International Conference Returns to Stanford
By Monica Bobra
The 27th annual Free-Electron Laser Conference (FEL2005) will take place at the Arrilaga Alumni Center on the Stanford University campus August 21-26, drawing over 250 scientists and students from Europe, Japan, Korea and the United States. FEL2005 will focus on the scientific, technological and user aspects of free-electron lasers. The conference will bring together the world’s experts in free-electron laser theory and experiment.
“If somebody wanted a crash course in the status of this field, this would be the place to come,” said conference co-chair John Galayda (LCLS). “This is an auspicious time to return to Stanford—the home of the free electron laser. Stanford has been the frontline of FEL research and development in this many-faceted field.”
The conference is particularly timely for SLAC staff working on the LCLS, which will house the world’s first free-electron x-ray laser—an instrument scientists are hoping will create opportunities for groundbreaking research in atomic physics, materials science, plasma physics, biology and chemistry. A key element will be direct interaction between LCLS project staff, accelerator and synchrotron radiation researchers at both SLAC and Stanford with the international FEL community and prospective LCLS Users. With many free-electron laser projects underway at this time FEL2005 is likely to attract prospective LCLS users.
“This would be a nice way for SLAC engineers to come in contact with people who are wrestling with the same problems—at a time when we can still learn,” said Galayda. “A year from now, we’ll be building and learning at our own expense.”
The weeklong conference will focus on recent experimental results, as well as engineering design of free-electron lasers. Presenters will also discuss the scientific applications of such lasers. For example, Phil Bucksbaum (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) will give a talk entitled ‘What to do with Femtosecond Pulses?’
Using the 100 femtosecond pulse from the LCLS laser, scientists are hoping to
unlock secrets like how atoms break away from molecules. The pulses act like a strobe light, effectively halting the motion of atoms within a material. In this manner, scientists are also hoping to snap images of a single molecule, a goal that captures everybody’s imagination, according to Galayda.
In addition to talks, poster sessions and exhibits from commercial manufacturers of free-electron laser hardware, the conference chairs will present their annual prize to a noted contributor to the free-electron laser field. Vladimir Litvinenko (BNL) and Hiroyuki Hama (Institute for Molecular Science), who shared the $3,000 prize last year for research in storage ring-based free-electron lasers, will deliver the FEL Prize lectures on the first day of the conference.
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