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Explore Energy is an effort of the Precourt Institute for Energy, which is part of the Doerr School of Sustainability.


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As part of Energy@Stanford & SLAC, we have hosted an optional, in-person tour of SLAC's 2-mile long linear accelerator, the X-ray laser facility (LCLS), the synchrotron (SSRL), and the GISMo lab (Grid Integration, Storage, and Mobility). This tour has been virtual during the 2021 and 2022 conferences due to the ongoing pandemic and new protocols, but we hope to offer it in-person again in 2023.


SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, SLAC has been operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy since its founding in 1962.

SLAC built, what was at the time the world’s longest particle accelerator, discovered some of the fundamental building blocks of matter and created the first website in North America. X-ray laser research is revealing intimate details of atoms and chemical reactions and making stop-motion movies of this tiny realm, with the goal of doing the same for living cells. SLAC is also developing the smaller, more efficient particle accelerators of the future. Six scientists have been awarded Nobel prizes for work done at SLAC.

Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) - called “linac” for short, was the world’s first hard X-ray free-electron laser, pushing science to new extremes with ultrabright, ultrashort pulses that capture atomic-scale snapshots in quadrillionths of a second that reveal never-before-seen structures and properties in matter, and can be compiled to make movies of molecules in motion. Construction has begun on a major upgrade to LCLS that will add a second x-ray laser beam that is 10,000 times brighter with pulses that arrive up to a million times per second – greatly sharpening our view of how nature works at the atomic level and on ultrafast timescales.

SLAC is also home to the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), a pioneering synchrotron radiation facility primarily used for materials science and biology experiments. Now in its fifth decade, SSRL is still evolving and is well-positioned to make significant contributions to scientific discovery for decades to come.