A Billion Times Brighter

The Linac Coherent Light Source at SLAC

Persis Drell
Director and Professor, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University

2287th Meeting Abstract
Friday, September 9, 2011 at 8:15 PM

Persis Drell


The Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), built on the legacy of the Stanford Linear Accelerator, is the world’s brightest source of hard X-ray laser light, a billion times brighter than any previous source of hard X-rays in existence. Like an ultra-fast, ultra-bright strobe, the LCLS opens new doors on atomic and molecular structure and dynamics, at very high resolution and on extremely short time scales. Experiments using the LCLS are illuminating the formation and breaking of chemical bonds at the atomic level, showing how materials work on the quantum level, and revealing the structures of key biological molecules and viruses.

This talk will focus on the conception, construction, and start up of the LCLS, as well as some of the first experimental results, with a view to the new frontier of science that this remarkable tool has enabled. This scientific and technical achievement will be set against the backdrop of the evolution of a National Laboratory, SLAC, which has reinvented itself and its science in the delivery of this new facility.

About the Author:

Persis Drell is Director at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Professor of Particle Physics and Astrophysics at Stanford University. She received her B.A. in mathematics and physics from Wellesley College, and her Ph.D. in atomic physics from the University of California, Berkeley. She joined the Physics Department at Cornell University in 1988, becoming head of the high-energy physics group in 2000, and Deputy Director of Cornell's Laboratory of Nuclear Studies in 2001. In 2002, she joined SLAC as Professor and Director of Research. She became SLAC's Director in 2007. Her current research activities are in the area of particle astrophysics.

Dr. Drell is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Physical Society, and member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, and she was the Morris Loeb Lecturer in Physics at Harvard University in 2006. Dr. Drell is the recipient of numerous other awards and has served on a variety of advisory committees concerned with national research, facilities, and physics funding priorities.

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