Plasma Lab Installs Pulsed Electron Beam Accelerator
The Plasma Laboratory has recently installed and is testing a new pulsed electron beam accelerator which will be used to further develop a new class of high-power frequency tuneable infrared lasers, known as "collective free elestron lasers". The idea for these lasers grew out of a research program at Columbia's Plasma Laboratory under the direction of Prof. T.C. Marshall and S.P. Schlesinger.
The new accelerator, purchased with Air Force funds and designed to exacting specifications by Physics International, accelerates a current of 10,000 Amperes to Megavolt energy. For a short period of time (one ten-millionth of a second), the electron beam carries ten thousand megawatts of electrical power, larger than the peak capacity of the Consolidated Edison system. The research program seeks to convert a sizeable fraction of this power into coherent radiation. Devices of this nature exploit new phenomena which are part of "The Physics of High Energy Intensity", a specialty of the Columbia Plasma Laboratory.