Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Highest X-ray energy used to probe materials

Scientists for the first time have dived into the effect that an intense X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) has on materials.

Using the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) facility at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore scientists probed nitrogen gas at X-ray energies of up to 8 keV (kiloelectronvolts), the highest X-ray energy ever used at an XFEL, to see how it behaved when the laser hit it.

The photoluminescence-based pulse-energy detector allowed the team to study the interaction - including electron dynamics and space charge effects - between nitrogen gas and the XFEL beam. Understanding the precise dynamics at work on these scales will forever change the understanding of chemistry, physics and materials science.

The XFEL's light is so bright at 8 kilo electron volts and so fast (it has a pulse length from 10 femtoseconds to 100 femtoseconds) that LLNL scientists were able to validate the physics of simulations done using nitrogen gas. (One femtosecond is one quadrillionth of a second).

"The detailed physics is very important for most LCLS experiments since it determines the interpretation of the results," said Lab scientist Stefan Hau-Riege. "The unique thing about this experiment is that it was performed upstream from the LCLS mirrors, and so we had access to the full range of LCLS X-ray energies (which went up to 8 keV at the time)."

The heart of the LCLS is a free-electron laser that produces beams of coherent, high-energy X-rays. Coherence - the phenomenon of all photons in a beam acting together in perfect lockstep - makes laser light far brighter than ordinary light. Since X-ray photons at the LCLS are coherent, the resulting beam of light will be as much as a billion times brighter than any other X-ray light source available today.

The LCLS also contains a femto-camera that can sequence together images of the ultra small, taken with the ultrafast pulses of the LCLS. Scientists are for the first time creating molecular movies, revealing the frenetic action of the atomic world.

The LCLS, and its cousins planned in Germany and Japan, improves on third-generation light sources. The third-generation sources are circular, stadium-size synchrotrons, and they produce streams of incoherent X-ray photons. Since their pulses are long compared to the motion of electrons around an atom, synchrotron light sources cannot begin to explore the dynamic motion of molecules.

The pulses of light from the fourth-generation LCLS are so short, lasting for just quadrillionths of a second, that its beam provides an X-ray strobe light to capture such atomic and molecular behavior.

Other Livermore researchers include Richard Bionta, Dmitri Ryutov, Richard London, Elden Ables, Keith Kishiyama, Stewart Shen, Mark McKernan and Donn McMahon. Collaborators included the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science, DESY, in Hamburg.

The research will appear in the July 27 online edition of Physical Review Letters.

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory ( is a national security laboratory that develops science and engineering technology and provides innovative solutions to our nation's most important challenges. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

Laboratory news releases and photos are also available at

Anne Stark | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: LCLS Security Forum X-ray microscopy X-ray photons XFEL light source nitrogen gas

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Oasis of life in the ice-covered central Arctic

24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

‘Farming’ bacteria to boost growth in the oceans

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>