Fine Structure

Plasma-Wakefield Accelerators are BACK

WIRED covers plasma-wakefield accelerator technology, which sounds like it's come a long way since the last time I heard a pop-science update about it. From WIRED:

In 2007, a collaboration between SLAC, UCLA, and USC demonstrated PWFA's potential: In a single meter, they were able to boost electrons zooming down SLAC's linear track to twice what they can achieve over the entire two-mile-long accelerator.

Plasma-wakefield accelerators (the article uses the ugly PWFA acronym) are alternatives to our current obsession with multi-kilometer rings like the LHC or the proposed ILC (a straight line, rather than a ring). Although the article does point out some really solid results from plasma-wakefield technology, they're still highly experimental so you won't see them rendering the LHC obsolete in the near future. ]