has announced a $2.4 million grant from the to develop free-electron lasers that could serve as powerful, affordable sources of X-rays.
The grant will enable the lab to conduct experiments that could lead to portable, high-contrast X-ray imaging that can be used to observe chemical reactions, visualize the flow of electrons, or watch biological processes unfold. Currently, X-ray light sources hold great scientific promise, but there are only a handful of such sources worldwide — each is miles long and costs hundreds of millions of dollars to develop. What’s more, access to these facilities is limited, resulting in a growing backlog of scientific experiments.
Research will be led by Wim Leemans, director of the at Berkeley Lab. "We are now in the position that we know enough that we want to push for this next big challenge: can we build small accelerators and produce radiation that is typically produced by larger accelerators? We want to develop these accelerators in such a way that accessing the light produced by these beams is much less expensive and can be performed in much smaller settings."
"State-of-the-art X-ray sources offer an unprecedented opportunity to probe the microscopic world, but access to these sources is extremely limited," said Ernie Glover, science program officer at the Moore Foundation. "If successful, this project will demonstrate a path to significantly reduce the size and cost of these sources and greatly expand their scientific impact."