Particle-accelerator specialists are forever trying to squeeze speeding particles into denser beams. That means more particle collisions within the accelerators, yielding more data and quickening the pace of discovery.
But corralling the particles into narrow streams presents a challenge because the particles, which typically are all either positively or negatively charged, repel each other. Now, a German team has shown a way to minimize this problem: Freeze particles in the beams. Instead of individual particles whipping around a ring, cold, dense crystals make the rounds.
"It's the most stable and brilliant beam one can imagine," says Ulrich Schramm, a member of the team at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich in Garching, Germany.