The role of EBIT in X-ray laser research Page: 4 of 17
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Abstract. Back in the early 1980's the X-ray laser program required a new level of understanding
and measurements of the atomic physics of highly charged ions. The electron-beam ion trap
(EBIT) was developed and built at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) as part of
the effort to understand and measure the cross sections and wavelengths of highly charged ions.
In this paper we will discuss some of the early history of EBIT and how it was used to help in
the development of X-ray lasers. EBIT's capability was unique and we will show some of the
experimental results obtained over the years that were done related to X-ray lasers. As X-ray
lasers have now become a table-top tool we will show some new areas of research that involve
understanding the index of refraction in partially ionized plasmas and suggest new areas where
EBIT may be able to contribute.
In the early 1980's the X-ray laser became the topic of news articles because of a new
application that would eventually be the primary motivation for X-ray laser research in the
United States. Clarence Robinson wrote a 1981 Aviation Week article  that said that scientists
from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) had made a breakthrough in laser
technology by demonstrating a compact laser device pumped by X-rays from a small nuclear
At LLNL the early 1980's was an exciting time for the X-ray laser program. LLNL was
developing a large X-ray laser program to address the challenge presented by President Reagan to
develop a missile defense system, know as "Star Wars" or SDI. As part of this program [2-4]
LLNL succeeded in demonstrating the first X-ray laser in the early 1980's using a nuclear
explosion to drive the X-ray laser. Later in the decade the first laboratory X-ray laser using Ne-
like Se driven by the large Novette ICF laser was demonstrated at LLNL .
The Soviet Union also took a strong interest in X-ray lasers. In 1987 they successful
produced X-ray lasers driven by nuclear explosions that produced lasers with about 20 kJ of
output at 39 A and 100 kJ of output at a wavelength of 28 A. This is described in a 1997 article
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Nilsen, J. The role of EBIT in X-ray laser research, article, January 25, 2007; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc901888/m1/4/: accessed December 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.