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Understanding the nature and relationship of space and time, how matter and energy interact, and the origins of elementary particles is no small task. The work of high energy physics opens the door to a world of possibilities and understanding. Conducting this research requires advanced materials providing both consistency and stability. From long beam pipes and large-diameter UHV chambers to CF flanges, beryllium is the material of choice.

The Right Combination of Properties

In the realm of high energy physics research, there is no room for compromising on the quality and capabilities of the materials used. Laboratories, universities and research facilities use beryllium for its unmatched properties allowing them to understand the connections between everything—large and small—in the universe.

Beryllium's characteristics are unrivaled for high energy physics. It is the most commonly-used window material for x-ray equipment and components in high energy physics because of its low atomic mass and high transparency to sub-atomic particles.

The unique properties of beryllium are what draw physicists to the material. Its properties allow for experiments ranging from fusion reactors to particle physics.

Beryllium Properties

  • Favorable 11.5 CTE
  • Tough
  • High Heat Capacity
  • High Thermal Conductivity
  • Strong
  • 1.85 g/cm3 density
  • Lightweight
  • Stiff

The favorable mechanical properties of beryllium, including a melting point of 1,287°C, result in its use in some of the most high-profile experiments around the world.

Documenting the Extraordinary

Making what was once impossible, possible, beryllium is a miracle material in the world of high energy physics research. Thanks to beryllium, 2015 marked the first time scientists were able to make a real-time molecular movie of a chemical reaction, lending new insights into how chemical bonds form.

Capturing the molecular changes, which take about 200 femtoseconds (quadrillionths of a second), isn't possible with standard film and could not be captured with visible light. Enter beryllium.

The U.S. Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory called on Materion to help it develop beryllium windows for its Linac Coherent Light Source, a two-mile long light source that fires x-ray laser pulses. The Materion beryllium windows contained between 98.5 and 99.8 percent pure beryllium, which enabled high energy x-rays to pass through the windows unimpeded. Unlike other high-Z materials that allow x-ray transmission, beryllium enabled a scattering of rays that weren't perturbed or consumed in the small space. At the same time, the windows also exhibited both high tensile strength (to withstand widely varying pressures) and high temperature endurance (up to 1,287o C).

Researchers at SLAC were able to watch the reaction ensue, answering the long-standing question about how the molecule actually opens and allowing for the possibility of recording larger molecules in the future.

Materion Electrofusion, a trusted, integrated global producer for beryllium components, offers expertise and experience that can help bring your ideas to life. To learn more about the abilities of beryllium and how Materion Electrofusion can help you, contact us.