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Jefferson Lab experiment generates THz radiation 20,000 times brighter than anyone else

some 20,000 times more. "Think of a candle and then think of a floodlight," says Williams.

But no matter how bright they are, terahertz light rays can't penetrate metal or water. So they can't be used to inspect cargo containers on arriving ships or to diagnose conditions deep inside the human body."Nevertheless," says Williams, "the growing awareness of terahertz light's usefulness is like what happened a century ago with X-rays -- only terahertz light will have a much wider range of applications. The task now will be to develop those uses."

Bringing 10-year-old idea to fruition

About 10 years ago Williams wrote a paper proposing a method for generating large amounts of terahertz light. In the mid-90s he started following the development of JLab's Free-Electron Laser. Williams came to Jefferson Lab from Brookhaven National Lab in the spring of 2000; he actively began pursuing his experiment last June, when he drove a van to Brookhaven to bring back a spectrometer on loan from his old laboratory. Kevin Jordan and George Neil, both JLab staff, soon had it installed and proof-of-principle experiments took place. The final run, with a better spectrometer and detector, took place in early November 2001 and included Larry Carr from Brookhaven, and Michael Martin and Wayne McKinney from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

"We didn't create something new," Williams explains. "The terahertz light had always been there inside of the FEL's vacuum-sealed beam pipe. We just figured out how to open the pipe, put in a window to let the light out, and how to measure it. Williams is looking forward to performing proof-of-principle experiments of the capabilities of THz light with the upgraded FEL and a newly designed section of FEL beam pipe that should allow even more of the light out.

Williams and his collaborators presented their results at the First International Conference on terahertz Radiation in December of 2001, and shortly thereafter he wrote the
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Contact: Linda Ware
ware@jlab.org
757-269-7689
DOE/Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility
27-Jan-2003


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