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Particle accelerator that accelerates charged atomic or subatomic particles in a constant magnetic field. It consists of two hollow semicircular electrodes, called dees, in a large evacuated cylindrical box. An alternating electric field between the dees continuously accelerates the particles from one dee to the other, while the magnetic field guides them in a circular path. As the speed of the particles increases, so does the radius of their path, and the particles spiral outward. In this manner, a cyclotron can accelerate protons to energies of up to 25 million electron volts.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on cyclotron, visit Britannica.com.