What is an electronvolt?
- Charged particles tend to speed up in an electric field, defined as an electric potential - or voltage - spread over a distance
- One electron volt (eV) is the energy gained by a single electron as it accelerates through a potential of one volt
- It is a convenient unit of measure for particle accelerators, which speed particles up through much higher electric potentials
- The first accelerators only created bunches of particles with an energy of about a million eV
- The LHC can reach beam energies a million times higher: up to several teraelectronvolts (TeV)
- This is still only the energy in the motion of a flying mosquito
- But LHC beams include trillions of these particles, each travelling at more than 99.99% of the speed of light