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ASU receives $91 million grant to construct X-ray laser instrument

This week, the National Science Foundation awarded Arizona State University a research grant of $91 million — the largest ever granted to the university by the agency. Funding will go toward the development of X-ray laser technology that would help scientists conduct research in areas like molecular biology.

That includes a five-year project to build a massive, first-of-its-kind X-ray laser instrument known as the Compact X-ray Free Electron Laser.

Petra Fromme is the scientific director of the project.

“In 2014, we approached President Crow with the idea to start the Center for Applied Structural Discovery and build [a] compact free electron laser here at ASU," she said.

The technology would contribute to scientific advancements, including in medicine and semiconductor research. ASU is providing an additional $80 million for the project.

The Show caught up with Bill Graves to talk about what kind of impact it could have on many scientific disciplines. Graves is a professor of applied physics at ASU and chief scientist and principal investigator on the project.

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Ignacio Ventura is a reporter for KJZZ. He graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and a minor in news media and society.