The Compact Light Source

The Compact Light Source (CLS) is a breakthrough technology that addresses the increasing demand for access to high quality X-rays by offering the possibility of a synchrotron beamline for home laboratory applications. The CLS X-ray beam shares some favorable features of synchrotron light – a continuously tunable energy spectrum and high spatial coherence – combined with some unique attributes such as intrinsically narrow bandwidth (few %) and a moderate (few milliradian) diverging cone beam. The highly peaked spectrum provides an extremely low-noise background compared to both conventional sources and many synchrotron beamlines. The cone beam divergence is small enough to be efficiently focused with x-ray optics yet large enough to provide a nearly uniform area beam by letting the native beam drift several meters. The CLS X-rays provide powerful probes to reveal a range of physical structure down to the atomic scale. The CLS is useful across many disciplines of X-ray science, including materials, nanotechnology, structural biology, medical sciences, semiconductor metrology, pharmaceutical development, and other chemical and physical sciences. The CLS provides scientists with access to local, on-demand synchrotron light, allowing for an unprecedented new level of productivity.

The Compact Light Source

The CLS assembled at the headquarters of Lyncean Technologies, Inc. in Palo Alto, CA


The CLS is a small tunable X-ray source that can fit into a typical experimenter’s laboratory and can be used in much the same way as an X-ray beamline at a large synchrotron facility. X-ray scientists at synchrotron laboratories around the world have developed a vast array of applications over several decades, many of which cannot be exploited using conventional sources, but can be performed by the CLS. By opening access to these powerful x-ray applications, the CLS enables new avenues of discovery to a broad range of researchers.

The CLS development builds on the U.S. investment in large synchrotrons, but with a new technology that allows the source to be very compact. Conventional synchrotron light sources employ multi-GeV electron beams that are stored in large rings of magnets to generate intense, bright, 1 Å wavelength radiation. The CLS employs an electron beam and laser beam to accomplish the same effect. The shift from periodic magnets used in a typical synchrotron light source, to the laser beam used in the CLS, allows a reduction of energy and scale by a factor 200 – a stadium size machine becomes a room size machine!

Advanced Photon Source

An aerial photograph of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. See the car in the red circle? That is the approximate size of the Compact Light Source.