Monday, April 27, 2015

The FELIX laboratory at Radboud University
The FELIX laboratory at Radboud University houses the first laser in the world which can produce wavelengths in the far infrared region – waves up to 1.5 millimetres. How do biomaterials and other materials react to these long light waves? And what can we learn from this? The equipment in the FELIX lab reveals new characteristics of materials.
FELIX’s three lasers each produce their own range of wavelengths. Together, they provide the world’s largest tuning range in the infrared and terahertz spectrum.
The three different lasers are:
  • FELIX: Free-electron Laser for Infrared eXperiments
  • FELICE: Free-electron Laser for IntraCavity Experiments
  • FLARE: Free-electron Laser for Advanced spectroscopy and high-Resolution Experiments
The infrared radiation of the FELIX lasers interacts with molecules and materials. This can reveal detailed information about 3D structure and electronic properties. In this way, FELIX and its users help to explore the secrets of nature and to develop new technologies. For instance: how our body converts food into energy, how to build a quantum computer or how our planet was once formed from stardust.
FELIX’s neighbour, the high-field magnet laboratory HFML, hosts some of the most powerful magnets in the world and is another unique facility at Radboud University. The combination of these magnets with the FELIX lasers offers scientists possibility to study matter and materials in conditions that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Technical challenges
In November 2012 researchers from FELIX and HFML performed a joint experiment for the first time. HFML researcher Hans Engelkamp: 'It’s difficult to transport light with a wavelength of around one millimetre without losing a lot of energy. Light with such long waves fans out quickly and is therefore hard to direct. In this experiment we focused the light in a brass tube, which acts as a mirror. However, every reflection costs energy, so the challenge is to minimise the energy loss.'
FELIX is ran by researchers from the Molecular and Biophysics group of the Institute for Molecules and Materials at Radboud University Nijmegen. The FELIX and FELICE lasers originally came from the laboratory of the FOM Institute for Plasma Physics Rijnhuizen in the Netherlands. The FLARE lab is part of the Nijmegen Center for Advanced Spectroscopy (NCAS).

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