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By far the most common use of particle accelerators is basic research on the composition of matter. The quantities of energy released in such machines are unmatched anywhere on Earth. At these energy levels, new forms of matter are produced that do not exist under ordinary conditions. These forms of matter provide clues about the ultimate structure of matter.

Accelerators have also found some important applications in medical and industrial settings. As particles travel through an accelerator, they give off a form of radiation known as synchrotron radiation. This form of radiation is somewhat similar to x rays and has been used for similar purposes.



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"Particle Acceleration and Kinematics in Solar Flares." Space Science Reviews 101, nos. 1-2 (2002): 1-227.

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David E. Newton


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—A fundamental particle of matter carrying a single unit of negative electrical charge.


—An atom or molecule which has acquired electrical charge by either losing electrons (positively charged ion) or gaining electrons (negatively charged ion).


—A positively charged electron.

Potential difference

—The work that must be done to move a unit charge between two points.


—A fundamental particle matter carrying a single unit of positive electrical charge.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: 1,2-dibromoethane to AdrenergicAccelerators - Linear Accelerators, Circular Accelerators, Cyclotron Modifications, Applications