New X-ray Laser to Reveal Chemical Reactions at Atomic Level

World's Most Powerful X-ray Laser Fires Up in California

The newly upgraded LCLS-II laser at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has produced its first X-ray beams. Operating at full capacity, the laser will generate one million pulses per second, allowing scientists to essentially "film" ultrafast processes like chemical reactions. By capturing atomic motions during photosynthesis and other reactions, researchers hope to gain new insights that could lead to breakthroughs in clean energy and next-gen computing.

After over a decade of development, the $1.1 billion upgrade to the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is now operational. Dubbed LCLS-II, the instrument's repetition rate has increased 8,000-fold and its brightness 10,000-fold on average. This massive boost in performance will allow researchers to capture ultra-high resolution molecular movies, revealing chemical and biological processes in unprecedented detail. The laser's ability to illuminate previously invisible molecular events promises new insights across chemistry, biology, and materials science.

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