June 23, 2010
Early Results From The World’s Brightest X-ray Source
SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source probes nitrogen molecules
The SLAC linear collider in Menlo Park, California has already made a name for itself as one of the world's largest and most prolific particle accelerator facilities dedicated to high energy particle physics. It is now beginning a new life as a source of x-rays a billion times brighter than any other research x-ray source to date. Early results that reveal how molecules respond to intense radiation from the facility's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) are set to be published this week in the journal Physical Review Letters.
In some of the first published results to emerge from the LCLS, the researchers report that nitrogen molecules absorb less x-ray radiation when illuminated with shorter flashes compared to longer ones. In addition to helping develop a model for x-ray absorption in molecules, the results show that the LCLS will likely be able to provide snapshots of never-before-seen, ultra-fast chemical and molecular processes, including those involving the biomolecules that are critical components in living cells.
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