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ASU Biodesign Receives $4.7M NSF Grant To Improve X-Ray Laser

The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University has received a $4.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation to advance its miniaturized particle accelerator laser.

X-ray free electron lasers use mile-long particle accelerators to produce dazzlingly powerful X-rays in super-fast pulses.

They can reveal subjects typically invisible to X-rays, such as soft tissues, or too fast to observe, such as chemical reactions.

By switching from a series of powerful magnets to a smaller infrared laser, the ASU team has shrunk its version to just 30 feet long, and exchanged some power for greater precision.

"It will be much more precise in scientifically important ways. We will make exactly the X-rays that we want and not the ones we don't want," said project lead Bill Graves of the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery.

The grant supports taking the device to a faster, more finely tuned version.

Nicholas Gerbis was a senior field correspondent for KJZZ from 2016 to 2024.