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Dorfan Today: First Electrons from the LCLS

Last week SLAC and LCLS collaborators took a major step toward making the world's first hard x-ray free electron laser a reality. After nearly a year of intensive preparations, the LCLS injector system generated its first pulse of electrons, marking the official beginning of commissioning for the LCLS. The photograph in the main article of today's edition of SLAC Today, taken last Thursday night, shows the sustained electron beam. This is a genuinely remarkable moment for the lab. On behalf of all of SLAC I offer my warmest congratulations to the LCLS organization and the various SLAC teams upon which LCLS has depended in achieving this milestone, including those who developed the RF gun, the drive laser, the accelerator injector system, and to all who have worked so hard to make this achievement possible.

On a technical level, getting first electrons was no small feat. Ribbon cutting for the injector vault and drive laser facility at Sector 20 took place in May of 2006. Installation and commissioning of the drive laser and accompanying vacuum and control systems, began last July, and fabrication and testing of the RF gun used to create the pulse of electrons has taken nearly four years. Meeting these challenges required the cooperation of departments all over the lab—including the controls department, klystron department, accelerator group, power conversion department, mechanical fabrication department and metrology.

Getting the hardware into place is only part of the story. Before a new accelerator or major upgrade is ready for commissioning, many engineering and administrative controls and safety checks are required. The accelerator readiness review for the LCLS injector system began in earnest last November, and the final authorizing signatures arrived on my desk just a few days ago. I offer my sincere thanks to Hanley Lee and the DOE site office at SLAC as well as all of the scientists who participated in making this process as thorough and efficient as possible.

In celebration of this milestone I encourage everyone to join us this Friday afternoon for ice cream—served in part by several of the Directors—music and activities on the central lawn. The LCLS Ice Cream social will be the ideal opportunity to congratulate your colleagues for an amazing accomplishment and to celebrate the lab moving into a new era.

This is just the beginning of a six-month continuous run to test the first 40 meters of the LCLS. With the gathering momentum of tunneling and construction underway in parallel for the LCLS conventional facilities, I am certain the coming months will bring more good news of remarkable progress. Once again, warm congratulations to everyone who helped make this possible.

—Jonathan Dorfan, April 9, 2007