The FEL program leverages the lab's core competencies in electron-source technology and
superconducting radio-frequency (SRF) electron-accelerating technology. All lasers convert
electron energy into laser light, though usually with only one invariable choice of wavelength,
or color. But a beam of electrons from a CEBAF-style SRF accelerator can be manipulated to generate
immensely powerful laser light cost-effectively and with the wavelength selectable - crucial
features for making light perform useful work.
Inside Jefferson Lab's Free-Electron Laser (FEL) User Facility, the initial kilowatt-range
FEL exceeds its specifications. Researchers have begun basic and applied-science
experiments using this laser. Expected upgrade funds will allow this initial FEL to be made still
more powerful and versatile.
The Applied Research Center, built by the city of Newport News at
Jefferson Lab, creates a high-technology synergy for the Hampton Roads
economy. It mixes Jefferson Lab staff, start-up companies, and university
researchers. Jefferson Lab offers technology-transfer and commercialization
opportunities in field ranging from materials processing with FELs to medical imaging
based on particle-detection technology.
The first Jefferson Lab FEL produces light with infrared (IR) wavelengths. This "IR Demo" FEL
has delivered 1.7 kilowatts of power, over 150 times more than any previous FEL. An upgrade is
planned for the coming decade: 10 kilowatts in the infrared, and 1 kilowatt in the ultraviolet
wavelengths, which are of special interest to industry.
FELs based on Jefferson Lab technology will advance basic science in atomic, molecular, and
optical physics. They will aid military laser technology development. And they will enable
industry to process materials in new ways for manufacturing new products - for example, by
making plastics more durable and metals more corrosion-resistant.