- Free electron X-ray laser (FEL) generates ultra-short X-ray flashes
- Epoxy resin-bonded mineral casting enables highest levels of accuracy in laser design
- Casting machine bed serves as vibration-damping base
Epoxy resin-bonded mineral casting from Rampf Machine Systems is used as the vibration-damping base for the twelve undulators in the SwissFEL free electron X-ray laser. The machine bed material thus helps to achieve the highest levels of accuracy.
Free electron X-ray laser (FEL) generates ultra-short X-ray flashes
In 1971, British racing driver Peter Gethin won the Italian Grand Prix in Monza by 0.01 seconds. This victory is one of the closest in Formula 1 history. Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute would probably look on such margins with a weary smile: The free electron X-ray laser (FEL) they have developed generates ultra-short X-ray flashes that last about ten femtoseconds, or 0.000 000 000 000 01 seconds.
Researchers in the Swiss canton of Aargau will be using these X-ray flashes to break new scientific ground from 2016 onward. They will be able to better understand molecular processes in the human body that could not previously be examined, thus creating the basis for more targeted and effective medication, or to follow how new molecules are created during chemical reactions, and therefore contribute to the development of new processes for the chemical industry.
Extremely precise – and 740 meters long
The SwissFEL is roughly 740 meters long. Over the first 570 meters, electrons are generated and brought to a high energy state in a linear accelerator. They are then sent on a slalom course by a total of 12 undulators lined up one after the other, which forces them to give off X-ray flashes. Each undulator consists of 1060 magnets, which are stacked in two rows. The undulators weigh around 20 metric tons and, like the whole system, have to meet the very highest standards of accuracy. This is also made possible by using the mineral casting from Rampf Machine Systems.
Mineral casting machine bed serves as vibration-damping base
The mineral casting machine bed serves as a solid and vibration-damping base for the undulators, and therefore contributes to the implementation of this highly accurate process, according to Rampf Machine Systems. The company further explains that Epument has key advantages over other materials. For instance, the non-magnetic and non-conductive material prevents interference to the process through the machine base and ensures lasting stability that delivers high accuracy. Bonding of four individual parts ensures very good vibration damping and highest level of rigidity.
The way the machine bed is put together also contributes to the high performance of the SwissFEL. The company created the monolithic machine bed by bonding four individual parts. This ensures very good vibration damping and highest level of rigidity for absorbing the magnetic forces in the process.