SLAC Today logo

LCLS Drive Laser Achieves First Light

(Image - Drive Laser Installation Team) A fundamental component of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) has seen its first ray of light. The injector drive laser—which will create the initial beam for the LCLS—arrived from France late last week. Crews spent all day Monday unloading the shipment's 10 crates.

"It's been a long time getting here, so it feels good," says LCLS Laser Group Leader Bill White. "We already got one of the pump lasers running Tuesday night, and we'll get the other two running soon."

The drive laser system is composed of many smaller lasers working together. When focused on the injector gun's cathode, they will create the supply of electrons that will generate x-rays at a later stage in the beam.

People from all over SLAC helped prepare for the drive laser's arrival, including employees from Conventional and Experimental Facilities, Environment Safety and Health and LCLS. "In the last two weeks there must have been 150 people through here," says White.

Beyond the usual unloading and assembling hassle—"it turned out the parts we needed first were, of course, at the back of the room"—White says the installation has gone smoothly.

The next task will be to commission the system, a process that includes testing and fine-tuning the parts to make sure they meet specifications. Although sections of the drive laser have been switched on for testing, it is not yet operational.

According to White, it will take a few weeks to get the entire injector drive laser system up and running, and a few weeks more to set up diagnostics to test whether it meets specifications.

"There's never been a laser whose pulse takes this shape in space and time," he says. "We need to make sure the beam is just how we want it."

—Krista Zala
    SLAC Today, July 27, 2006

Above image: The drive laser installation team, from left to right: Bill White, Darren Marsh, Hamid Shoaee, John Galayda, John Arthur, Eric Bong and Mark Reichanadter. (Click on image for larger version.)