First step towards a Soft X-ray Laser at MAX IV Laboratory

Stockholm University, Uppsala University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Lund University and MAX IV Laboratory have initiated a project to write a Conceptual Design Report (CDR) for a Soft X-ray Laser at MAX IV. This project has now received 10 million SEK from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. The remaining 17 million SEK needed to complete the CDR will be funded by the project partners.

The SXL was sprung out of an initiative from Swedish users of synchrotron radiation, who together formulated a large set of scientific questions which only can be addressed by the high power coherent X-rays that a source like SXL can provide. The Conceptual Design Report will include detailed theoretical studies of the linac at MAX IV as driver for the Soft X-ray Laser (SXL), analysis of possible improvements to the linac, choices of technology for the undulator section and standard configurations of the beamline and its end-stations. The report will be ready in 2020 and then form a basis for deciding whether to build the SXL.

– The benefits of an SXL at MAX IV would be huge and could lead to ground breaking results in many different fields, says Anders Nilsson, professor in Chemical Physics at Stockholm University. Water being not only the most important liquid on our planet but in particular extremely strange in its properties and we could finally be able to solve the origin of its mysteries.

The baseline design of the SXL will deliver coherent, ultrashort, soft X-ray pulses with full polarization control in the range 1-5 nm (0.2-1 keV). The system is building on the MAX IV linac, already today providing 100 fs 3 GeV electron pulses. Scientifically and technically the SXL will complement the existing FemtoMAX beamline which covers higher photon energies in intense, short, partially coherent pulses. The SXL will generate new opportunities in Atomic and Molecular Science, Condensed Matter Physics and Life Science. A broad range of pump sources for pump-probe experiments will be available together with pulse lengths down to 10 fs foreseen in the first phase and as short as 1 fs being envisaged in a second phase.

Stefano Bonetti at Stockholm University, principal investigator for an ERC Starting Grant project called “Understanding the speed limits of magnetism”, also has high hopes for the future: – A SXL at MAX IV will open up for exciting cutting-edge experiments in the broad field of ultrafast science, which could potentially lead to fundamental discoveries. The proximity of SXL to the Lund Laser Center, will also pave the way for experiments combining “light” in its broadest sense: from very long wavelengths to very short ones, a unique flexibility that allows to tackle an enormous range of experiments.

– This is a very exciting project as the MAX IV accelerators were built with this in mind, and now we really get the opportunity to investigate a radiation source with extreme capabilities, says Sverker Werin, professor in Accelerator Physics at Lund University.

Further information on the science case of SXL can be found here.