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Secretary Chu Dedicates World's Most Powerful X-ray Laser

August 16, 2010 - 12:00am


Washington, D.C. - U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today dedicated the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), the world's first and most powerful X-ray laser, at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The LCLS will play an essential role in addressing the scientific needs of the 21st century by exploring new ways to create better energy sources and enabling advances in a range of scientific fields. The LCLS produces pulses of X-rays more than a billion times brighter than the most powerful existing sources. The ultrafast X-ray pulses are used much like flashes from a high-speed strobe light, enabling scientists to take stop-motion pictures of atoms and molecules in motion, shedding light on the fundamental processes of chemistry, technology, and life itself.

"The LCLS shows what the scientific workforce of our nation, in cooperation with our international partners, is capable of achieving," said Secretary Chu. "Pioneering research will remain critical if the U.S. is to remain a global leader when it comes to innovation and competitiveness."

The LCLS is a new type of scientific facility that promises to revolutionize our view of the atomic world as it performs basic scientific research and drives applications in energy and environmental sciences, drug development and materials engineering. It is able to view matter on a scale of individual atoms, and on time scales fast enough to see atomic motion and changes in the chemical bonds between them.   This improved understanding of the behavior of matter at the nanoscale and in ultrafast time intervals will provide scientists with an ability to manipulate matter to unprecedented degrees. The resulting breakthroughs are expected to lead to revolutionary new materials with unprecedented combinations of properties for a host of applications throughout the American economy, promoting progress especially in energy, but also transportation, information technology, and medicine, to name only a few fields.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided $53.6 million to accelerate the construction of scientific instruments for the LCLS and to develop an additional instrument.

The LCLS is a $420 million project funded by the Department of Energy with construction led by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Other national laboratories and universities provided significant support and components of the machine during the development of the LCLS.

For more information about the LCLS visit SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

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