Stanford’s X-ray Laser Gets Upgraded to Peer Deeper into the Atomic World

Stanford’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has recently announced upgrades to the X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) component of the Linac Coherent Light Source-II (LCLS-II), making it one of the most powerful lasers in the world. This milestone achievement comes after over 13 years of work.

The XFEL of the LCLS-II is like a massive microscope that generates extremely bright X-ray light pulses. These pulses can capture the behaviors of electrons, atoms, and molecules on their natural timescales. What makes LCLS-II stand out is its capability to provide a million X-ray pulses per second, which is about 8,000 times more frequent than its predecessor.

The upgrades to LCLS-II’s XFEL rely on a state-of-the-art superconducting accelerator with 37 cryogenic modules that cool the environment to an astonishing -456°F, even colder than outer space. This upgraded laser will enable scientists to study quantum materials’ interactions in unprecedented detail.

SLAC’s announcement highlights the importance of understanding the properties of quantum materials, which often exhibit counter-intuitive characteristics. Through studying these materials, researchers hope to advance technology in various areas, such as ultrafast data processing, more energy-efficient devices, and even quantum computers.

In addition to its applications in technology, LCLS-II’s upgraded XFEL will also shed light on biological systems. Researchers will be able to study the intricate dance of proteins and the machinery of photosynthesis with unprecedented accuracy.

The upgrades to LCLS-II have been a long time coming, and this achievement showcases the culmination of years of dedicated work. With its enhanced capabilities, this powerful X-ray laser will provide invaluable insights into the atomic world and pave the way for future scientific discoveries.

– X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL): A laser that generates extremely bright X-ray light pulses used to study the behaviors of electrons, atoms, and molecules on a microscopic level.

– Stanford’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory