Klystron Gallery

The 2-mile-long Klystron Gallery is one of the longest buildings in the world, and the SLAC linac, which runs through a tunnel 25 feet below the building, is the world’s longest linear accelerator. This 50-year-old structure is still the powerhouse driving the lab’s multiple innovative facilities and projects into the future.

The linac is powered by klystrons, which are red cylinders like the one at left in this photo; they run down the length of the gallery. There are more than 240 of them in the Klystron Gallery. Invented at Stanford by the Varian brothers, klystrons are massive microwave generators; each of the SLAC klystrons produces power pulses 60,000 times stronger than a kitchen microwave oven.  The microwaves they generate are channeled up through pipes and then guided back down to the accelerator tube 25 feet below ground. Electrons catch those waves and gain speed and energy on their way to the other end. The klystrons fire bursts of microwaves at precise time intervals to maintain the right “tide levels” of electromagnetic waves.

While klystrons are used here at SLAC for research purposes, you can also find them in TV broadcasting satellites, radars and medical X-ray machines.

Klystron Gallery

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Did you know? Our 2-mile-long Klystron Gallery extends beyond the vanishing point of the human eye – you can only see two-thirds of the way down its length!

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