Accelerating Science Discovery - Join the Discussion

OSTIblog Articles in the Linac Coherent Light Source Topic

Free-Electron Lasers move discovery into warp speed


Free-Electron Lasers move discovery into warp speed

Scientific research being performed today using free-electron lasers could be fodder for the next James Bond or Star Wars movie but it is way better than science fiction and it is real. 

Almost everything we know about the laws of nature and how and why we react to the world around us took many centuries to develop. However, recent free-electron laser research breakthroughs are shedding light on these fundamental processes of life and moving scientific discovery into warp speed.

The revolutionary Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at the SLAC National Acceleratory Laboratory is the world’s most powerful x-ray free-electron laser and represents a new kind of laboratory for doing many types of physics. Using SLAC's linear accelerator to create the powerful X-rays, LCLS pushes science to new extremes with ultrabright, ultrashort pulses that capture atomic-scale snapshots in quadrillionths of a second.  

Researchers have used the LCLS to measure, in atomic detail, a key process at work in extreme plasmas like those found in stars, the rims of black holes and other massive cosmic phenomena. This important x-ray laser research is changing our understanding of the larger physical processes taking place in celestial sources and may pave the way for increased astrophysics research.   

The first new biological structure has been solved by a group of international scientists using the LCLS.  The study mapped a weak spot in the parasite that causes African sleeping sickness, pinpointing a promising new target for treating a disease that annually kills about 30,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa. ...

Related Topics: atomic-scale, free-electron lasers, Linac Coherent Light Source, plasma, scientists, ultrabright, x-rays