Oct 17, 2021

This Powerful X-Ray Laser Can See the Invisible World

Posted by in category: particle physics

The LCLS-II will be the world’s brightest x-ray laser when it delivers “first light” in the early 2020’s. With this superconducting accelerator online, scientists will be able to see the hidden world of atoms and molecules like never before.
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Cover image credit: Nathan Taylor.

The LCLS is short for the Linac Coherent Light Source. It’s the world’s first hard x-ray free electron laser. The LCLS uses a particle accelerator to fire extremely bright electrons to create fast pulses of hard x-rays, which is why the machine is called an x-ray laser.

At the time of its first light in 2,009 the Linac Coherent Light Source generated x-ray pulses a billion times brighter than anything around. The LCLS is a tool unlike anything before it. We’re able to deliver these pulses of x-rays in one millionth of one billionth of a second.

The LCLS maxes out at 120 pulses per second. So to see the ultra small world like never before, scientists and engineers are building something new. The LCLS-II is going to take the free electron laser field up another quantum leap. This will be unprecedented and will allow for a beam that’s 8,000 times brighter than the LCLS beam and running at this million pulses per second.

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