An upgrade of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at SLAC will provide new experimental capabilities in time-resolved physics, chemistry, and biomolecular research fields. The Department of Energy is currently reviewing a plan SLAC submitted that the lab says will, among other things, let experimenters create more detailed motion pictures of the making and breaking of chemical bonds.

Based on recommendations from the Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (BESAC), the project would modify the LCLS-II, an already approved upgrade to the LCLS that is supposed to begin construction in fiscal year 2014, assuming Congress appropriates the funding. A BESAC report released in July urges DOE to build “an unprecedented x-ray light source” that would leapfrog the capabilities of any other free-electron laser (FEL) x-ray source being built or planned worldwide. The report bluntly warns DOE that failure to build such a machine would cause the US to lose its 40-year...

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