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SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Unveils World’s Most Powerful X-ray Laser

MENLO PARK, Calif. (KGO) — A new era of science is dawning right here in the Bay Area thanks to the world’s most powerful X-ray laser. The brilliant minds working at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park have finally revealed it.

“It really is a discovery machine,” said Matthias Kling, scientist and R.&D, director of LCLS, “We can examine unknown processes, which we have not yet discovered.”

This “discovery machine” called LCLS-II has been in development for more than a decade.

It relies on the original LCLS or linac coherent light sources, a non-X-ray electron laser.

“Imagine LCLS is a giant microscope and now with LCLS-II we have about 10,000 times more light, basically for looking at things,” Kling said. “So it allows you to see things that we’ve never seen before.”

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Those behind the project say it will transform scientists’ ability to explore ultra-fast phenomena at the atomic scale.

Through these explorations, enormous progress can be made in areas such as clean energy technologies and medicine.

In 2009, the original LCLS machine made the United States a leader in this type of technology.

“It was such a revolutionary machine that six machines around the world immediately began construction,” said project director Greg Hayes.

Hayes adds that the United States is not left behind.

“(Construction) started in 2013,” Hayes said, “and last week we just hit our final milestone on the project.”

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The US Department of Energy invested more than a billion dollars and five other laboratories collaborated on its creation.

The buzz around the machine is bringing together some of the brightest minds from around the world to take advantage of this incredible technology.

“We are bringing together the international community and its global efforts to advance science,” Kling said.

The unveiling of the LCLS-II is just the beginning.

“There’s still a lot of work to do to make this work really well and squeeze every little piece out of a machine possible,” said Axel Brachman, technical director of LCLS-II.

The first researchers will begin using LCLS-II for projects in the coming months.

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