SLAC Public Lecture Series
Seeing is Exploding: Snapping Biological Images with X-ray Laser Blasts
SLAC's X-ray laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source, launched a new generation of light sources when it opened 10 years ago last month, with beams 10 billion times brighter than any before. The energy from those powerful beams is enough to destroy any molecule put in its path, yet LCLS can snap a crisp image of the molecule just before it’s blasted apart. That’s a tremendous advantage when it comes to studying chemical reactions and biological processes as they evolve in literally a billionth of a blink of an eye. Some of the most fascinating results come from observing biological molecules at work. This lecture explores how LCLS captures molecules in action, including important biomolecules involved in sleep. It also presents movies of LCLS beams destroying samples, discuss the limitations that scientists still face in studying biological function, and describe SLAC’s future plans in this area.