LCLS Coherent X-ray Imaging hutch
Then and now

Our story

SLAC began in 1962 with construction of a 2-mile-long electron accelerator that would take particle physics to new heights. Today we are known for conducting a broad range of research, leading large-scale science projects, and welcoming scientists around the world to come use our X-rays, lasers and electron beams for groundbreaking experiments. Learn more about our incredible scientific legacy, who we are and what we stand for, and take a tour to see it for yourself.


Kayla Ninh at LCLS’s ChemRIX Hutch 2.2 in Near Experimental Hall.


We hold ourselves to the highest standards, continually looking for ways to improve our work, advance our skills and make the best use of our experience and talent. We celebrate our individual strengths and talents while acknowledging that we achieve more by working together.

 Arrillaga Science Center battery research


We explore radically new ideas with courage and confidence, bring an optimistic and entrepreneurial spirit to our work and achieve outstanding results without compromising safety, security or the environment.

LSST Camera Team


We open new windows to the natural world and build a brighter future through discovery and innovation. Our research helps solve real-world problems and advances the interests of the nation.

An illustrious past

SLAC history and legacy

Hatched in 1956, the bold plan to build our accelerator was known as project “M” for monster, the biggest government-funded science project built to date. While our research has expanded in many directions since then, the SLAC linac is still the lab’s backbone, generating incredibly brilliant pulses for our pioneering X-ray free-electron laser. Our path to becoming a multipurpose lab includes four Nobel prizes, the first website in North America and a stretch of highway to nowhere. 

SLAC construction in 1964
The SLAC main entrance from Sand Hill Road. Science and User Support Building (SUSB) with Stanford Guest house to the left.

Public tours

Visit our lab 

Sign up for an in-person tour at SLAC led by a guide who can answer your questions, sign up for a guided virtual tour or explore the lab on your own with our virtual tour any time.

In-person tours Explore all tours