FREE-ELECTRON LASERS

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We can now produce intense, coherent light at wavelengths where no conventional lasers exist. The recent successes of devices known as free-electron lasers mark a striking confluence of two conceptual developments that themselves are only a few decades old. The first of these, the laser, is a product of the fifties and sixties whose essential characteristics have made it a staple resource in almost every field of science and technology. In a practical sense, what defines a laser is its emission of monochromatic, coherent light (that is, light of a single wavelength, with its waves locked in step) at a ... continued below

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41 p.

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Sessler, A.M. & Vaughan, D. April 1, 1986.

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Description

We can now produce intense, coherent light at wavelengths where no conventional lasers exist. The recent successes of devices known as free-electron lasers mark a striking confluence of two conceptual developments that themselves are only a few decades old. The first of these, the laser, is a product of the fifties and sixties whose essential characteristics have made it a staple resource in almost every field of science and technology. In a practical sense, what defines a laser is its emission of monochromatic, coherent light (that is, light of a single wavelength, with its waves locked in step) at a wavelength in the infrared, visible, or ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum. A second kind of light, called synchrotron radiation, is a by-product of the age of particle accelerators and was first observed in the laboratory in 1947. As the energies of accelerators grew in the 1960s and 70s, intense, incoherent beams of ultraviolet radiation and x--rays became available at machines built for high-energy physics research. Today, several facilities operate solely as sources of synchrotron light. Unlike the well-collimated monochromatic light emitted by lasers, however, this incoherent radiation is like a sweeping searchlight--more accurately, like the headlight of a train on a circular track--whose wavelengths encompass a wide spectral band. Now, in several laboratories around the world, researchers have exploited the physics of these two light sources and have combined the virtues of both in a single contrivance, the free-electron laser, or FEL (1). The emitted light is laserlike in its narrow, sharply peaked spectral distribution and in its phase coherence, yet it can be of a wavelength unavailable with ordinary lasers. Furthermore, like synchrotron radiation, but unlike the output of most conventional lasers, the radiation emitted by free-electron lasers can be tuned, that is, its wavelength can be easily varied across a wide range. The promise of this new technology extends from the fields of solid-state physics, gas- and liquid-phase photochemistry, and surface catalysis to futuristic schemes for ultrahigh-energy linear accelerators.

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41 p.

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  • Journal Name: American Scientist

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  • Report No.: LBL-21443
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 937116
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc902910

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • April 1, 1986

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Oct. 31, 2016, 11:55 a.m.

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Sessler, A.M. & Vaughan, D. FREE-ELECTRON LASERS, article, April 1, 1986; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc902910/: accessed April 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.