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Vol. 2, No. 2

Previous editions

Contents of this Issue

  1. Director's Column: As LCLS Moves Forward, We Need Your Input
  2. SLAC Press Release: World’s Most Powerful X-ray Laser Creates 2-Million-Degree Matter
  3. SLAC Press Release: Scientists Create First Atomic X-ray Laser
  4. DESY Press Release: Fastest X-ray Images of Tiny Biological Crystals
  5. UEC: LCLS Users' Executive Committee Welcomes New Vice Chair, Encourages Input
  6. Announcements: Users' Conference Dates Set, NUFO to Host D.C. Exhibit, USA Science and Engineering Festival
  7. Publications: LCLS Publications Listing
  8. LCLS in the News: Warm Dense Matter, Atomic Laser, Magnetism, Electrons



1. Director's Column: As LCLS Moves Forward, We Need Your Input

In my two and a half years as LCLS Director, I've learned there is no real downtime at the Linac Coherent Light Source. Starting with the nearly instantaneous first turn-on of the machine in 2009, we have seen a steady influx of scientific instruments and improved beam parameters. On Sunday, January 29, the LCLS beam entered the sixth instrument hutch, Matter in Extreme Conditions (MEC), located at the end of LCLS's Far Experimental Hall. This event begins a period of more or less steady-state operations at LCLS—until of course the second phase, LCLS-II, is ready.

Backed with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, MEC was part of the original LCLS scientific roadmap crafted in 2000 and its original team leader, Dick Lee, now manages LCLS's Science, Research and Development Division. With its high-energy laser system, large vacuum target chamber and suite of dedicated diagnostics, the MEC instrument will allow researchers to create and probe matter at extreme temperatures, extreme pressures and extreme densities to study short-lived states that can exist during inertial fusion processes, in the cores of giant planets and inside supernovae. Throughout the remainder of Run 5, which began in November and goes through May, MEC instrument scientists Hae Ja Lee and Bob Nagler will lead commissioning to fine-tune the instrument and ensure it is ready for the first experiment in April.

This is not only a historic moment for MEC, but also for LCLS—January 29 marked the first time that all six instrument hutches had taken beam. But, as I mentioned in my last column, we're not going to stop there.

Plans for LCLS-II are coming along extremely well and the project is scheduled for Department of Energy baseline review (CD-2) later this year. When complete, LCLS-II will provide two new, independent X-ray beams—one for soft and one for hard X-ray science. It will use the second third of the linac, sectors 10 through 20, to produce two new X-ray beams for the new experimental hall, while we continue to use linac sectors 20 through 30 to produce X-rays for the existing halls.

With LCLS-II's new capacity and capability comes the need for new instrumentation. To this end, I would like to reiterate my invitation for you to join us for the LCLS-II New Instrument Workshops, March 19-22. These important workshops will define the scientific needs and instrumentation priorities for LCLS-II. As the LCLS user community's participation in this workshop is vital, the workshop organizers and I welcome all attendees to present a single viewgraph describing a scientific opportunity and the instrumentation tools needed to accomplish it. Don’t be afraid to think big and out of the box because we have witnessed astounding increases in LCLS capabilities and envision to have well-controlled pulses with unprecedented intensities by the time LCLS-II is finished. These contributed presentations should be sent to Phil Heimann and Jerry Hastings by Thursday, March 15. Besides contributed and invited presentations there will be ample discussion time. Please visit the LCLS-II New Instruments Workshop website for more information and to register for the event.

Finally, as you may have already heard through less formal means, our initial tests of self-seeding the LCLS beam were successful. Although this capability is not yet available for users, we will continue to develop it and will update you just as soon as there is more to report.

As you can tell, the there is never a dull moment at LCLS. I look forward to continuing to explore the unknown together.

- Joachim Stöhr

2. SLAC Press Release: World’s Most Powerful X-ray Laser Creates 2-Million-Degree Matter

Researchers working at the Linac Coherent Light Source have used the world’s most powerful X-ray laser to create and probe a 2-million-degree piece of matter in a controlled way for the first time. This feat, reported in Nature, takes scientists a significant step forward in understanding the most extreme matter found in the hearts of stars and giant planets, and could help experiments aimed at recreating the nuclear fusion process that powers the sun. The experiments flash-heated a tiny piece of aluminum foil, creating what is known as "hot dense matter," and took the temperature of this solid plasma—about 2 million degrees Celsius. The whole process took less than a trillionth of a second.  Read full release…

3. SLAC Press Release: Scientists Create First Atomic X-ray Laser

Scientists working at the Linac Coherent Light Source have created the shortest, purest X-ray laser pulses ever achieved, fulfilling a 45-year-old prediction and opening the door to a new range of scientific discovery. The researchers, reporting in Nature, aimed the LCLS beam at a capsule of neon gas, setting off an avalanche of X-ray emissions to create the world’s first "atomic X-ray laser."  "We envision researchers using this new type of laser for all sorts of interesting things, such as teasing out the details of chemical reactions or watching biological molecules at work," said physicist Nina Rohringer, who led the research. A group leader at the Max Planck Society’s Advanced Study Group in Hamburg, Germany, Rohringer collaborated with researchers from SLAC, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Colorado State University. Read full release…

4. DESY Press Release: Fastest X-ray Images of Tiny Biological Crystals

An international research team headed by DESY scientists from the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, Germany, has recorded the shortest X-ray exposure of a protein crystal ever achieved. The incredible brief exposure time of 30 femtoseconds (0.000 000 000 000 03 seconds) opens up new possibilities for imaging molecular processes with X-rays. With the Linac Coherent Light Source, the research team fired the most intense X-ray beam at a protein crystal to date: The tiny crystal was bombarded with 100,000 trillion watts per square centimeter—sunlight for comparison comes in at a mere 0.1 watts per square centimeter on average.  Read full release...

5. UEC: LCLS Users' Executive Committee Welcomes New Vice Chair, Encourages Input
(Contact: Martin Meedom Nielsen,

The LCLS Users' Organization Executive Committee is pleased to announce that Jan Luning of the University Pierre et Marie Curie has been elected as the new UEC Vice Chair. We extend a warm welcome to Jan for his willingness to represent the interests of the respective user community in this capacity.

The committee also encourages users to contact the UEC with any issues they may have or any suggestions on how the UEC can improve two-way communication with users. Input from the user community is essential to ensure the effective working of the UEC. Please send your input to

6. Announcements: Run 6 Schedule Posted, Users' Conference Dates Set, NUFO to Host D.C. Exhibit, USA Science and Engineering Festival

Run 6 Schedule Posted
The schedule of approved experiments for LCLS Run 6, which will begin May 31 and end December 19, has now been posted to the LCLS schedules webpage.

Save the Date: LCLS/SSRL Users' Conference, October 3-6
In response to user feedback, this year’s Users’ Meeting will include joint SSRL/LCLS parallel science sessions and many opportunities for students to present their work. The organizers encourage your suggestions for workshop topics and speakers who would draw in the larger photon science community to explore new opportunities for the LCLS and SSRL. Tell us what would make this meeting a great one by e-mailing Cathy Knotts. In addition, we encourage (and will reserve slots) for 10'+5' student talks. Start planning your talk today. Registration will be open soon. In the meantime, we look forward to working with you to organize an outstanding users' conference, October 3-6, 2012.

NUFO to Host Exhibit in D.C., March 28-29
The National User Facility Organization (NUFO) has again been invited to showcase user facility science at an outreach event on Capitol Hill. This event will highlight the significant and important role that scientific user facilities play in science education, economic competitiveness, fundamental knowledge and scientific achievements. We invite all interested parties to join us on March 28 at the Dirksen Senate Office Building (room SD-G50) and on March 29 in the Cannon Caucus Room in the Cannon House Building. Learn more…

USA Science and Engineering Festival, April 28-29
Join us in Washington DC for the 2nd USA Science & Engineering Festival. This year's event will feature over 2000 fun, interactive exhibits and 100 stage shows. Learn more… 

7. Publications LCLS Publications Listing

What follows is a list of papers published since the last LCLS newsletter.  For the full publications list, see the LCLS publications webpage.

R. Koopmann et al. "In Vivo Protein Crystallization Opens New Routes in Structural Biology" Nature Methods (2012) 

N. Rohringer et al. "Atomic Inner-Shell X-ray Laser at 1.46 Nanometres Pumped by an X-ray Free-Electron Laser" Nature 481, 488–491 (2012)

S. M. Vinko et al. "Creation and Diagnosis of a Solid-Density Plasma with an X-ray Free-Electron Laser" Nature (2012)

A. Aquila et al. "Time-resolved Protein Nanocrystallography Using an X-ray Free-electron Laser" Optics Express 20, 2706-2716 (2012)

S. L. Johnson et al. "Femtosecond Dynamics of the Collinear-to-Spiral Antiferromagnetic Phase Transition in CuO" Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 037203 (2012)

C. Gutt et al. "Single Shot Spatial and Temporal Coherence Properties of the SLAC Linac Coherent Light Source in the Hard X-Ray Regime" Phys. Rev. Lett. 108, 024801 (2012)

A. Barty et al. "Self-terminating Diffraction Gates Femtosecond X-ray Nanocrystallography Measurements" Nature Photonics 6, 35-40 (2012)

L. Lomb et al. "Radiation Damage in Protein Serial Femtosecond Crystallography using an X-ray Free-electron Laser" Phys. Rev. B 84, 214111 (2011)

Don't see your publication here or on the LCLS publications webpage? Please submit it using our Publication Submission Form.

8. LCLS in the News: Warm Dense Matter, Atomic Laser, Magnetism, Electrons

Hottest Thing on Earth: X-Rays Heat Metal to 3.6 Million Degrees
National Geographic
January 27, 2012

X-Ray Laser Turns Up the Heat to 3.6 Million Degrees
January 25, 2012

Laser Scientists Create World's Most Powerful and Precise X-Ray Lasers
Huffington Post
January 25, 2012

Laser Science: Even Harder X-rays
Nature News and Views
January 25, 2012

World's Most Powerful X-Ray Laser Super-Heats Aluminum Foil to 3.6 Million Degrees
Popular Science
January 25, 2012

X-ray Laser Fires Most Powerful Beams Ever
Discovery News
January 25, 2012

XFELs Emerge
SPIE Professional
January 2012

Shaken, Not Heated: The Ideal Recipe for Manipulating Magnetism
SLAC Today
January 31, 2012

Controlling the Inner Electron Dance
SLAC Today
January 9, 2012

See a full list of LCLS news clippings on the LCLS in the News webpage.


The Linac Coherent Light Source is a Department of Energy Office of Science-funded facility located at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. LCLS is the world’s first hard X-ray free-electron laser, allowing researchers to see atomic-scale detail on ultrafast timescales. The LCLS enables groundbreaking research in physics, chemistry, structural biology, energy science and many other diverse fields.

To join the LCLS Newsletter e-mail distribution list, please simply send an e-mail to

Last Updated: 10 February 2012
Content Owner: K. Tuttle
Page Editor: K. Tuttle

SLAC SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Menlo Park, CA
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