Application and Limitations of a Cyclotron

Cyclotrons are one of the most powerful particle accelerator technology

It was invented by Ernest O. Lawrence in 1929-1930

It can be defined as a type of particle accelerator in which charged particles accelerate outwards from the centre along a spiral path

These particles are kept on a circular trajectory by a magnetic field

They were further accelerated by a rapidly varying electric field

Let us briefly discuss the Working principle of Cyclotron

A cyclotron consists of two hollow “D”-shaped metallic boxes called “dees” inside a vacuum chamber

The "dees" are connected to an Alternating Voltage between them

They are located between the poles of an electromagnet which applies a magnetic field

A Cyclotron accelerates a charged particle beam using a high-frequency alternating voltage applied between the "dees"

The dees are placed face to face with a narrow gap between them, creating a space between them for the particles to move

The particles are injected into the centre of this space between the "dees"

The Magnetic field causes the path of the particles to bend in a circle due to the magnetic force perpendicular to their direction of motion

As the particles accelerate in the gap between the "dees", their velocity increases

Due to the increase in Velocity, the radius of their semi-circular path also increases

Eventually, the particles that come out of the Cyclotron have a very high Velocity

This implies, that the particles have been accelerated

Let us learn some important applications of Cyclotron

Cyclotrons are basically used as Particle Accelerators

Certain elements are accelerated and these highly energised particles are bombarded with a target material

Subsequent chemical reactions and particle analysis of the target material are studied

Cyclotrons are also used in the medicine industry and hospitals

It produces radioactive substances which are used in the diagnosis and treatment of patients

Cyclotrons can also be used in the treatment of cancer

The ion beams from Cyclotrons can be used to penetrate the body and kill tumours by radiation damage

But Cyclotron has some limitations as well

A Cyclotron is capable of accelerating heavy particles only

These heavy particles include -particle, Deuterium, etc

This is because, if we consider a light particle such as an electron, even a small increase in the energy of the particle would make it move with an extremely high speed

A Cyclotron cannot accelerate uncharged particles, such as Neutron

This is because the Electrostatic force which causes the particle to move will be Zero if the charge of the particle is Zero

This can be shown mathematically that if the charge of the particle , then Electrostatic Force will also be Zero


Cyclotrons are basically used as Particle Accelerators to perform and study nuclear reactions

Cyclotrons are also used in the diagnosis and treatment of patients in hospitals

A Cyclotron is able to accelerate heavy particles only

A Cyclotron cannot accelerate uncharged particles

The End