January 21, 2005, Menlo Park, CA--Plans by the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) to build a revolutionary new synchrotron X-ray source received a major boost thanks to $54 million in funding provided by Congress in the fiscal 2005 budget appropriation.
"The Department of Energy's Office of Science has given the project very high priority and got our full request through Congress," said SLAC physicist John Galayda, director of the project, called the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS).
Said Professor Keith Hodgson, director of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL) at SLAC: "LCLS will be the world's first X-ray free electron laser and will provide a powerful combination of laser properties delivered at X-ray wavelengths." LCLS X-ray pulses will be 1,000 times shorter and 10 billion times brighter than pulses available at existing synchrotron sources like SSRL's SPEAR3. That will enable breakthrough science such as the creation and study of exotic states of matter, imaging the structures and dynamics of biological and chemical molecules on the atomic scale and probing the fundamental aspects of atomic structure.
Congress began funding project engineering and design work for LCLS in fiscal 2003 with $6 million. Last year, LCLS received $7.5 million for engineering and design, and $2 million for research and development. The big step up to $54 million marks the first phase of construction. Actual groundbreaking and construction of new buildings will begin in 2006. Construction will include 800 meters of tunnel and 100,000 square feet of work space, including underground experimental halls and a central laboratory office support building.
The main campus, in close cooperation with SLAC and SSRL, is preparing to take advantage of the unique research capabilities of LCLS with a new center for ultrafast science that will share the LCLS facility. The Department of Energy awarded $4.7 million for three years, and the W. M. Keck Foundation in early January awarded Stanford $1 million for developing research programs in the center.
Scientists expect LCLS to deliver "first light" to experimenters in 2009.