World’s Brightest X-ray Laser Will Get 10,000 Times Brighter With A Major Upgrade

Posted: Apr 6 2016, 9:54am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 6 2016, 9:39pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


World’s Brightest X-ray Laser will Get 10,000 Times Brighter with a Major Upgrade
Illustration of an electron beam traveling through a niobium cavity. Credit: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

The most powerful and brightest X-ray laser ever is getting a billion-dollar upgrade which will greatly increase the power and capacity of the device

Six years ago, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory presented the most powerful and brightest X-ray laser ever seen in the world. Now, this device is getting a major upgrade and the company is attaching an additional X-ray laser beam will it that will be 10,000 times brighter than the existing one and will fire an electron beam 8,000 times faster, at a rate of million pulses per second.

The project, known as LCLS-II, will immensely boost the power and capacity of the device and will enable researchers to see the unprecedented details of the atomic world. 

“LCLS-II will take X-ray science to the next level, opening the door to a whole new range of studies of the ultrafast and ultra-small,” said LCLS Director Mike Dunne. “This will tremendously advance our ability to develop transformative technologies of the future, including novel electronics, life-saving drugs and innovative energy solutions.”

The new X-ray laser will work in tandem with the existing one but will help unravel more details about nature’s fundamental processes and also on ultrafast timescale. It has implications for numerous fields including chemistry where it will provide more clear view of how chemical bonds form and break, materials science where it will help understand how materials change their properties and sharp 3D images of disease causing proteins that could hold the key for discovering potential better treatments. 

Together, both the lasers will ensure a great increase in the number of experiments, enable researchers to capture remarkably detailed snapshots and will take observations to another level. 

“The upgrade will benefit X-ray experiments in many different ways,” said co-researcher Peter Weber from Brown University. “With LCLS-II, we’ll be able to bring the motions of atoms much more into focus, which will help us better understand the dynamics of crucial chemical reactions.”

The renovation project will cost $1 billion and is expected to complete in early 2020s.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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