The Big New Xray Laser At SLAC

The big linear accelerator at SLAC is upgrading.  The interesting thing is that they are using technology that I’m familiar with, the superconducting radiocavity. These cavities were first used at Jefferson Lab in Virginia where I worked for two years.  They actually a very interesting use of extreme cryogenics, high intensity microwaves and exotic materials and mechanical technologies.

Click to access srfbrochure_print.pdf

The world’s brightest X-ray laser currently resides in SLAC’s National Accelerator Laboratory, as part of a $1 billion project.

Apparently laying claims to the world’s brightest X-ray laser just isn’t enough these days, however, because the laser is receiving an upgrade that will make it 10,000 times brighter and 8,000 times faster.

Eventually, the laser will be able to shell out a million pulses per second, enabling it to analyze things in excruciating detail such as the movement of electrical charges.

Laser pulses will be pushed through niobium metal cavities held at minus 456 degrees Fahrenheit.

SLAC says this process manifests “an almost continuous X-ray laser beam with pulses that are 10,000 times brighter, on average, than those of [the original laser] and arrive up to a million times per second.”

“[It]will take X-ray science to the next level, opening the door to a whole new range of studies of the ultrafast and ultrasmall,” noted SLAC’s Mike Dunne in a press release. “This will tremendously advance our ability to develop transformative technologies of the future, including novel electronics, life-saving drugs, and innovative energy solutions.”

I haven’t been to SLAC, but here’s some pics of stuff from Jefferson Lab.


This new X ray laser should do soma amazing things. When they happen, It’s goignng to be great.

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