The brightest X-ray laser in the world is almost ready – nach Welt

Scientists in dSLAC Energy’s National Accelerator Laboratory Division is putting the finishing touches to what will become the world’s brightest laser. disebut Linac Coherent Light Source II (LCLS-II)It will be 10,000 times brighter than the brightest laser yet, as soon as it is ready for use.

Lasers are currently being built about 9 meters underground near Stanford University and they promise to help physicists uncover some of the fundamental unknowns of our universe. The laser extends approximately 3.2 km in a specially dug tunnel.

Predecessor, Linac I. Coherent light sources The LCLS-I was launched in 2009 and can produce a beam that can produce 120 light pulses per second. However, the LCLS-II broke that record with its ability to generate one million pulses per second.

“I think it’s fair to say that LCLS-II will usher in a new era in science,” said Dr. James Cryan, one of the scientists at SLAC. CNET on an exclusive tour of new facilities.

The new laser is “able to generate pulses as long as femtoseconds. Femtosecond to second because one second corresponds to the age of the universe. ”This ultra-fast pulse function will enable scientists to conduct experiments that they would never have thought possible.

To this end, the LCLS-II will function a bit like a microscope, but with atomic accuracy. The heart of the device is a powerful particle accelerator that accelerates charged particles and directs them into extremely powerful beams.

These rays are then passed through a series of alternating magnets called corrugators to create X-rays. Scientists can use these X-rays to create something called a “molecular film”. You can think of this as a moving portrait of an atom or molecule that captures each “photo”. In a few millionths of a second and put together like a film.

The predecessors of the new laser were slower in taking these photos, but they allowed scientists from around the world to make very interesting and important discoveries of the past. That includes things like Watch the chemical reactions taking place, show the behavior of the atoms inside the star, and snap live photos detailing the process of photosynthesis. The possibility of taking pictures at femtosecond intervals with the new laser is suitable Andrew Borrell, Associate Laboratory Director at SLAC, will truly be a game changer.

“If you think of a strong light that goes out 120 times, you will see an image. And if it goes out a million times in a second, you get a completely different picture. You can make a much better movie that way, ”he said. to say.

The new laser is a completely different beast than its predecessor

The acquisition speed of the LCLS-II is not the only difference between the new laser and its predecessor.

While both devices accelerate electrons to almost the speed of light, they each do it differently. For example, LCLS-I pushes electrons through a copper tube at room temperature. This is fine for short bursts, but not ideal for continuous operation.

This is where the new laser comes into play by itself. Continuous operation, as required for the LCLS-II, generates a lot of heat. Traditional copper cavities, such as those used in LCLS-I, will dissipate much of this heat, so engineers are turning to new superconducting accelerators.

The new material consists of dozens of 12 m long devices called Freezer unit designed to operate at 2 degrees above absolute zero (-456 degrees Fahrenheit). It is kept at operating temperature by a large above-ground cryogenic facility.

All of these kits, says Cryan, will enable SLAC scientists to answer fundamental questions such as: “How does energy transfer in molecular systems take place? How does the charge transfer work? ”
“Once we understand some of these principles, we can start applying them to understand how we can perform artificial photosynthesis and build better solar cells.”

The SLAC scientists hope to be able to power a new laser in the new year and hope to be able to produce the first X-rays in the summer. It will be interesting to see what secrets of the universe LCLS-II will reveal in 2022 and beyond.

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