July 2, 2007 – Argonne National Laboratory recently announced its progress in the design and construction of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) undulator system that will be the world's first X-ray free electron laser when it becomes operational at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) in 2009.
The system will be the first X-ray laser to combine the brilliance of laser sources with the penetrating power and atomic sensitivity of X-rays. Argonne is a partner laboratory on the project and is responsible for the 130-meter undulator system, including magnets, support structures, beam diagnostics, controls and vacuum systems.
Undulators are the heart of the LCLS free electron laser, providing a precise magnetic field through which an electron beam will travel. The undulators' magnetic fields force the electrons to oscillate back and forth and produce large amounts of X-rays. These X-rays interact back on the electrons and force them to bunch at X-ray wavelengths. When this occurs, the electrons emit their light coherently, causing a large gain in radiation power that raises the X-rays' intensity.
For more information: www.anl.gov