Using particle accelerators to generate electromagnetic radiation has proved to be an invaluable tool for scientific experiments.
The latest generation of these ‘light sources’ is the X-ray Free Electron Laser (FEL), which has been demonstrated with outstanding performance characteristics in the USA and Japan, with others in development.
Even given these impressive achievements, the potential for FELs is still far greater in terms of optimising the output performance to further the capabilities of the science community.
The CLARA project aims to build on the UK’s existing expertise and experimental experience in free electron lasers, to pave the way for a state-of-the-art FEL facility for the UK, while simultaneously contributing to international R&D.
The ultimate aim is to develop a normal-conducting test accelerator delivering approximately 250 MeV electron beam energy able to generate longitudinally and transversely bright electron bunches. These will be used in the experimental production of stable, synchronised, ultra-short photon pulses of coherent light from a single pass FEL using techniques directly applicable to the future generation of light source facilities. It is foreseen that the CLARA beam will be used for testing other advanced concepts such as beam driven wakefield acceleration.
CLARA will be located in an existing building previously used for the Synchrotron Radiation Source (SRS) and will utilise the front end of VELA as a first stage. Detailed design studies for CLARA are in progress and national and international partners are welcome to collaborate.