DARPA Looks to Build Compact Linear Electron Accelerator for Military Applications

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched an effort to develop a deployable linear accelerator designed to generate beams of high energy by accelerating electrons and sub-atomic particles on a straight line.

DARPA said Friday the Advanced Concept Compact Electron Linear (ACCEL)-accelerator initiative seeks to create an electron accelerator that weighs 165.3 pounds and has a beam power capacity of up to 5 mega-electron volts.

Current LINACs have been used to support applications such as X-ray scanning for cargo, food sterilization, medical diagnostics and radiation treatments including the elimination of cancer cells without impacting surrounding tissue.

However, the linear accelerators are “too large and heavy to be practical for military use in the field,” according to DARPA.

Col. Dan Javorsek, program manager for ACCEL, said a linear accelerator that could be carried via aircraft or trucks to challenging locations could be used o provide medical treatment in underprivileged locales and enable the remote detonation of improvised explosive devices.

ACCEL could also be used for food sterilization in addition to the mobile inspection of large assets for chemical, biological and radiological threats, he noted. DARPA plans to host a virtual Proposer’s Day for the ACCEL program on Jan. 28.