Phased Approach for a Free Electron Laser Facility Presented At International Conference
Posted June 14, 2012
A phased approach to the construction of a full service free electron laser (FEL) facility was presented at the International Particle Accelerator Conference (IPAC) in May of 2012. [PDF Link]. In addition, a progress report was presented on the superconducting RF electron gun program [PDF Link].
The principal goal of these efforts is to optimize the value of the facility by minimizing the cost while maximizing scientific research. An FEL facility will enable researchers to continue tackling the important issues of the day—energy efficiency, cancer research, nanotechnology, and more.
In a free electron laser, an electron beam is sent through a long array of magnets (an undulator) that causes the beam to jiggle and emit light. If the electrons are close enough they will produce light in unison and make a laser beam of radiation—and this is the key difference with the current generation of light sources. The resulting radiation can produce super-short pulses of light measured in quadrillionths of a second (femtoseconds). These pulses allow researchers to study reactions as they are happening in real time. This will enable pursuit of answers to a wide range of research questions, many of which are currently unapproachable.
The work presented at IPAC details a facility that will be built in phases. The first phase will support a strong initial science program while allowing the application of experience gained and well tested innovations to later phases. The additional phases, which will build on extant infrastructure without duplicating costs, would provide an increasingly diverse scientific research program with photon (light) energies extending to hard X-rays.
Figure 1: For a phased approach to building an FEL facility the blue area of the graphic highlights techniques and science enabled at different energies; the right-hand side depicts the photon energies that can be reached with each construction phase. Further phases are possible.
Figure 2: The figure above shows a step-wise implementation of an FEL facility. Each Phase can be implemented with virtually no impact on research with operational Phases.
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