The famous accelerator of elementary particles in Switzerland, the notorious Large Hadron Collider, began to work with materials that were fundamentally new for this field - atoms with electrons. This is dictated by the need to move further in the study of the microworld, scientists are eager to pass through the accelerator and collide as many different types of particles as possible. Only from an engineering point of view, the task is daunting.
While small particles, usually protons, flew through the collider at light speeds, there were no particular problems, since the system was created for this in the first place. However, new experiments require a variety of accelerated particles, and at first the scientists managed to launch the nucleus of an atom, and now a whole lead atom with one electron. The problem is that this electron can easily be "lost" in the strongest magnetic field of the collider during acceleration.
If an atom loses its electron, its total charge loses synchronization with the collider's magnetic field, the particle gets off the flight path and crashes into a wall. To avoid this, the engineers carried out a painstaking calibration of the system and managed in the first experiment to hold a low-energy beam of atoms for an hour. At their peak power, the atoms flew for a full two minutes before the protective automatics went off. In the second experiment with the acceleration of atoms, it was possible to double the time of their flight through the accelerator.
But why such difficulties? But why - when atoms collide with electrons, the most powerful gamma radiation is generated. If this process is stabilized, gamma rays themselves will turn into a new tool that will allow experiments with the most exotic types of matter in the universe. At least scientists hope so.