The US Department of Energy’s SLAC accelerator lab already has a pretty useful X-ray laser — the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). But, recent modifications to the device have scientists drooling over its new found potential. Using a thin wafer of diamond, the Stanford-run lab filtered the beam to a lone frequency, then amplified it in a process called “self-seeding.” That’s given the world’s most powerful X-ray laser even more punch by tossing out unneeded wavelengths which were reducing its intensity. The tweaks allow scientists across many fields to finesse and image matter at the atomic level, giving them more power to study and change it. According to the lab, researchers who came to observe the experiment from other X-ray laser facilities “were grinning from ear to ear” at the possibility of integrating the tech into their own labs. The SLAC team claims they could still add 10 times more punch to the LCLS with further optimization, putting the laser in a class by itself — X-ray-wise, anyway.
Filed under: Science