How Atom Smashers Work

Atom Smasher Computers and Electronics

Wide-angle view of the control room of a particle accelerator
Photo courtesy Fermilab

Computers and electronic systems do several tasks in the operation of a particle accelerator:

  • control the particle source, klystrons and magnets used in accelerating the particles
  • monitor the beam
  • collect and record the data from the experiments
  • analyze the data
  • monitor the safety systems
  • shut down the system in the event of an emergency

Particle accelerators have many computers that control the system. These computers generally have the highest-speed microprocessors available, with large amounts of computer memory and data storage. These computers are often networked together. In some cases, computer data analyses may be done by on- or off-site supercomputers.