Staff Forms New Company to Develop Tabletop Synchrotron
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."