Short-wavelength free-electron laser sources and science: A review

E. A. Seddon, J. A. Clarke, D. J. Dunning, C. Masciovecchio, C. J. Milne, F. Parmigiani, D. Rugg, John Spence, N. R. Thompson, K. Ueda, S. M. Vinko, J. S. Wark, W. Wurth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


This review is focused on free-electron lasers (FELs) in the hard to soft x-ray regime. The aim is to provide newcomers to the area with insights into: the basic physics of FELs, the qualities of the radiation they produce, the challenges of transmitting that radiation to end users and the diversity of current scientific applications. Initial consideration is given to FEL theory in order to provide the foundation for discussion of FEL output properties and the technical challenges of short-wavelength FELs. This is followed by an overview of existing x-ray FEL facilities, future facilities and FEL frontiers. To provide a context for information in the above sections, a detailed comparison of the photon pulse characteristics of FEL sources with those of other sources of high brightness x-rays is made. A brief summary of FEL beamline design and photon diagnostics then precedes an overview of FEL scientific applications. Recent highlights are covered in sections on structural biology, atomic and molecular physics, photochemistry, non-linear spectroscopy, shock physics, solid density plasmas. A short industrial perspective is also included to emphasise potential in this area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115901
JournalReports on Progress in Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Oct 23 2017


  • atomic and molecular
  • dynamics
  • free-electron laser
  • plasmas
  • serial femtosecond crystallography
  • shock physics
  • surfaces and materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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