A new spectrum of opportunities for manufacturing and for basic research
Free-electron lasers (FELs) offer substantial cost and capability advantages — including advantages for high-volume materials processing — over other manufacturing tools. FELs based on Jefferson Lab's superconducting electron-accelerating technology are being developed to process plastics, synthetic fibers, advanced materials, and metals as well as components for electronics, microtechnology, and nanotechnology. Prospective products include durable yet attractive polymer fabrics for clothing and carpeting; cheap, easily recyclable beverage and food packaging; corrosion-resistant metals with increased toughness; mechanical and optical components with precisely micromachined features; microcircuitry; and electronics for use in harsh conditions. Consortium members expect additional applications to evolve along with the technology itself.