experiments

Experimental Stations

The powerful light pulses generated by the laser sources ATLAS and PFS-pro offer unique opportunities for controlling particles such as electrons and ions. Through the vacuum tubular system (Laser Beam Delivery, LBD) the laser sources are connected to experimental stations in laboratories especially equipped with a radiation protection shielding.

The notified experiments at CALA are supposed to explore the physical basics for a later use in medicine. Electrons or ions are accelerated through light. Relativistic electrons are used for the generation of brilliant X-rays (ETTF, LUX and SPECTRE) for imaging ions for research towards therapy (LION). In this context the HF (“High Field”) experimental facilities complement the laser-driven particle research. In the HF project examinations with laser-accelerated ions and their interactions with matter at highest focused laser field intensities are performed.

Furthermore, with the BIRD experiment an experimental station for trace analysis of tumor-relevant metabolites in blood and breathing air with the help of laser light is now as well in the building. The scientific experimental portfolio is complemented by the Munich Compact Light Source (MuCLS). This unique device creates X-rays through the collision of high-energy electrons with low-energy photons from an infrared laser.

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Electron and Thomson Test Facility (ETTF)

On the basis of the unique high peak power of the ATLAS-3000 system, the laser induced electron acceleration can be extended up to the multi-gigaelectronvolts range so that electron beams with a so far unrivalled combination of electron charge and phase space density will be available.

These beams are ideally suited for the generation of stunningly brilliant X-rays and the stimulation of electron beam driven acceleration. The biggest challenge here is the precise control of relativistic particle dynamics, which currently can only be examined experimentally due to incomplete simulation models. For this ETTF provides a broad range of diagnostic methods. The aim is the complete measurement and control of the phase space of generated electron bunches analogous to present possibilities of conventional accelerators but with disparate shorter times and higher density within only one single shot. In the process a beam quality that is able to stimulate a compact free-electron laser in the range of XUV should be achieved on the one hand and on the other hand tunable, narrowband electron bunches for the generation of hard X-rays through Thomson-backscattering (70 keV – multi-MeV) or betatron radiation (10-50 keV) shall be provided. This radiation is produced directly in the ETTF and is supposed to be used for examination of ultrafast phenomena in solid states and plasma as well as for phase contrast X-ray imaging in medicine.

Project Coordination: Prof. Dr. Stefan Karsch

  • Primary Beam
    ATLAS laser
  • Secondary Beam
    brilliant X-rays
  • Main Motivation
    radiation biology

Laser-driven Undulator X-Ray Source (LUX)

The laser-undulator X-ray source (LUX) is an undulator-based synchrotron radiation source. Its aim is to generate brilliant, spontaneous undulator radiation with photon energy in the range of 1 to 25 keV and pulse duration of a few femtoseconds on the one hand and on the other hand the source is to be developed further to one of the world's first laser-plasma-accelerator based free-electron lasers (FEL). First with relatively long wavelengths for demonstration-experiments, henceforth gradual reduction follows as far as photon energy of five keV.

LUX as well as FEL target novel pump-probe-experiments with brilliant probe X-ray pulses. The X-ray pulses are synchronized with an excitation pulse that is separated from the ATLAS-3000 laser pulse. With that, experiments with spatial as well as temporal atomic resolution are possible.

The core component of the set-up is an optimized laser-plasma-accelerator, based on the findings of ETTF, which allows the acceleration of electrons to energies of several gigaelectronvolts, with only few centimeters of acceleration track. Miniature electron optics with high field gradients of up to 500 T/m is added, as well as high-precision electron diagnostics and two LUX- respectively FEL-mode optimized undulators.

Project Coordination: Prof. Dr. Reinhard Kienberger

  • Primary Beam
    ATLAS laser
  • Secondary Beam
    brilliant X-rays
  • Main Motivation
    biomedical imaging

Munich Compact Light Source - Biomedical X-ray Imaging beamline (MuCLS-BXIB)

For use in biomedical imaging experiments, the brilliant X-ray beam produced by the MuCLS source is coupled to the Biomedical X-ray Imaging Beamline in the MuCLS-BXIB set-up. All mandated radiation protection measures will be implemented during construction of the beamline. It will also be fitted with the radiological diagnostic systems necessary to ensure long-term beam stability, which is essential for high-resolution computer tomography.

Specifically, monitors will be installed that track the precise position of the X-ray beam, which will make it possible to adjust its trajectory via an online feedback system. In addition, filters, focusing devices and various detection systems will be integrated into the beamline, which together enable the beam to be targeted with an accuracy of between 0.5 μm (for a field of view of 1.0 mm diameter) and 30 μm (at an FOV of approximately 60 mm). For this purpose, high-resolution indirect CCD detectors (equipped with a scintillator layer to convert X-radiation into visible light and an optical set-up that blocks any stray X-rays) and direct Si- and CdTe-based pixel detectors will be employed.

In the initial phase of operation, routine imaging experiments using high-resolution phase-contrast microtomography (to examine material from tumor biopsies, for example), as well as in-vivo experiments on laboratory animals (e.g. mouse tumor models), will be carried out. The level of resolution and the size of the overall field of view can be varied in accordance with the requirements of the individual experiment. In addition to the partial coherence of the x-ray beam, which is a pre-requisite for phase-contrast imaging applications, we will use the intrinsic monochromaticity for spectral x-ray imaging applications. The initial experiment will focus on improving early detection and precise diagnosis of cardio-vascular, lung, and oncological diseases.

Project Coordination: Dr. Franz Pfeiffer, Dr. Martin Dierolf

Source for Powerful Energetic Compact Thomson Radiation Experiments (SPECTRE)

The worldwide unique combination of light pulses with few oscillation cycles and high peak power, which will be provided at CALA by the laser source PFS-pro with repetition rates of 1-5 kHz, creates ideal conditions for the establishment of a Thomson X-ray source in the energy range of 30-70 keV for medical phase contrast imaging.

SPECTRE is a vacuum experimental chamber in which up to two laser beams with approx. 10-15 cm in diameter can be focused. Whilst one beam generates an ultra-short electron package that is tunable in energy, a second beam collides with the electrons and stimulates them to oscillate which leads to emissions of highly energetic X-rays. The chamber will posses extensive electron beam diagnosis (spectrum, pulse duration, direction, divergence) and several X-ray detectors for an energy range of 30-100 keV, as well as appliances for the adjustment of the needed X-ray energy. At the beginning the main focus is on phase contrast imaging in point projection, while later X-ray optics will ensure the propagation of the X-ray, particularly adjusted to the respective applications.

 

Project Coordination: Prof. Dr. Stefan Karsch

  • Primary Beam
    PFS-pro laser
  • Secondary Beam
    high energy X-rays
  • Main Motivation
    phase contrast imaging

Broadband Infrared Radiation Diagnostics (BIRD)

Cancer is a rapidly growing global health problem that exacts a tremendous toll on society. The ability to diagnose cancer rapidly with high sensitivity and specificity is essential to exploit advances in new treatments in oncology. Thus, concept of early cancer detection remains one of the best strategies for reducing this growing cancer burden. The Broadband Infrared Diagnostics (BIRD) project in the frame of CALA aims at applying laser-based vibrational spectroscopy for sensitive, label-free, rapid, broadly applicable analytical method that could improve the efficiency of early cancer diagnosis in a reliable, cost-effective fashion.

Within the framework of the BIRD project, we devise a way to apply a powerful multi-octave femtosecond mid-infrared (MIR) laser source for vibrational spectroscopy. Vibrational spectroscopy offers the potential for the acquisition of global molecular fingerprints not limited to any kind of specific molecules in bio-medical samples, without complex sample preparation. In combination with newly devised data analysis software, the technology is ideally suited for high throughput screening approaches of large sample sets.

We apply femtosecond laser-based spectroscopy, to systematically test its applicability in detecting the earliest cellular and molecular changes of the onset of cancer. Thus we wish to (i) provide diagnostic, medically relevant essays for early cancer detection with high-throughput profiling, and (ii) to quantitatively interrogate the very initial molecular cellular mechanisms of cancerous onset in real time, in vivo. Moreover, (iii) by joining clinical studies we will directly apply our new femtosecond laser technology on primary clinical human samples.

Project Coordination: Dr. Mihaela Zigman

  • Primary Beam
    InfraLight laser
  • Secondary Beam
    broadband IR-light
  • Main Motivation
    early cancer diagnosis

Laser-driven Ion Acceleration (LION)

The experimental station “laser-driven Ion (LION) Acceleration” serves research of this novel particle accelerator technology that is going to supplement the conventional ion sources crucial and is going to be used in physical basic research and in medicine as well.

Within the LION-experiments high intensity light pulses, generated by the laser sources ATLAS or PFS-pro, meet wafer thin carbon-based foils such as of diamond. They dissolve out ions and accelerate them to some ten percent of light speed. Ion radiation occurs driven by the light pressure of the ultra-short light pulses. The accelerated particles are proven and characterized by detectors, which are partly subject of research as well. Moreover, through particle-optics, e.g. magnetic lenses, the ions are transported, energy-selected, as well as manipulated and focused on the sample under investigation.

Laser-driven ion radiation provides already these days an interesting contribution for the research of ion cancer therapy. The laser technology is not able so far to generate an equal radiation but could open a new era in the treatment of tumors in cancer therapy, if enough high energy is available. With this it has the potential to provide the necessary technology for medical use of ion radiation in a much more cost-effective and space-saving way.

Project Coordination: Prof. Dr. Jörg Schreiber

  • Primary Beam
    ATLAS laser
  • Secondary Beam
    protons + carbon ions
  • Main Motivation
    tumor therapy

High Field Physics (HF)

At the HF (“High Field”) experimental facilities of CALA examinations with laser-accelerated ions and their interactions with matter at highest focused laser field intensities are performed. The aim is to explore the characteristics of ion pulses with extremely high particle density. The exploration of the characteristics of such ion packages helps, for example, to clarify astrophysical questioning. Moreover the analysis of laser-driven particle pulses helps to optimize the proton and ion acceleration for medical imaging.

Project Coordination: PD Dr. Peter Thirolf

  • Primary Beam
    ATLAS laser
  • Secondary Beam
    ions
  • Main Motivation
    fundamental questioning
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