The Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy has successfully produced its first X-ray beams after undergoing an upgrade known as LCLS-II. This enhancement creates unprecedented capabilities and will mark the beginning of a new era in X-ray research. Scientists from around the world are already prepared to embark on a comprehensive science program using these new capabilities.

The LCLS-II upgrade will enable scientists to examine quantum materials with unprecedented resolution, opening possibilities for advancements in computing and communications. It will also allow the study of unpredictable chemical events and guide the development of more sustainable industries and clean energy technologies. Additionally, researchers will be able to investigate how biological molecules function and develop new pharmaceutical products.

The enhanced facility will also unlock the ability to study the world at the fastest timescales, leading to new fields of scientific research.

Achieving this milestone is the result of over a decade of work and a collaboration involving thousands of scientists, engineers, and technicians from the Department of Energy (DOE) and institutional partners. The improvement project began in 2010 with the vision of enhancing the original LCLS facility.

XFELs produce extremely bright and ultra-short X-ray light pulses, allowing researchers to study molecules, atoms, and electrons with unprecedented detail. This technology has led to significant scientific achievements, such as the creation of the first “molecular movie” and the investigation of processes like photosynthesis.

The LCLS-II upgrade takes X-ray science to a new level by increasing the number of X-ray pulses produced by a factor of 8,000 compared to the original LCLS. It will also generate an almost continuous X-ray beam that is on average 10,000 times brighter than its predecessor. These improvements make LCLS-II the world’s most powerful X-ray light source.

The success of the LCLS-II upgrade is the result of a collaborative effort involving multiple institutions, including five U.S. national laboratories and a university. This achievement highlights the national and international importance of the project and its contributions to advancing scientific understanding.

– SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy.