World’s most powerful X-ray laser is working now in the U.S.


The world’s most powerful publicly known X-ray laser at the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, two-mile-long, has fired its first pulses. It has been upgraded and can deliver up to a million pulses per second, each up to 10,000 times brighter than those emitted by previous instruments , making it 8,000 times more powerful than its predecessor. “The wavelength of these X-rays is about the size of an atom, so the X-ray laser can track the internal structure of a molecule. And because the X-rays arrive in an ultrafast burst – femtosecond, a millionth of a billionth of a second – then we can ‘freeze frame’ the motion – similar to a strobe light in a disco,” Mike Dunne and Greg Hays, the LCLS director and LCLS-II project director, explained.


„It will lead to big discoveries in disciplines ranging from human health to quantum materials science,” US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. Soft-X-rays are useful for looking at where the electrons are in a molecule.Scientists can look at everything from the hardest metals to photosynthesis.