LCLS Collaboration Revs Up
By Heather Rock Woods
The Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) collaboration met in January to
focus on beginning to build the world’s first X-ray free electron laser.
collaboration members at January meeting. (Photo by Diana Rogers)
More than 50 people from SLAC and collaborating institutions (Argonne,
LLNL and UCLA) reviewed the design of the machine’s major systems.
“It’s our last pass over the design before we start spending money,”
said LCLS Director John Galayda.
The project recently received a major funding boost to $54 million for
fiscal year 2005 from a Congressional budget appropriation.
“The Department of Energy’s Office of Science—which funds synchrotron
programs—has given the project very high priority and got our full
request through Congress,” Galayda said. “I was euphoric.”
LCLS will provide a powerful combination of laser properties delivered
at X-ray wavelengths. The machine’s X-ray pulses will be 1,000 times
shorter and 10 billion times brighter than pulses available at existing
synchrotron sources like SPEAR3. This will enable breakthrough science
such as the creation and study of exotic states of matter, imaging the
structures and dynamics of biological and chemical molecules on the
atomic scale, and probing the fundamental aspects of atomic structure.
Congress began funding project engineering and design work for LCLS in
fiscal year 2003 with $6 million. Last year, LCLS received $7.5 million
for engineering and design, and $2 million for research and development.
The big step up to $54 million marks the first phase of construction.
Actual groundbreaking and construction of new buildings will begin in
2006. Construction will include half a mile of tunnel and 100,000 square
feet of work space, including underground experimental halls and a
central laboratory office support building.
“The funding this fiscal year, will go to accelerate engineering design
and buy the first components. [Progress] requires a big step upward in
activity this year,” Galayda said.
Thirty million dollars goes to long-lead procurement—buying components
that are needed early on to meet the overall schedule. SLAC will
transfer funds to Argonne to buy raw materials and supervise
construction of specialized undulator magnets to induce the electron
beam from SLAC’s linear accelerator (linac) to emit X-rays. SLAC will
build a magnet measurement facility to test, adjust and align the
complex magnet structures.
Another task in the early phase will be to build an injector to produce
an intense electron beam ready to travel at nearly the speed of light
down the last third of SLAC’s two-mile linac. The LCLS will not
interfere with operation of the B Factory, the Lab’s primary high energy
Project engineering and design will continue this year with $20 million
of the funds, with $4 million remaining for research and development,
primarily into X-ray optics and diagnostics. The project total is
approximately $315 million.
“In parallel with the construction effort, we’re also planning the
experimental program,” said SSRL Director Keith Hodgson.
An international scientific advisory committee evaluated and ranked
proposals for the initial suite of instruments. Working in close
cooperation with researchers who will use LCLS, the project is beginning
R&D and design on the instruments using $1.5 million of additional
funding provided by DOE
Stanford, in close cooperation with SLAC, is preparing to take advantage
of the unique research capabilities of LCLS with a new center for
ultrafast science that will share the LCLS facility. The DOE awarded
$4.7 million for three years, and the W. M. Keck Foundation in early
January awarded Stanford $1 million for developing research programs in
“The LCLS offers a new opportunity for Stanford to build research
programs that will strengthen the ties between SLAC and the main campus
in very substantial ways,” said Arthur Bienenstock, former SSRL director
and vice provost and dean of research and graduate policy at Stanford.
“LCLS will represent a major investment in scientific infrastructure at
the Laboratory, making yet another innovative use of the SLAC linac to
deliver a scientific tool of unprecedented capabilities,” said SLAC
Director Jonathan Dorfan. “Together with our SPEAR3 facility, SLAC will
be among the premier laboratories in the world for synchrotron science
in the coming decades.”
Scientists expect LCLS to deliver ‘first light’ to experimenters in
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