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An Office of Science User Facility


With X-ray pulses a billion times brighter than predecessor X-ray sources that last for just femtoseconds, or million-billionths of a second, LCLS can measure the properties ultrafast processes at the scale of atoms and molecules.
This provides a new avenue for exploration in many fields, allowing scientists to:
  • Map the structure of drug compounds docked with important receptor proteins using crystallized samples too small for study at other X-ray sources – a key step toward drug development.
  • Study living bacteria, viruses, cell components, proteins, and other active biological samples in very natural conditions.
  • Study molecular motion in response to light and other chemical triggers, and compile "movies" of these changes. This could help unlock the secrets of photosynthesis, for example, which could help scientists design artificial systems to replicate the process and produce new sources of clean, renewable fuel.
  • Explore the earliest steps in active chemical reactions at the atomic scale, which could help inform scientists how to better control reactions and make them more efficient.
  • Study the structure and other properties of the microscopic components in air pollution as they float through the air.
  • Directly view and precisely measure how materials respond to extreme temperatures and pressures, which could aid in designing new, hybrid materials and lead to a better understanding of processes at work in nuclear fusion – a possible future energy source.
  • Study ultrafast magnetic and electronic behavior in materials – down to the spin of electrons in a material – that could lead to next-generation computer components.

SLAC SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Menlo Park, CA
Operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Dept. of Energy