You are here



Please Note that a Letter of Intent is due Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Program Area Overview


The Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES) supports fundamental research to understand, predict, and ultimately control matter and energy at the electronic, atomic, and molecular levels in order to provide the foundations for new energy technologies and to support DOE missions in energy, environment, and national security. The results of BES-supported research are routinely published in the open literature.

A key function of the program is to plan, construct, and operate premier scientific user facilities for the development of novel nanomaterials and for materials and chemical characterization through x-ray and neutron scattering; the former is accomplished through five Nanoscale Science Research Centers and the latter is accomplished through the world's largest suite of light source and neutron scattering facilities. These national resources are available free of charge to all researchers based on the quality and importance of proposed nonproprietary experiments.

A major objective of the BES program is to promote the transfer of the results of our basic research to advance and create technologies important to Department of Energy (DOE) missions in areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy resources, improved use of fossil fuels, the mitigation of the adverse impacts of energy production and use, and future nuclear energy sources. The following set of technical topics represents one important mechanism by which the BES program augments its system of university and laboratory research programs and integrates basic science, applied research, and development activities within the DOE.

For additional information regarding the Office of Basic Energy Sciences priorities, click here.



Maximum Phase I Award Amount: $150,000

Maximum Phase II Award Amount: $1,000,000

Accepting SBIR Applications: YES

Accepting STTR Applications: YES

 The Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES), within the DOE’s Office of Science, is responsible for current and future user facilities including synchrotron radiation, free electron lasers, and the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS). This topic is specifically focused on the development of superconducting helical undulators with superimposed focusing gradient for high-efficiency tapered x-ray free electron lasers (FELs); undulator tapering techniques for high-efficiency FELs, and non-invasive x-ray flux monitoring on light source optical elements. Grant applications that are not beyond the state-of-the-art nor do not fall within the topic will not be considered.

Grant applications are sought in the following subtopics:

a. Superconducting Helical Undulator with Superimposed Focusing Gradient for High Efficiency Tapered X-Ray FELs

Undulator tapering can significantly improve the x-ray FEL efficiency of energy transfer from electrons to X-ray photons [1]. Recent studies [2], at photon energies around 8 keV, indicate that although a tapered superconducting planar undulator, with focusing quadrupoles in between the undulator sections is feasible [3], a superior performance, achieving multi-TW peak power, is obtained using superconducting helical undulators with transverse focusing gradient superimposed on the main undulator field, short magnet sections and short breaks between sections. 

Grant applications are sought for the development of a prototype helical NbTi superconducting undulator with superimposed transverse focusing gradient technology with emphasis on performance, tunability, focusing properties, and practical viability for x-ray FELs applications. The required prototype characteristics are: undulator period 1.8-2 cm, undulator parameter 3, quadrupole focusing average beta function 4-6 m, undulator section length 1 m, undulator break length 15 cm. Matching phase shifters and beam position monitors must be included in the breaks. A systematic design study needs to be carried out, including iterative optimization of undulator features and geometry, based on engineering feedback, FEL performance optimization, and experimental development effort focused on building and testing a prototype magnet scalable to the full cell design.

Questions – contact: Eliane Lessner,

b. Undulator Tapering Techniques for High-Efficiency Free Electron Laser Sources

The x-ray FEL efficiency, measured as a fraction of the electron beam power converted into light, is typically below 0.1% for most of the x-FEL facilities presently in operation. Undulator tapering techniques can be used to improve the conversion efficiency by 1-2 orders of magnitude. Grant applications are sought for the development and scaled demonstration of a robust tapered x-FEL schemes, with the conversion efficiency above 10%. Such high efficiency x-FEL schemes can result in a significant increase in peak and average power available to the users, but need to be tested at laboratory scale.

Questions – contact: Eliane Lessner,

c. Development of Superconducting Undulators for Future Light Sources

One of the most critical components of existing and future synchrotron radiation and FEL sources is an undulator. Currently permanent magnet undulator technology dominates the field, but it came to its limits with the use of in-vacuum cryogenic permanent magnet undulator technology. New technology that outperforms best existing undulator technologies utilizes superconductors to build undulator magnets [1]. Superconducting undulators (SCU) deliver noticeably higher magnetic field for the same undulator period and magnetic gap compare with the most advanced permanent magnet undulators. SCUs could be built in both, planar and helical geometry. In both cases they outperform permanent magnet devices and represent obvious next step in undulator technology of future light sources.

Two SCUs are currently in operation at the Advanced Photon Source. But other BES light source facilities and LCLS [2] will greatly benefit from the use of SCUs. Success in advancements and upgrades of these facilities by utilizing SCUs will strongly depend on the ability of the superconductor-oriented industry to adopt such a technology and become a reputable vendor of SCUs. Grants are sought to identify and perform the necessary development to commercialize existing light source SCU technology into products that are readily available for the light source facilities.

Questions – contact: Eliane Lessner,

d. Non-Invasive X-Ray Flux Monitoring on Optical Elements

Most scientific instruments at synchrotron and free-electron laser facilities are complicated arrangements of individual optical components. These instruments often require a substantial fraction of the operational time to be allocated for optical alignment and troubleshooting. Non-invasive x-ray flux monitoring directly on the optical elements is expected to facilitate the alignment and troubleshooting as well as to provide real-time diagnostics of the optics performance. While in the soft x-ray regime (photon energies < 3 keV) monitoring x-ray-induced photocurrent on x-ray optics in vacuum may provide reliable measure of the incident and/or absorbed flux, in the regime of hard x-rays (photon energies > 3 keV) non-invasive (i.e., without the use of stand-alone x-ray detectors) characterization of the flux incident, transmitted or reflected from individual optical components remains limited.

Solutions including integration of hard x-ray flux monitoring capabilities to frequently used types of non-trivial optical elements (i.e., elements which operation is based on the effects of x-ray refraction, reflection or diffraction, such as x-ray mirrors, capillaries, refractive lenses, Fresnel zone plates, multilayers and diffracting crystals) are sought. The proposed solutions must provide quantitative measurement of the x-ray flux incident or reflected from or transmitted through the optical element with signal-to-noise ratio of better than 1x103 at an incident x-ray flux as small as 1x109 photons/second and greater in a non-invasive manner, i.e., avoiding additional attenuation of x-rays or any distortion of the radiation wavefront other than those resulting from the primary function of the optical element. The solutions may include x-ray optical elements with integrated flux monitoring capability or enclosures for existing optical components with an arrangement, which enables detection of the x-ray flux without deterioration of the performance of the optical components installed and operated in these enclosures.

The principle of non-invasive detection/monitoring of the incident/reflected/transmitted flux can be based on measurements of x-ray-induced photoemission, fluorescence, scattered radiation or other effects resulting from the interaction of x-rays with the material of the optical element [1-3].

Questions – contact: Eliane Lessner,

e. Other

In addition to the specific subtopics listed above, the Department invites grant applications in other areas that fall within the scope of the topic description above.

Questions – contact: Eliane Lessner,

References: Subtopic a:

1.     Kroll, N., Morton, P., & Rosenbluth, M., 1981, Free-electron Lasers with Variable Parameter Wigglers, IEEE Journal of Quantum Electron, Vol. 17, p. 1436–1468. (

2.     Emma, C., Fang, K., Wu, J., & Pellegrini, C., 2016, High Efficiency, Multiterawatt X-ray Free Electron Lasers, Physical Review Accelerators and Beams, Vol. 19, 020705. (  

3.     Emma, P., et al., 2014, A Plan for the Development of Superconducting Undulator Prototypes for LCLS-II and Future FELs, in FEL 2014 Conference proceedings, Basel, Switzerland, THA03. (   

US Flag An Official Website of the United States Government