It takes more than a brilliant work to create a functional electron accelerator, scaled version of LHC, for a degree project by six undergraduate Mechanical Engineering students without any specific manual or instructions. Six month’s hard work without exhausting, day and night, six students at Concordia University surprised the world when they fired the first electron in their own particle accelerator. These genius students raised $25,000 from sponsors as the university can allot only $750 for a degree project. When they approached the sponsors with the proposal of building an electron gun, the sponsors couldn’t help wondering whether these kid can really build what they were thinking of. The only person who had some experience in this field was Nick Zacchia, one of former co-op students at particle and nuclear physics lab of TRIUMF. As claimed by the innovators, it’s Montreal’s first electron accelerator.
In brief, MEGA, Mini Electron Gun Accelerator, includes a voltage multiplier circuit inside a vacuum system. 110 volts from a wall plug are boosted to 8,000 volts and after the circuit multiplies it to a negative 100,000-volt DC current, it’s supplied to a tungsten wire. The edged tip of the wire emits electrons, which are then pushed hard though the vacuum system. Helium atoms are released to let the collision take place. An electromagnet, which was built by the students themselves, bends the highest energy electrons at 45 degrees. The electrons are finally shot into a chemical solution through a thin piece of aluminum foil.
The highest speed attained by the electrons was 67 per cent of the speed of light, which is less than that attained by the LHC. However, if we compare the funds, technicians, and experts working on LHC, MEGA is almost an unbelievable achievement in the University Lab.
People working on LHC will sure understand what these kids have achieved. LHC is highly complex structure, full of harmful radiations, and requires experts in electric as well as in the field of physics. Scientists hope to understand the particle behaviors by accelerating particles, which relates to biggest questions about the universe and it’s still mysterious phenomenon. Particle acceleration is the heavenly way for scientists to understand the Dark Matter, the string theory, existence of the elusive Higgs boson and many more phenomenons, which could completely change the way we saw this universe.
I guess, it’s enough information to give you an hint what this innovation means for the world and the Researchers at Concordia University. The project will be displayed at the Canadian Undergraduate Technology Conference in Toronto in the last week of April and University have selected the project to represent it in the design competition of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering Conference in Winnipeg in June.