REVIEWS | BOOKS
Ultraviolet and Soft X-Ray Free-Electron Lasers:
Introduction to Physical Principles, Experimental
Results, Technological Challenges
Peter Schmueser, Martin Dohlus and Joerg Rossbach
Springer Tracts in Modern Physics, 2008; $179.95 (hardcover).
The basic concept of the free-electron laser has been known for many years. The idea is to generate X-rays with undulator beams in linear accelerators. Since these accelerators are normally very big
machines that are only found in national laboratories, they have not been popular so far. On the other
hand, the X-ray machines used in many hospitals nowadays are probably to some extent related to the
basic concept of free-electron lasers. The recent announcement of the successful hard X-ray free-electron laser built at the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory most likely will
stimulate further research into X-ray free-electron lasers.
This book gives a rather detailed review of the development of soft X-ray free-electron lasers. It
started with the concept of an undulator and followed with the one-dimensional free-electron laser
theory, including some nonlinear effects.
We note that free-electron laser and X-ray lasers are all oscillators with a threshold. The difference
between a soft and a hard X-ray laser, for example, really lies in the difference in their thresholds. Thus,
we need to examine more closely the thresholds of these systems.