worthwhile?

    And on the subject of dark matter: sorry to be so discouraging but you are not gonna be able to do an "experiment on dark matter" period. Even more so if you didn't realize the absurdity of that idea.

    So once again sorry to be such a downer guys but your ideas are bordering on delusional.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook