Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS)
In a new state-of-the-art lab at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, components of ribosomes – tiny biological machines that make new proteins and play a vital role in gene expression and antibiotic treatments – form crystals in a liquid solution.
Signs at the lab's entryway warn of the potential for contamination – these delicate samples can be damaged by human touch, a sneeze or a dust particle.
A high-energy SLAC laser that creates shock waves and superhot plasmas needs to cool for about 10 minutes between shots. In the meantime, the rapid-fire pulses produced by SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray laser, which probes the extreme states of matter produced by this initial laser shot, are unused.
A new tool at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source splits individual X-ray laser pulses into two pulses that can hit a target one right after another with precisely controlled timing, allowing scientists to trigger and measure specific ultrafast changes in atoms and molecules.
It all comes down to one tiny spot on a diamond-cut, highly pure copper plate. That's where every X-ray laser pulse at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source gets its start. That tiny spot must be close to perfect or it can impair and even halt LCLS operations.
SLAC in May 2013 opened a new test facility at the Accelerator Structure Test Area (ASTA) to study the complex physics and chemistry that cause that shiny copper slab, called a cathode, to degrade over time, and to identify ways to maintain and improve its performance.
A new screening program will allow researchers to quickly confirm whether precious biological samples yield useful information when struck by the intense X-ray pulses at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS).
A tool developed half a century ago for sorting subatomic particles has been redesigned to measure X-ray laser pulses at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS).
John Hill watched with eager anticipation as controllers ramped up the power systems driving SLAC's X-ray laser in an attempt to achieve the record high energies needed to make his experiment a runaway success.
The Brookhaven National Laboratory scientist was the leader of a research team that had come from Illinois, Germany, Switzerland and England to use the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), and this was their last day. They would get only one shot.
It's no surprise that the data systems for SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray laser have drawn heavily on the expertise of the particle physics community, where collecting and analyzing massive amounts of data are key to scientific success.
With its detectors collecting information on atomic- and molecular-scale phenomena measured in quadrillionths of a second, LCLS stores data at a rate and scale comparable to experiments at the world's most powerful particle collider, the Large Hadron Collider in Europe.
Pushing gold exploration to the nanoscale, scientists used SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray laser to produce a series of 3-D images that detail a ringing effect in tiny gold crystals. The technique provides a unique window for studying why smaller is better for some specialized materials, including those used in chemical reactions and electronic components, for example.
Three SLAC scientists will receive Early Career Research Program grants from the U.S. Department of Energy for research to boost the peak power of X-ray laser pulses, model catalytic chemical reactions and build better simulations of particle collisions at CERN's Large Hadron Collider.