Femtosecond X-ray system ready for action

Oct. 6, 2010
Menlo Park, CA--The X-ray Pump Probe (XPP) instrument at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) is installed and ready for its first user experiments several weeks ahead of schedule.

Menlo Park, CA--The X-ray pump probe (XPP) instrument at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) is installed and ready for its first user experiments several weeks ahead of schedule.

Located at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the LCLS is the world's first hard-X-ray laser and will ultimately provide the world's brightest, shortest (100 fs) pulses of laser X-rays for scientific study. The XPP instrument will take advantage of these femtosecond X-ray pulses to observe important chemical and biological processes, including the photosynthetic generation of chemical energy and the atomic-scale dynamics of proteins.

Experiments with the XPP instrument will use an optical laser pulse to stimulate biological, chemical and physical transformations on the atomic scalechanges that involve the motions of electrons, atoms and molecules over billionths of a meter and quadrillionths of a second. As precisely timed femtosecond X-ray pulses hit the optically excited samples, scattering patterns can be used to determine photo-induced changes and new molecular structures with unprecedented detail.

The XPP project received more than 40% of its funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, "which helped allow completion of most of the final instrument configuration in time for the first user experiments in mid-October," said LCLS Ultrafast Scientific Instrument project manager Tom Fornek.

The first of two XPP installation phases, called the "Early Science" milestone, was scheduled to be completed on October 19 and included the commissioning of several components that would provide a basic instrument for the first user runs.

Additional capabilities weren't planned until early 2011, but the instrument team was able to incorporate them into the early science installations, which they completed on August 27. These final components included a reference laser, X-ray focusing lenses and a monochromator.

"Infusion of Recovery Act funds enabled this project to not only deliver the XPP earlier than planned but to enhance its capabilities for early experiments," said Hannibal Joma, the Federal Project Director at SLAC's Department of Energy site office. "Next generation instruments such as XPP are of high priority to the DOE Office of Science because they provide the functionalities required to address grand scientific challenges."

When the first XPP users arrive this fall, they will be able to conduct experiments with much more than a basic instrument, which XPP instrument scientist David Fritz said "will enhance our chance of success."

Source SLAC Today

About the Author

Stephen G. Anderson | Director, Industry Development - SPIE

 Stephen Anderson is a photonics industry expert with an international background and has been actively involved with lasers and photonics for more than 30 years. As Director, Industry Development at SPIE – The international society for optics and photonics – he is responsible for tracking the photonics industry markets and technology to help define long-term strategy, while also facilitating development of SPIE’s industry activities. Before joining SPIE, Anderson was Associate Publisher and Editor in Chief of Laser Focus World and chaired the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar. Anderson also co-founded the BioOptics World brand. Anderson holds a chemistry degree from the University of York and an Executive MBA from Golden Gate University.    

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