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Free Electron Lasers were invented by John Madey in 1976 at Stanford University. The work emanates from research done by Hans Motz who proposed the wiggler magnetic configuration which is at the heart of a free electron laser. Madey used a 24 MeV electron beam and 5 m long wiggler to amplify a signal. Soon afterward, other laboratories with accelerators started developing such lasers.
In "The Euclid Alternative", Leonard is working nights using the free-electron laser to conduct his X-ray diffraction experiment.