The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is a longtime partner on a grant from the National Science Foundation that supports the development of the next generation of X-ray Free Electron Lasers (XFELs) – novel instruments used to unmask phenomena that have never before been observed.

Since 2009, XFELs have enabled scientists to examine how molecules in the human body and in a variety of materials change over split-second intervals, important knowledge to help understand human health and medicine. The technology will also help advance renewable energy research, quantum technologies and semiconductor manufacturing.

But, because of the XFEL’s kilometer-long size and billion-dollar construction costs, the technology is available at only five facilities globally. The goal of this NSF grant, amounting to $90.8 million, is to build a compact XFEL, or CXFEL, that can accomplish the same tasks but in the space of a single room. The funding was awarded to Arizona State University and 11 collaborating institutions, including UWM.

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