Menlo Park – The SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has announced the beginning on Tuesday of a major upgrade of the unique X-ray laser at the Department of Energy. The world’s most powerful X-ray laser will get a billion-dollar-worthy update.
The project will add a second X-ray beam to the laser known as Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), which will make it 10,000 times brighter than the previous one and 8,000 faster, up to a million pulses per second, according to a statement from the organization.
Once the update is ready, in about four years, the laser will be known as LCLS-II and it will greatly increase the power and capacity of SLAC’s LCLS for experiments that, according to researchers, sharpen the view of how nature works on the atomic level and on ultrafast timescales.
“LCLS-II will take X-ray science to the next level, opening the door to a whole new range of studies of the ultrafast and ultrasmall,” said LCLS Director Mike Dunne. “This will tremendously advance our ability to develop transformative technologies of the future, including novel electronics, life-saving drugs and innovative energy solutions.”
A different approach
There are many areas to be benefited by the upgraded version of the X-ray laser, and it will benefit experiments in many different ways, commented Peter Weber, Brown University Professor, who co-led an LCLS study that used X-ray scattering to track ultrafast structural changes as ring-shaped gas molecules burst open in a chemical reaction, vital to many processes in nature, according to the SLAC.
With LCLS-II, researchers will be able to bring the motions of atoms much more into focus, which will help them better to understand of the dynamics of crucial chemical reactions, added Weber.
For the major improve in the laser’s functions, SLAC teamed up with four others national labs like Argonne, Berkeley Lab, Fermilab and Jefferson Lab, besides Cornell University. Each one offers a different approach from planning to component design, acquisition and construction.