- accelerator(def 7).
- a machine for accelerating charged elementary particles to very high energies, used for research in nuclear physicsSee also linear accelerator, cyclotron, betatron, synchrotron, synchrocyclotron
- Any of several machines, such as the cyclotron and linear accelerator, that increase the speed and energy of protons, electrons, or other atomic particles, and direct them at atomic nuclei or other particles to cause high-energy collisions. Such collisions produce other particles, whose paths are tracked and analyzed. Particle accelerators are used to study the nature of the atomic nucleus, subatomic particles, and the forces relating them, and to create radioactive isotopes.
A machine (sometimes called an “atom smasher”), often very large, that brings elementary particles (usually either protons or electrons) to a very high speed and then allows them to collide with a target. From the resulting behavior of the particles and the target, scientists deduce the structure of the particles.