The Upgraded LCLS-II X-ray Laser Revolutionizes Research with Unprecedented Capabilities

The LCLS-II X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has achieved a significant breakthrough by successfully producing its first X-rays. This upgrade, which offers unparalleled capabilities, marks a new era in research with X-rays.

With up to a million X-ray flashes per second, the LCLS-II transforms the ability of scientists to explore atomic-scale, ultrafast phenomena. This development is crucial for various applications, including quantum materials, clean energy technologies, and medicine.

Scientists worldwide are eager to embark on an ambitious science program inspired by the capabilities of the newly upgraded LCLS-II. This technology enables the examination of quantum materials with unprecedented resolution, leading to the development of new forms of computing and communications.

Furthermore, the LCLS-II helps reveal unpredictable and fleeting chemical events, which can inform the creation of more sustainable industries and clean energy technologies. It also allows scientists to study biological molecules to develop new types of pharmaceuticals. Lastly, the LCLS-II enables the study of the world on the fastest timescales, opening up entirely new fields of scientific investigation.

The achievement of “first light” is the culmination of over a decade of work. The upgrade project involved thousands of scientists, engineers, and technicians across the Department of Energy (DOE), along with various institutional partners.

X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) are instrumental in capturing the behavior of molecules, atoms, and electrons with unprecedented detail. XFELs have led to significant scientific achievements, such as the study of complex chemical processes through the creation of the first “molecular movie,” the observation of photosynthesis in real-time, and the exploration of extreme conditions that shape the evolution of planets.

Compared to its predecessor, the LCLS-II sets a new standard for X-ray light sources. It can produce up to a million X-ray pulses per second, making it 8,000 times more powerful. The X-ray beam it generates is on average 10,000 times brighter, a world record for today’s most powerful X-ray light sources.

The LCLS-II upgrade involved extensive collaboration and advanced technology. Five U.S. national laboratories, a university, and researchers from around the world contributed to the realization of this project. The central element of the LCLS-II’s enhanced capabilities is its revolutionary superconducting accelerator. Comprising 37 cryogenic modules cooled to extremely low temperatures, this accelerator allows for high-energy electron acceleration with minimal energy loss.

The successful achievement of this breakthrough is a testament to the collective expertise and talent of the collaboration involved. The upgraded LCLS-II X-ray laser is expected to drive groundbreaking discoveries across various scientific disciplines and contribute to national science priorities.

– SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
– Department of Energy (DOE)
– U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm
– DOE Office of Science Director Asmeret Asefaw Berhe
– Fermilab Director Lia Merminga