Graduate School

Introduction to free-electron lasers

This course is part of the programme:
Physics (Third Level)

Objectives and competences

The course will give an overview on the generation mechanism and properties of radiation produced by free-electron lasers (FELs).

Emphasis will be put on the difference between the pulse properties of seeded and SASE FELs.

The objective is to provide students with a physical background behind the operation of an FEL.

Part of the course will discuss recent applications of FEL radiation in state-of-the art experiments in the field of biology and material science.



Content (Syllabus outline)

Radiation sources:

Bending magnet.



Free-electron lasers (FELs):

Self-amplified spontaneous emission FEL.

Seeded FEL.

High-gain harmonic generation (HGHG) FEL.

Echo-enabled harmonic generation (EEHG) FEL.

Applications of FEL radiation:

Femtosecond x-ray nanocrystallography and coherent x-ray diffraction imaging.

Time-resolved experiments with FELs.

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding:

The students will understand the generation mechanism and properties of radiation produced by FELs. They will be introduced to the possible applications of FEL pulses in different scientific disciplines.


1. P Luchini, H Motz, Undulators and free-electron lasers, Oxford [England]: Clarendon Press; New York : Oxford University Press, 1990.

2. R. Bonifacio, F. Casagrande, G. Cerchioni, L. de Salvo Souza, P. Pierini, N. Piovella, Physics of the high-gain FEL and superradiance, La Rivista del Nuovo Cimento 13, 1 (1990)

3. G. Margaritondo, Primož Rebernik Ribič, A simplified description of X-ray free-electron lasers, Journal of Synchrotron Radiation 18, 101 (2011)

4. Primož Rebernik Ribič, Giorgio Margaritondo, Status and prospects of x-ray free-electron lasers (X-FELs): a simple presentation, Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics 45, 213001 (2012)

5. C. Pellegrini, A. Marinelli, and S. Reiche, The physics of x-ray free-electron lasers, Rev. Mod. Phys. 88, 015006 (2016)


Written report, oral presentation. (50/50)

Lecturer's references

Assistant professor of physics at the University of Nova Gorica.

1. REBERNIK RIBIČ, Primož, ABRAMI, Alessandro, BADANO, Laura, BOSSI, Maurizio, BRAUN, Hans-Heinrich, BRUCHON, Niky, CAPOTONDI, Flavio, CASTRONOVO, Davide, CAUTERO, Marco, CINQUEGRANA, Paolo, DE NINNO, Giovanni, et al. Coherent soft X-ray pulses from an echo-enabled harmonic generation free-electron laser. Nature photonics. 2019, str. 1-8, ilustr. ISSN 1749-4885.

2. TANAKA, Takashi, REBERNIK RIBIČ, Primož. Shortening the pulse duration in seeded free-electron lasers by chirped microbunching. Optics express. 2019, vol. 27, no. 21, str. 30875-30892. ISSN 1094-4087.

3. REBERNIK RIBIČ, Primož, DE NINNO, Giovanni, et al. Extreme-ultraviolet vortices from a free-electron laser. Physical review. X. 2017, vol. 7, iss. 3, str. 031036-1-031036-9, ilustr. ISSN 2160-3308.

4. GAUTHIER, David, REBERNIK RIBIČ, Primož, DE NINNO, Giovanni, ALLARIA, Enrico, CINQUEGRANA, Paolo, BOJANOV DANAILOV, Miltcho, DEMIDOVICH, Alexander, FERRARI, Eugenio, GIANNESSI, Luca, MAHIEU, Benoît, PENCO, Giuseppe. Spectrotemporal shaping of seeded free-electron laser pulses. Physical review letters. [Print ed.]. 2015, vol. 115, no. 11, str. 114801-1-114801-5, ilustr. ISSN 0031-9007.

5. REBERNIK RIBIČ, Primož, GAUTHIER, David, DE NINNO, Giovanni. Generation of coherent extreme-ultraviolet radiation carrying orbital angular momentum. Physical review letters. [Print ed.]. 2014, vol. 112, no. 20, str. 203602-1-203602-5. ISSN 0031-9007.

University course code: 3FIi31

Year of study: 1




  • Lectures: 30 hours
  • Seminar: 20 hours
  • Individual work: 130 hours

Course type: elective

Languages: slovene/english

Learning and teaching methods:
lectures and seminars presented by the students and prepared under the supervision of the lecturer. the students will have a chance to visit the fermi fel at the elettra synchrotron.