Stanford University is known for having some of the most advanced technology within its laboratories and research units. One of the laboratories within the University that is incredibly well renowned is the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The lab is home to one of the first x-ray free electron lasers that the world has ever seen. However, this too is currently going to go through a major upgrade since it will be soon replaced by one of the first cryomodule lasers that any lab has used. This introduction was brilliant for the lab and has made it more well known than it previously was.
X-ray Free-electron lasers are particularly well known because of the unique properties that the laser has. It isn’t like the conventional lasers that are currently being used in the industry. Usually, lasers use a certain kind of light which work at a particular frequency. This light is visible to the naked eye and can be altered to produce a laser of a particular frequency. The light tends to be more prominent or less prominent depending on the setting that it is set to be used at. However, the X-ray Free electron lasers work in a much different way as compared to traditional lasers. These work similar to the way x-rays work, which means that the light that is emitted by them is not visible to the naked eye. It is similar to the kind of x-ray machines that hospitals use to get images of bones. However, these X-ray Free-electron lasers are much more potent than traditional x-rays that are used on people.
The X-ray Free-electron lasers are incredibly big and stretch out over three miles. Within the X-ray Free electron laser, there are also going to be several long cryomodules which support the functioning and working of the X-ray Free electron laser. These special chambers are special parts of the particle accelerator which is operational at -456 degrees Fahrenheit for maximum efficiency. Maintaining the cooling within these chambers can sometimes be challenging considering the exact temperatures that need to be supported. To properly maintain the temperatures of the chambers, the X-ray Free electron laser will need to use liquid helium, which would then be able to provide the inner chambers with a temperature that is similar to that which is experienced when one leaves the earth’s atmosphere. The reason the chambers need to be kept at such a low temperature is because only after it passes a certain temperature range do the particles turn into superconductors. This makes it better and faster, allowing the particles within the accelerator to move at a faster pace, thereby allowing researchers to be able to study the electron’s more carefully and in a better environment.
The X-ray Free electron laser is being funded by the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, which will be each providing half of the cryomodules that are needed for the superconductor to function well. The laser has already reached the laboratory and is set to start operating soon.
Article Source: Forbes.com
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