Menu
A look at the world's most powerful X-ray laser

A look at the world's most powerful X-ray laser

Research at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source is used to develop future data storage systems and electronics

The LCLS Transport Hall at SLAC. The X-ray laser beam travels through the pipe.

The LCLS Transport Hall at SLAC. The X-ray laser beam travels through the pipe.

Just down the street from a cluster of venture capital firms on Silicon Valley's Sand Hill Road is the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, a sprawling, 426-acre site where researchers are pushing the boundaries in physics, chemistry and materials science.

Their work helps fuel breakthroughs in areas including electronics and information technology, and researchers there have contributed to projects that won six Nobel Prizes.

Twenty-five feet underground lies a 2-mile linear accelerator that passes beneath nearby Interstate 280. Electrons zip through the accelerator at nearly 670 million miles per hour, a fraction slower than the speed of light.

[Check out our video to see where the cutting-edge experiments are done.]

As microprocessors get faster and memory chips cram in more data, scientists are getting closer to the very boundaries of physics. That makes it essential to peer deep inside materials to see how they work at the atomic level.

Central to the work at SLAC is the world's most powerful X-ray laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source. It's the first laser to produce hard X-rays that allow scientists to see down to the level of atoms and molecules.

"There's no other place in the world where you can find short, coherent, X-ray pulses like the ones here, and that enable [scientists] to really rip apart atoms -- sometimes literally -- and look at how electrons are behaving in those atoms," said Bill Schlotter, an instrument scientist at the LCLS.

For researchers, getting the opportunity to conduct an experiment at SLAC is a competitive process. An international committee of scientists reviews proposals from around the world, and twice a year it selects only one in every five projects.

Stanford professor Aaron Lindenberg, who is researching future data storage systems, was among those selected, and given 60 hours to conduct an experiment at SLAC. Lindenberg used the high-powered X-ray to observe the way atoms move in a nanoscale device.

The results are still being processed, but Lindenberg said early data suggests the experiment was a success.

"After I emerged from underground here, it was sort of an interesting thing to look back and think, wow, we started this four or five years ago, trying to answer these questions, and actually, maybe now we have answers to some of them," he said.


Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags popular scienceconsumer electronicsSLAC National Accelerator LaboratoryComponents

Featured

Slideshows

Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours

Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours

The channel came together for another round of After Hours, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and partners descending on The Jefferson in Auckland. Photos by Maria Stefina.​

Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours
Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland

Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland

Emerging start-up Consegna has officially launched its cloud offerings in the New Zealand market, through a kick-off event held at Seafarers Building in Auckland.​ Founded in June 2016, the Auckland-based business is backed by AWS and supported by a global team of cloud specialists, leveraging global managed services partnerships with Rackspace locally.

Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland
Veritas honours top performing trans-Tasman partners

Veritas honours top performing trans-Tasman partners

Veritas honoured its top performing partners across the channel in Australia and New Zealand, recognising innovation and excellence on both sides of the Tasman. Revealed under the Vivid lights in Sydney, Intalock claimed the coveted Partner of the Year 2017 (Pacific) award, with Data#3 acknowledged for 12 months of strong growth across the market. Meanwhile, Datacom took home the New Zealand honours, with Global Storage and Insentra winning service provider and consulting awards respectively. Dicker Data was recognised as the standout distributor of the year, while Hitachi Data Systems claimed the alliance partner award. Photos by Bob Seary.

Veritas honours top performing trans-Tasman partners
Show Comments