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NEWS|Sci-Tech 
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Representational image: Getty Images

Indian scientists have devised the world's first table-top accelerator that can rev up neutral particles to high speeds, in dramatic research that opens up new possibilities in making high finesse electronic gadgets.

Scientists at Mumbai's Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
(TIFR) have shown that neutral atoms can be sped up within millimetres to ultra high speeds. The research by the physicists at TIFR's Ultra Short Pulse High Intensity Lab was published on Monday in the reputed journal Nature Physics.   

"The world's been trying to create particle accelerators at table-top scales for a decade now using lasers, but no one till now has managed one for neutral particles," TIFR team leader, professor M Krishnamurthy told HT. "We're the first."

Particle accelerators - like the one at CERN in Geneva where scientists announced last year that they may have found the Higgs Boson - are typically mammoth doughnut-shaped machines, often kilometres in diameter.

But as applications of high-powered particle beams have increased - ranging from cancer treatment to understanding the fundamental laws of nature - scientists have developed accelerators that propel electrons - charged particles - to high speeds at small scales. But charged particles are inferior to accelerated neutral particles in fine electronic gadgetry.

Krishnamurthy's student R Rajeev- in his PhD study - showed atoms could be stripped of electrons, accelerated through high speeds and then reunited with the electrons at those speeds - all in a few millimetres.

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