A Compact, Portable, Low-Voltage Linear Photoelectron Accelerator

Tech ID: 23677 / UC Case 2012-105-0


UCLA researchers in the department of Physics and Astronomy have developed a pocket-sized linear accelerator based on the novel triboelectric effect.


Electromagnetic radiation generators are in high demand in the scientific, industrial, and medical field. For example, radiation generators with high energy and flux are necessary for stereotactic radiosurgery, such as the CyberKnife, where targeted tissue can be destroyed without the need for surgical incision. The ideal generator is portable, compact, low-voltage, and produces radiation of sufficient energy and flux. While compact mechanoluminescent x-ray generators have recently been demonstrated, they have been fundamentally limited in their energy and flux. Various types of linear accelerators are capable of producing radiation with sufficient energy and flux, but their size limits their portability and use. A compact, portable, low-voltage, linear accelerator could produce radiation of sufficient energy and flux for a variety of medical, scientific, industrial, and security needs.


Professor Putterman and colleagues have developed a compact, portable, low-voltage, linear accelerator that circumvents the limitations seen in mechanoluminescent x-ray generators. Using a novel technique based on triboelectricity to produce a strong electric field, electrons are seeded into the field using a secondary electron source. By using a secondary source, the driving electric field and resulting radiation energy can be increased. Furthermore, the flux generated can approach the theoretical limit based on the triboelectric charge density. This low-voltage solution will enable the development of highly compact and portable linear accelerators with much higher radiation energy and flux than achievable with the currently available mechanoluminescent x-ray generators.


  • Low voltage
    • Decreased design and operating costs
  • Compact and portable
  • Increased energy and flux

Potential Applications:

  • Radiation for:
    • Radiosurgery devices (less size constraints on equipment)
    • Tabletop and lab-on-a-chip devices
    • Imaging of containers and packages for security applications
    • On-site scientific, industrial, art, and archeological materials analysis
    • Non-destructive materials analysis
    • On-site medical x-ray imaging of injuries
    • Material surface modification and isotope manufacturing


State Of Development

An experiment for proof-of-concept has recently been completed.

Related Materials

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 10,153,059 12/11/2018 2012-105


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  • Putterman, Seth J.

Other Information


Cleantech, triboelectricity, X-rays

Categorized As