February 21, 2003  


Compact Light Source Goes Commercial

Staff Forms New Company to Develop Tabletop Synchrotron Light Source

By Tom Mead

A spin-off enterprise based on SLAC technology transfer has emerged. A new company has been formed to develop a compact synchrotron light source based on Compton scattering of a laser beam. The founders of the company are Ron Ruth (ARDA), Rod Loewen (KLY), and Jeff Rifkin (formerly with ARDA). The National Institutes of Health is funding the prototype development.

The enterprise is named Lyncean Technologies, Inc. Lyncean refers to the eye of the lynx, historically used as a metaphor for acute and penetrating vision. The name is apt; Lyncean intends to develop and market a tabletop light source, which has imaging capabilities comparable to a modern synchrotron light source. This represents an effective scale reduction of 200:1 over existing synchrotron light sources.

How it Works

The Compact Light Source (CLS) builds on the SLAC and SSRL experience with large synchrotrons. Existing synchrotron light sources at U.S. facilities employ multi-GeV electron beams stored in large rings of magnets to generate intense, bright 0.1 nm wavelength radiation. The CLS uses a marriage of an electron beam and laser beam to accomplish the same effect. The shift from the periodic magnets (undulators or wigglers) of the typical synchrotron light source, to the laser beam in the CLS, allows a reduction of energy and scale by a factor of 200. The CLS is so small that it can easily fit on a typical SLAC conference table.


During the past 30 years, synchrotron light sources have become the x-ray probe of choice for materials scientists, physicists, chemists, biologists and research physicians. With their high-quality, intense x-ray beams, these large research facilities have spawned a large number of new technologies spanning a broad array of applications. Rather than having to go to a facility like SSRL, miniaturization will allow researchers to use the CLS at their own site.

Ruth, who is taking a part-time leave from SLAC to get the company launched, said, "We need to miniaturize both the machine and the cost of ownership. In terms of technology transfer and dispersion, this is a way of bringing to the health community, the biology community, and to society some of the very specialized knowledge and technologies produced at SLAC over the past 40 years."  


The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Friday February 21, 2003 by Kathy B