Always wanted to see a particle accelerator in real life? That is possible at the University Museum Utrecht! It is one of the heaviest and largest objects in our collection.
In the small exhibition '3MV particle accelerator: to the core with a bang', one of the heaviest and largest objects of the University Museum is displayed: the 3MV Van de Graaff-generator.
Nuclear Physics Research
The 3MV Van de Graaff-generator of Utrecht University dates back to 1958 and has been used for research until 2008. The 3MV put the Utrecht Nuclear Research on the map. Later, when the capacity of "only" three mega-electron volts was too small and heavier particle accelerators were necessary to reach deeper into the atomic nucleus, the 3MV was used for many other research areas such as research into solar cells.
Particle accelerators are still being used for research. The most famous one is located in Geneva: the Large Hadron Collider. This one is also being discussed in the small exhibition at the University Museum. How does the 3MV relate to this 27-kilometer-long accelerator at CERN?
Setting up the particle accelerator at the museum was a big job. Not only the floor needed to be additionally supported, also the assembly of the accelerator was a challenge. This could only be done by the researchers and technical staff that had previously worked with it. Their stories and the 3MV itself now form a physical memory at the University Museum of the time when experimental nuclear physics was still conducted at Utrecht University.