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Electromagnetic Fields in Particle Accelerators Kevin Mattalo

Table of Contents
Electromagnetism y y y y Definitions of Basic Electricity and Magnetism Concepts Electric Fields The Relationship Between Electric and Magnetic Fields Maxwell s Equations

Electromagnetic Fields in Particle Accelerators y y What is a Particle Accelerator? The Function of Electromagnetic Fields in Particle Accelerators i) Types of Accelerators ii) Particle Acceleration iii) Particle direction and containment How the use of Electromagnetic Fields in Particle Accelerators has Affected Society and the Environment Potential Technological Advancements

y y

Electromagnetism Definitions of Basic Electricity and Magnetism Concepts This chart quickly overviews basic electrical and magnetic concepts that are used in defining electric fields, magnetic fields and electromagnetic fields. Concept Electric current Electric charge Unit of Measurement (ampere)

Field lines


Electric field Magnetic field

  (Newtons per Coulomb)


Definition The amount of charge passing a point in a circuit per second A physical property of objects that causes it to interact with the electric field The shape of the electric field when in the presence of an electric charge The magnitude of force generated by an electric charge The magnitude of a magnetic field per

Electric Fields In 600 B.C.E, along the coast of Greece in Miletus, there existed a mathematician and philosopher by the name of Thales. As Thales rested in his study he polished an orb of amber in his hand with a clean piece of fur. Once it was unblemished he would place it next to his parchment hoping it would stay clean for some time. To his surprise, the amber orb quickly became dirty and no matter how much he polished it or moved its location it would always become blackened. Thales was amused and decided to analyze the amber more closely. After rubbing it again with clean fur Thales again placed the amber next to his parchment and something became immediately apparent. Thales saw that the Amber was not becoming dirty from the environment but rather the amber itself was attracting dust towards it. What Thales uncovered was what we now know as the electrostatic force. Thales was a peculiarity of his time; he respected nature and found great solace in logic and analyzing the physical world without resorting to mythological explanations. It is this temperament and state of mind that led Thales to uncover a hidden truth about nature and begin the development of science itself. From Thales to today, our perspective on electric fields has changed considerably. From what was just an oddity is now understood to be a fundamental property of the world around us leading to profound implications. Electric fields exist all around us from the light in your eyes to your ability to stand on the surface of the Earth without falling through. They are an integral part of why we exist in a society that is

technologically advanced and evolving. To explain the idea of electric fields, I ll introduce the idea of a point charge. A point charge is a particle that is indivisible, has no dimensions but has a non-zero electric charge; this is directly related to the commonly known particle the electron.

Point Charge with a non-zero electric field surrounding it

Two point charges distorting an electric field

The essential idea behind the electric field is that it is an invisible medium that permeates through space and time and it communicates electric force to other objects. It exists everywhere, and through everything, even in the vacuum of space and within the densest regions of the Earth. The electric field only becomes noticeable when in the presence of electrically charged particles. Take for instance now the space you are in, around you everything is neutrally charged as it is natural for all things to become so but the electric field still exists. Now if we imagine this electric field as an undisturbed region almost like a regular Cartesian grid then the presence of a point charge distorts the electric field around it warping it in such a way that the charged objects nearby feel this force and interact with it via its field lines (directions of the electric field).

Non-interacting electric field charge

electric field in the presence of a point charge (displaying field lines)

It is apparent now what Thales was observing with his amber and fur. His fur electrically charged the amber causing it to therefore disturb the electric field. This change in the electric field was felt by the dirt and they were consequently attracted. This is only one aspect of the electric field since charged objects can either be positively or negatively charged. To further address this point I ll introduce an equation describing the electric force between two point charges.

From this equation describing the force between the two point charges we can derive why two positive or negative point charges repel and why a negative and positive point charge attracts each other. If we firstly state that when the electric force calculated is negative they attract, and when it is positive they repel then the interactions can be easily shown in this chart: Value of + 

Value of + -

Value of + + (two negatives give a positive) -

Interaction Type Repulsion Repulsion


A positive charge interacting with an electric field

A negative charge interacting with an electric field

The Relationship between Electric and Magnetic Fields During 1800s the development of Physics was progressing at a rapid rate and many ideas were converging into more complete explanations. In particular the notions of electric and magnetic fields were seen to be intricately related but no physical description sufficed this relationship. One of the peculiarities observed in this relationship was that moving electric fields produced magnetic fields and moving magnetic fields produced electric fields. An example of this can be observed if one brings a compass atop a mountain during a lightning storm. The needle within the compass aligns itself accordingly to magnetic north at the base of the mountain but when you reach the top, the needle becomes disoriented and spins frantically. This occurs because the electric current flowing through the clouds at high altitudes produces magnetic fields that coil around the electric current thus interacting with the needle and repositioning it.
The following diagram displays a current flowing through a conductor (the blue rod) in an upwards direction. The red arrows coiling around the conductor display that a movement of charge i.e. a current, produces a magnetic field  This is the same phenomenon experienced by the needle. A current (the lightning bolt) produces a magnetic field that interacts with the iron needle in the compass.

This chart expands upon the similarities between magnetic and electric fields: Characteristics Field Lines Negative and Positive Charges Force is proportional to Produce Magnetic Fields In Motion Produce Electric Fields In Motion Magnetic Fields Yes Yes Yes No Yes Electric Fields Yes Yes Yes Yes No

Upon further analysis, James Clerk Maxwell, a Scottish-born physicist, was the person that would unite electric and magnetic fields into the electromagnetic field. His set of four equations with contributions from Gauss, Faraday and Ampere describe precisely how electromagnetism works and provide the key link to show how electromagnetism was always in our sight i.e. light itself is an electromagnetic wave. Light is the combination of two components namely electric and magnetic waves which are perpendicular to each other and thus produce the electromagnetic spectrum. It was this realization that affirmed the duality between electricity and magnetism and allowed for major technological developments including electrical motors, telecommunications, computer networking, and efficient energy transformations in power plants by electrical generators.
is the electric field component and  is the magnetic field component of the electromagnetic wave (light)

Electrical motor


Computing and energy transformations

Maxwell s Equations These equations thoroughly describe the relationship between electricity and magnetism: Equation 1:

The equation states that the electric charge of an object is proportional to its electric field. Equation 2:


The equation states that if one has a magnet which can only be dipolar, then the net magnetic field flowing through it is 0 since positive magnetism flows inwards and negative magnetism flows outwards. Equation 3:

The equation states that if you have a closed electric current flowing, then it is proportional to the negative rate of change with respect to time of the magnetic field through the area enclosed by the circuit. Thus when a magnetic field changes it produces an electric current. Equation 4:


x x


The equation states that the magnetic field around an electrical circuit is proportional to the electric current flowing through the circuit. This is clearly demonstrated by observing how a speaker works. Within a speaker there is a magnet within a coiled electric current. This electric current is an alternating current and therefore changes the direction of the magnetic field produced from forward to backwards. There is a proportionality between these fields and thus allows the magnet to vibrate and produce sound waves
An alternating electric current flows through the voice coil generating a changing magnetic field which moves the magnets and vibrates the speaker cone generating sound

Electromagnetic Fields in Particle Accelerators What is a Particle Accelerator? Imagine the vastness of the universe in space, how fragile the Earth is as it rests gently in the blackness like a moat of dust. This characteristic of emptiness and also expansiveness is not a quality of the Earth but even of the Milky Way galaxy, an island of stars, one of billions. Now as we move to the other end of the spectrum, imagine the deepness of the things around you, the atoms and molecules that compose the paper you are reading and the brain that is percieving these words, everything is one and the same at this level, this the quantum universe. The world we live in and percieve is only one aspect of nature s intricacy, all of the objects that we manipulate and conjure are only a figment in the grandness of the universe itself. In this quantum universe there exist what are commonly called particles. Similar to the explanation of the point charge in the previous chapter, a particle is a point-like object with has numerous properties including electric charge and mass. At the level of the particles, physicists can peek at the fundamental nature of nature and the most common approach to do so is by using particle accelerators. Particle accelerators are devices used by scientists to accelerate charged particles by using electromagnetic fields. These accelerated particles form a beam and are brought incredibly close to the speed of light. Eventually they collide with another beam of particles within a detector thus producing a lot of energy which in turn become new particles by use of Einstein s mass-energy equivalence:

This is an example of a particle collision event at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratories. Each line seen in this photo is a particle created from the energy of multiple collisions

The creation of new particles allows us to better understand the constituents of matter and how the unvierse forms at the macroscopic level. Although much of this research appears very esoteric it has had a tremendous effect on society. The first commercially used product that relied considerably on the use of a particle accelerator was the Cathode Ray Tube television. This television used an electron accelerator to give them enough energy so when they were fired at the screen they produced flashes of light, or the images you percieve. This is the essential idea of a particle accelerator, the physics and societal implications will be discussed thoroughly in the next few chapters.

Here is a traditional Cathode Ray Tube television. As you can see an accelerator on the left fires electrons which are deflected by a magnetic field towards the screen

The Function of Electromagnetic Fields in Particle Accelerators Electromagnetic fields carry out two primary functions in the workings of a particle accelerator. The first of these functions is to accelerate the particles, and the second is to contain and direct the particles for collision in a detector. The particular particle accelerator being discussed here is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Types of Accelerators Here is a short chart listing and describing the various forms of accelerators used at CERN: Accelerator Linear Accelerator Synchrotron Accelerator Description Accelerates particles in a straight line Accelerates particles in a circle

This is a diagram of a linear accelerator

This is a diagram of a sychnrotron accelerator

Particle Acceleration In order to describe how particles accelerate in the LHC we must introduce a very basic idea. This idea is known as the Lorentz force law; it states that a charged particle in the presence of an external electric or magnetic field will experience a force. This force is described by the following equation:


According to Newton, if a force is being applied on an object then it accelerates at a constant rate, thus we infer that particles can accelerate in the presence of external magnetic or electric fields.
This diagram illustrates the Lorentz force law or how magnetic and electric fields can apply forces on charged particles

We ll now examine the process of accelerating a proton from its rest state to collision state inside of the LHC. Notice that the size of each accelerator increases along the proton s journey; this is because as something travels closer to the speed of light it gains kinetic energy and mass according to Einstein s mass-energy equivalence. Since the protons contain more mass, more energy is required to accelerate (Newton s force law) them, hence the larger accelerators. Step 1: Linear Acceleration LINAC2: The proton s journey begins inside of a compressed tank filled with research grade molecular hydrogen. The gas is guided to a vacuum chamber at the entrance of the LINAC2 linear accelerator where it is broken down into individual atoms and ionized by stripping the electrons from the protons through electric currents. These electric currents increase the energy of the electrons so much that they cannot maintain a stable bound state around the nucleus and ultimately become free electrons. What is left is an ionized nucleus and in the case of hydrogen, a proton. A proton is a positively charged particle and can therefore, according to Lorentz s force law, experience acceleration from an external magnetic or electric field.
Molecular hydrogen Hydrogen atom is ionized by electricity

What remains is a positively charged proton

The LINAC2 accelerates the protons by use of electromagnetic waves. The LINAC2 contains resonance cavities which pulse microwave radiation towards the protons, these protons interact with the electric field in the electromagnetic wave and are pushed forward. The force produced by the electric field in the microwave radiation accelerates the protons forward and as they approach the end of the LINAC2 they have a velocity of 0.314 ( is the speed of light in a vacuum).
Resonance cavities in the linear accelerator

Step 2, 3, and 4: Proton Synchrotron Booster (PSB)/Proton Synchrotron (PS)/LHC: The protons now enter the Proton Synchrotron Booster; the acceleration experienced by the particles at this stage is of the same form throughout the rest of the accelerator complex and thus I ll explain it in one section. The particles within the PSB accelerate in a circular formation with the aid of a resonant electromagnetic pulse. Each time the proton beam rotates, a microwave is emitted thus transferring energy to the protons. The energy in the microwave increases through each rotation since more force is necessary to accelerate the protons. This is analogous to someone being pushed on a swing. There exists a resonant frequency in which you push the person to maximize the transfer of energy which is what the resonant electromagnetic pulse does. This process occurs in the PS stage and in the LHC stage. Once LHC acceleration has finished the total velocity of the proton beams are approximately 0.999999.
The largest ring is the LHC and along the circle there are 100s of electromagnets which emit electromagnetic microwaves that accelerate the protons

Particle Direction and Containment Throughout this entire process the protons gain an incredible amount of energy and velocity and it is quite difficult to contain and direct the flow of protons through the collider complex. The LHC makes use of a novel development in magnetism which is used continually from the LINAC2 accelerator to the LHC. This development is known as superconductivity and it is achieved when superconducting magnets, in this case they are niobium-titanium magnets, are cooled to a critical temperature with liquid helium. At this temperature the superconducting magnet has zero electrical resistance and can efficiently control the beams of particles.
The bottom magnet is a superconductor and it traps the top magnet into a magnetic suspension

There are two purposes for the magnets at the LHC that is to direct the beams and focus them. The superconducting magnets that bend the beams create magnetic field lines that are inside of the accelerator by virtue of an electrical current flowing through the magnets. The magnetic field lines curve in a circular direction to contain them inside of the synchrotron accelerator. In the linear accelerator the superconducting magnets generate a magnetic field in a straight line allowing the protons to maintain a linear acceleration. The protons interact with this magnetic field because as stated in Maxwell s Equations: moving electric charges produce magnetic fields and vice versa. Thus, the magnetic field generated by the moving beam of protons interacts with the superconducting magnets and they follow the path of the accelerator.
The red regions are areas of high intensity magnetic fields. Along this curve, charged particles interact with the magnetic field and bend around the curve

Another property of the superconducting magnets is to focus the proton beams by squashing them together. This is achieved by a method known as Quadruple Magnetic Quenching. Two pairs of opposite polarity superconducting magnets focus around the pathway of the proton beams and each time they pass the magnets they are forced together by the magnetic field that focuses on a small point. Since the proton charges interact with the focused magnetic field they are subsequently focused. This focusing process contains the protons inside of the accelerator and also maximizes the rate of proton collisions by increasing the concentration of particles in a given area.

This diagram describes the quenching affect generated by bar magnets. The effect is the exact same with the use of superconducting magnets including the set up of the magnets. Thus the beams of protons are focused into a dense region due to the tight magnetic field.

How the use of Electromagnetic Fields in Particle Accelerators has Affected Society and the Environment Electromagnetic Fields have made significant contributions to the state of society and the environment in the last century particularly in the development of telecommunications, transportation infrastructure and medical particle therapies. Telecommunications The introduction of telecommunications in the late 20th century has significantly changed the way humans interact and the progression of society in general. By researching how to accelerate particle beams efficiently by use of radio/micro electromagnetic radiation we have been able to develop the cell phone which processes audio signals into digital signals (micro/radio waves) and decrease the delay in human communication. The computer is also the product of electromagnetic research in particle accelerators and is used for communication and networking. Because of this the society we live in has developed into a fast-paced network that relies greatly on the expense of social media and advertising. The environment has been affected from these developments due to the rapid expansion of world-economies. The growth of these economies is particularly accredited to the introduction of telecommunications. This novelty has allowed for businesses to become more productive due to faster communication and tasking. This has lead to the construction of large private sectors that are the foundation of a country s wealth. Because of this increase in wealth, particularly in eastern countries, we are using more energy on average to function and maintain infrastructure. It is immediately obvious that this need for energy results in a higher demand for fossil fuels and subsequently the release of fossil fuels into the environment. Statistically, geologists have found massive explosions in fossil fuel output and inflations in CO2 percentage in the atmosphere in correlation with the development of telecommunications.

The graph on the left shows the amount of atmospheric CO2 and the one on the right shows the growth of one of the most prominent forms of telecommunication the personal computer.

Transportation Infrastructure The last century was notable for the global-expansion of automobiles and commercial aircrafts. These inventions persist in our lives and are integral components of how our species lives and in particular how our societies function. Beyond the benefits of economic productivity due to faster and more efficient travel, society itself is currently being assailed by the progression of global climate change.
The chart displays that the global centigrade has increased by about 1 degree since 1980 which is a significant amount for a short period.

Due to this, societies search for more efficient and socially comfortable forms of transportation are being researched and are in development phases. The research on electromagnetic fields at particle accelerators has been at the forefront of developing said technologies and in particular, the application of superconductors in transportation. The MagLev trains make use of superconductivity as a means of providing fast and efficient transportation but they are still being tested and modified. The potential of the MagLev trains to reduce societies dependence on fossil fuels and the affect they have on the environment is promising. The MagLev is a high-speed (501 km/h), high-capacity and aerodynamic train that is extraordinarily efficient primarily due to the use of the magnetic superconductors that CERN has researched considerably. This research has lead to the discovery of high-temperature superconductors that can work without extreme cooling. Since each MagLev has a high-capacity it reduces the amount of vehicles operating and decreases the amount of domestic flights. With respect to society, this reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and ensures longevity and grounds for future human development in the case that we run out of fossil fuels.

The interaction among these magnetic fields allow the MagLev to be suspended thus decreasing friction and increasing efficiency

The green bar is the CO2 emissions per seat on a MagLev train. It is very efficient compared to a car and airplane but travels faster than both.

Medical Particle Therapies and Medical Imaging Our society in general is subjected to various changes in the environment that varies substantially from previous generations. Because of this humans in the last few decades have become susceptible to disease and in particular cancer. Oncology research has broadened because of this and recently, answers to create a harmless and potent cancer treatment therapy have developed. The solution to this problem was discovered unconventionally in research that is done at experiments like the LHC. What was considered and is now in practical application is the use of proton therapies to target tumors without damaging unaffected tissue. This contains numerous benefits for society in particular the extension of life expectancy and the further understanding of cancer itself. Approximately one-third of humans will be diagnosed with a form of cancer and it the odds of surviving decrease dramatically depending on the stage you are in. Therefore the development of Medical Imaging (i.e. MRIs), which rely heavily on the principles of electromagnetism, can lead to earlier detection and the creation of a healthier society. Recently, every major medical center in the world has begun using accelerators producing x-rays, protons, neutrons or heavy ions for the diagnosis and treatment of disease. It is estimated that there are over 7,000 operating medical linear accelerators around the world that have treated over 30,000,000 patients. These developments in medicine have not only been used for treatment but for the understanding of the diseases themselves. This has lead to major advancements in disease control and elimination thus reducing the potential for species loss and the preservation of the environment.

The diagram displays Xray therapy on the left and proton therapy on the right. Notice that the proton therapy is significantly more concentrated on the tumor where as the Xrays disperse and harm unaffected tissue

Potential Technological Advancements Humanity itself has created a necessity to develop a more efficient and renewable energy system that satisfies the demands of growing global-economies. Our use of fossil fuels is growing steadily every decade and the expansion of infrastructure to third-world countries is also increasing the usage of non-renewable energy as a means to run a society. Numerous alternatives are being applied in today s society including wind energy, bio-fuels, solar energy and fission. Each of these, although they are renewable are very inefficient and haven t been able to meet the energy needs of the global population. Fission also suffers from various other faults including the volatility of fissile materials in natural disasters and the limited supply of fissile materials themselves. Recently, research at particle accelerators and the study of electromagnetic fields as a way of accelerating and controlling particle beams has opened new potential in fusion energy. Fusion is the process of combining two light atomic nuclei (i.e. hydrogen isotopes: deuterium and tritium) to form a heavier element (helium) and resultant energy. The fusion event efficiently generates energy and relies on the availability of deuterium and tritium which are two of the most abundant resources on Earth. The primary fault in fusion energy is meeting a net output of energy, currently the energy needed to create fusion is less than the energy outputted by it.
This diagram shows a 2 deuterium ( H) and tritium 3 ( H) atom fusing to form 4 Helium ( He) and a free neutron (n) which is absorbed by an outer ceramic plate inside of the fusion reactor and converted to energy

Future innovations in fusion energy by research being conducted in electromagnetic fields in particle accelerators include the global effort to develop a fully functioning and useful fusion reactor. The current project in development and noted for completion by 2019 is the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor or ITER. ITER is a Tokomak designed fusion reactor that is

expected to generate 5000% energy return from the energy that was inputted. The ITER Tokomak design needs to have an efficient system to develop magnetic confinement of the plasma (ionized gas) as this is a critical component to attain fusion. For this reason there has been frequent correspondence between ITER and CERN including application of the LHCs use of superconducting magnets to confine the plasma.
Here is a picture of confined plasma fusing inside of a Tokomak

This has been a falling point from previous Tokomak fusion reactors i.e. they couldn t efficiently confine to plasma to achieve maximum energy output. The magnets confine the plasma through a very interesting process. Surrounding the Tokomak, which is shaped like a donut or a torus, are super-cooled superconducting magnets. An electric current flows through the superconductors with zero resistance and generates a magnetic field that around the outside of the Tokomak. An electric current is produced inside of the torus like jelly through the insides of a hole-centered donut.

This diagram shows how the Tokomak design creates magnetic confinement. Magnetic fields move around the Tokomak and an electric current is produced confining the plasma. The result is a plasma current that is contained and can safely each 150,000,000 degrees celsius

This technology as stated is directly attributed to the major advancements of superconductor applications in society and the research conducted at particle accelerators like the LHC. The growth in global demand for energy is inevitable and the only reasonable solution lies in the power of fusion. It is through our understanding of concepts in electromagnetism and how to confine plasmas that will benefit society in its search for a reliable and efficient energy source for the future.