Most stories on the so called "accelerator on a chip" either fail to mention or deeply bury an important detail.     This device needs to be primed by a conventional accelerator.   In doing so, they give the wrong impression of what has been developed.

First, this is an important advance in accelerator physics and a really cool example of what can be done with the creative use of common scientific apparatus and materials.   It is advances like this that will make next generation high energy physics affordable.   

With that out of the way....

THIS IS NOT A WHOLE ACCELERATOR ON A CHIP!  This device gives the electrons a boost, yes but this is just one part of a much much larger accelerator, in the sense that the general public understands the term.   That is a very important point as the main consumers of press releases and the stories written based on them are members of the general public.  People who understand lasers, materials, and accelerators, like me, know what is meant by this phrase.   Scientist who don't generally write for the public sometimes forget that plenty of very intelligent people aren't familiar with how we physicists use these terms.  Does it accelerate the electrons, sure.  Technically that makes it an "accelerator".   However...

In the accelerator-on-a-chip experiments, electrons are first accelerated to near light-speed in a conventional accelerator. Then they are focused into a tiny, half-micron-high channel within a fused silica glass chip just half a millimeter long. The channel is patterned with precisely spaced nanoscale ridges. Infrared laser light shining on the pattern generates electrical fields that interact with the electrons in the channel to boost their energy.
Turning the accelerator on a chip into a full-fledged tabletop accelerator will require a more compact way to get the electrons up to speed before they enter the device. (emphasis mine)

To be very clear this is not a "Tevatron", "LHC", or "ILC"... on a chip.  The impression that it could be is what many non-physicist will come away with.  This is what very well could be an important part of an ILC or future LC, or some device that will be able to fit into the optics/laser lab at DePaul or NIU or Northwestern etc.  That's all this will be in the foreseeable future*. 



If one has the access and wants more details the best source to read is
Demonstration of electron acceleration in a laser-driven dielectric microstructure E. A. Peralta, K. Soong**, R. J. England, et. al. 

*The sci-fi fan in me says that in the 24th century something like this could be the basis of your phaser pistol.   Though having it strapped to your waist might not be good for your next generation.** Dr. Soong  The same last name as the fictional creator of the android Data!  Interesting...