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Press Release: German and U.S. laboratories to collaborate on the development of X-ray free electron lasers

Date Issued: November 04, 2002


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At the MoU signing ceremony. Front row, left to right: Albrecht Wagner, Chairman of the DESY board of Directors; Jonathan Dorfan, SLAC Director; Jochen Schneider, DESY Research Director. Back row, left to right: Jerry Hastings, Project Manager of the SPPS Experiment; John Galayda, Director of LCLS project; Keith Hodgson, Director of SSRL.

Washington D.C -- The Deutsches-Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY), Germany's leading particle physics and synchrotron radiation laboratory, and the U.S. Department of Energy's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), have signed a laboratory-to-laboratory Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a unique international collaboration for the development of X-ray free-electron lasers. These facilities will be a giant leap forward in synchrotron radiation research, generating X-ray pulses ten billion times brighter and a thousandfold shorter in duration than existing sources. These ultra-brilliant beams will explore previously inaccessible realms of dynamics in the chemical, biological and materials sciences as well as in nanoscale phenomenology, and atomic and plasma physics.

"These machines can be used to observe atoms in the process of forming or breaking bonds in molecules – in effect, freeze-frame photography of molecular formation." said John Galayda, head of the SLAC X-ray free-electron laser project.

Dr. Raymond Orbach, Director of the Department of Energy's Office of Science, welcomed representatives from the two laboratories. Dr. Hermann Schunk, Director-General of Basic Research, Transport and Aerospace Research commented on the importance of the collaboration for Germany's Federal Ministry of Education and Science. Professor Albrecht Wagner, Chairman of the DESY Board of Directors, Professor Dr. Jochen R. Schneider, DESY Research Director and TESLA-XFEL Project Leader and Professor Jonathan Dorfan, Director of SLAC signed the MoU.

DESY and SLAC are world-leading laboratories in the development and operation of electron accelerators for research in high-energy physics and in the many fields of science that make use of synchrotron radiation. Both institutions are committed to explore the extraordinary scientific capabilities that X-ray free-electron lasers will offer and are advanced in the planning for two facilities - the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at SLAC and the TESLA X-ray Free Electron Laser (TESLA-XFEL) at DESY. The LCLS project engineering and design has been authorized and the facility is scheduled to become operational in 2008. The TESLA-XFEL is expected to be operational in 2011.

The agreement sets the framework for practical collaboration between DESY and SLAC on the many technical challenges to be faced in fully exploiting the capabilities of X-ray free-electron lasers. This collaboration will be based on exchange of personnel and equipment and open interchange of research results, know-how and data.

"I am delighted by this collaboration," said Albrecht Wagner. "Both projects will be enriched and accelerated by the first class personnel and accumulated expertise at both laboratories."

Both DESY and SLAC are already working on short wavelength linac-driven light sources that provide a preview of the extraordinary capabilities of LCLS and TESLA-XFEL. The TESLA Test Facility (TTF) at DESY is the shortest-wavelength free-electron laser in the world and the Sub-Picosecond Pulse Source (SPPS) being developed at SLAC will match its performance. The TTF and SPPS offer a combination of peak brightness and short pulse duration far beyond any other sources in the world today. The agreement between DESY and SLAC gives a green light for immediate collaboration on research at TTF and SPPS. This initial work will provide valuable preliminary information and solutions to the technical challenges of the future LCLS and TESLA-XFEL.

"We are all excited by the colossal discovery potential of X-ray free-electron lasers." said Jonathan Dorfan. "International collaboration is the most efficient, responsible and cost effective way of building world-class science facilities. There is already dynamic collaboration between SLAC, DESY and the KEK laboratory in Japan on research and development for a future high-energy physics linear collider. Today's agreement establishes stronger bonds between international centers of excellence."

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