Thyratrons and imaging sensors from e2v have been chosen to form part of the new X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) that is being built at the SPring-8 radiation facility located in Hyogo Prefecture in Japan.
The free electron laser will generate high-intensity X-rays by accelerating electrons to relativistic speeds, which then produce X-ray light in synchronisation.
The high-intensity X-ray pulses generated have the properties of laser light, with intensities much brighter than those produced by conventional synchrotron light sources.
A joint project between RIKEN (Japan’s natural sciences research institute) and the Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute (JASRI), the XFEL has been designated as a key technology of national importance by the Japanese government.
The CX1836 thyratrons and driver units from e2v will form the heart of a high-voltage power supply, which will power the klystrons that will then supply microwave energy to drive RF cavity resonators that will accelerate the electrons around the system.
e2v’s CCDs will be used to detect the X-rays scattered by the scientific samples in the XFEL beam.
From these scattered X-rays, scientists will be able to see the atomic structure of proteins and other nano-scale structures.
e2v is carrying out a custom CCD design for the XFEL detectors themselves.
The CCD and CCD package design will enable a 100mm x 100mm X-ray-sensitive focal plane with a 50-micron pixel resolution to be constructed, which will boast a 60 frames/s readout speed, fast enough to enable them to capture the 2-12keV X-rays scattered by the samples.
The new XFEL facility is due for completion in 2010.