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Timing and Synchronization R&D

Contact: John Byrd

The next generation of light sources is will probe ultrafast dynamics in materials with time scales less than 100 femtoseconds. One class of experiments at these facilities is known as pump-probe , where an optical laser system initiates a reaction in a material and a following x-ray laser pulse images the molecular structure. If the relative delay of the pump and probe can be adjusted, the series of frames can be assembled to make a movie of the process. Without a precise synchronization of the pump and probe beams, the movie frames will be impossibly jumbled.

Because the source of the x-ray probe beam is a linear accelerator and ranges from several hundred meters to a few kilometers in length, it is a challenge to synchronize it to a laser. Furthermore, to create the high quality beams needed to produce x-ray laser, the entire accelerator requires an unprecedented level of synchronization. We have developed a solution to meet this challenge by distributing timing signals over a fiber optic network. FPO