The Committee on Free Electron Lasers and Other Advanced Coherent Light Sources was organized by the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology and the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Research Council (NRC) and supported by the Department of Energy and by the Office of Naval Research. The committee was asked to study the scientific opportunities presented by free electron lasers and other advanced coherent light sources.
There have been new proposals for the construction of advanced light sources in all spectral regions from the far infrared to the x-ray. Part of the motivation for proposing these sources is their potential for scientific research, and the committee's study was aimed at evaluating that potential relative to other photon sources. One way of approaching the charge was to answer two questions: (1) What are the most important scientific problems whose solutions require photons? (2) What mix of photon sources (e.g., free electron lasers, laboratory lasers, synchrotrons, and others) will be best for solving these problems?
The committee's charge was to study potential applications of these photon sources to scientific research only. There are many other reasons for building free electron lasers. For example, they represent new technologies that deserve support in their own right, manufacturing applications such as materials processing might use lasers, and there might be applications in diagnostic and therapeutic medicine. While these other reasons may be important, they were outside the committee' s charge and were not examined.
The committee held four meetings preceded by a preliminary planning session. The planning session was held in October 1993 and was attended by the chairman, the NRC staff, and several scientists with various kinds of expertise. The purpose of this session was to define the committee's work and determine the methodology to be used.
The first meeting, in December 1993, was organized mainly as a workshop whose purpose was to assess the current and future state of free electron laser development. Several questions were asked at this workshop. What do free electron lasers and other sources do now? What are they likely to do in the future? What are they likely to cost? Speakers, panel members, and participants (see Appendix A) had a broad range of expertise in the development of free electron lasers and other advanced light sources such as synchrotrons, plasma lasers, and laboratory lasers. The committee also heard talks about free electron laser facilities in other countries.
The second meeting, held in March 1994, was also partly a workshop at which the applications of various photon sources in scientific research were examined. We invited speakers to present what they thought were the most compelling scientific problems in their area that required sophisticated photon sources and to describe the