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From the Director: LCLS Scores a Hat Trick!

(Photo - Persis Drell)
(Photo by Harvey Lynch.)

I've used this title once before despite being sports metaphor challenged… and I've just been reminded that the World Cup starts today (soccer) and that this is a sports term used in hockey (and even I know that hockey is different from soccer). But I do know that it has been a spectacular week for Linac Coherent Light Source, and the success is threefold.

Monday, June 7, 3:05 p.m.: First light in Hutch 3! This is a big deal. The X-ray Pump Probe experiment in Hutch 3, which saw first light on Monday, will be the first hard X-ray experiment to operate at LCLS. To date the LCLS has been running experiments with "soft" X-rays of 10-15 Angstrom wavelength. XPP is the first experiment designed to operate with hard X-rays (down to 1.5 Angstrom wavelength). John Arthur had kept me posted on the schedule and I was able to get down to the Near Experimental Hall in time to witness the excitement as the hard X-rays entered the hutch for the first time. It went like clockwork—very impressive! David Fritz, the instrument scientist for XPP, was impressively cool and collected, focused on the measurements they needed to do to get ready for commissioning and then first users in the fall.

Monday, June 7, 4:15 p.m.: Professor Henry Chapman from the DESY Center for Free Electron Lasers and University of Hamburg gave the SLAC colloquium, "First Bio-Imaging Results from LCLS." It was a wonderful talk, and Chapman did a great job demonstrating the scientific potential of the machine with first LCLS data. I was impressed at the diversity of the audience as the lab turned out in force to hear about first results from LCLS

Wednesday, June 9, 9:30 a.m.: On Tuesday, Dan Lehman and his team spent the day reviewing the LCLS project. This Critical Decision 4 review was to recommend whether SLAC is ready for completion of the LCLS project and start of LCLS operations. The review committee responded to their charge question: "Is the project ready for approval of CD-4, start of Operations?" with a resounding "Yes!." Official project completion will come in the next month or two from the Department of Energy. It was an emotional moment. In some ways, it was a bit of an anti-climax, a bit like when a student turns in her doctoral thesis, but it also felt really, really good. It took the committee 15 minutes at the closeout to declare the project ready for CD-4. It took another 15 minutes for representatives of the Site Office (Hanley Lee), the program (Pedro Montano), the project (John Galayda), and the laboratory (me) to stumble through our emotional thanks to all the people who have worked to make this moment possible. And while CD-4 is the end of the LCLS project, it is just the beginning of LCLS science.

And then someone on the committee said, "And we will be back!." We anticipate the CD-1 review (review of conceptual design) for LCLS-II to take place next summer. Yes indeed… we will be back!

—Persis Drell
SLAC Today, June 11, 2010