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US, German Labs to Collaborate on X-Ray Lasers
Nov 2002
MENLO PARK, Calif., Nov. 12 -- The US Dept. of Energy's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and the German particle physics and synchrotron radiation laboratory Deutsches-Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) signed an agreement on Nov. 1 to collaborate on developing x-ray free-electron lasers. The labs said the collaboration will spur a giant leap forward for synchrotron radiation research.

Both facilities will generate x-ray pulses 10 billion times brighter and a thousandfold shorter in duration than existing sources, according to a SLAC statement. Scientists can use these ultrabrilliant beams to explore previously inaccessible dynamics in chemistry, biology and materials science, as well as in nanoscale phenomena and atomic and plasma physics.

The labs are exploring the scientific capabilities that x-ray free-electron lasers will offer and are planning for two facilities -- the Linac coherent light source (LCLS) at SLAC and the TESLA x-ray free-electron laser (TESLA-XFEL) at DESY. The LCLS project has been authorized by the Department of Energy, and the facility is scheduled to be operational in 2008. The TESLA-XFEL is expected to open in 2011.

"These machines can be used to observe atoms in the process of forming or breaking bonds in molecules -- in effect, freeze-frame photography of molecular formation," said John Galayda, head of the SLAC x-ray free-electron laser project.

Both DESY and SLAC are already working on short-wavelength linear-accelerator-driven light sources that provide a preview of the capabilities of LCLS and TESLA-XFEL.

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