Free Electron Laser (FEL) Program
Thomas Jefferson National Laboratory
1990’s – 2010
Result of NP research:
NP superconducting RF accelerator technology development
Application currently being supported by:
US Navy, US Air Force, US Army, Commonwealth of Virginia, AES, Inc.
Impact/benefit to spin-off field:
High average power (10kW IR, 1kW UV and 1 W VUV), tunable laser for applications R&D in wide range commercial and military uses. Spin-off examples: accelerator components; nano-material mfg.; anti-missile defense; test bed for high current, high precision, high power SRF accelerators and FELs; energy recovery linacs (ERLs).
Jefferson Lab's Free-Electron Laser (FEL) has shattered nearly every high-power laser record in the infrared and terahertz wavelength regimes of light. The FEL was designed to deliver 10 kilowatts of infrared laser light, a goal it surpassed in 2006 by producing 14 kilowatts. In 2010, it achieved 200 Watts of fundamental lasing in the ultraviolet and produced record-setting ultrahigh brightness in the 10 eV vacuum ultraviolet region via harmonic production. The FEL is based on the superconducting radiofrequency (SRF) technology developed for the nuclear physics program at Jefferson Lab. It generates intense beams of laser light that can be tuned to a precise wavelength and are more powerful than beams from a conventional laser. The FEL is being used to investigate new applications in materials science, photobiology, photochemistry and high sensitivity spectroscopy by researchers worldwide. In addition, the FEL serves as a test bed for SRF linear accelerator technologies, including new designs of SRF accelerator components, accelerator beam sources and energy-recovering linear accelerators. The advances in recovering the electron beam energy in the FEL has set the stage for proposals by research labs around the world for a new concept called an ERL (energy-recovering linear accelerator) fourth-generation light source to provide high-intensity, short pulses of X-rays and vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) photons for materials and biological research.
Above, the linear accelerator portion of the FEL