Doing Science at The Edge

Supporting the World’s First Free Electron Laser at Arizona State University

Doing Science at The Edge

Serious science requires serious Data Center Infrastructure. When William Graves, a researcher and associate professor of physics at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University (ASU), wanted to build the world’s first free electron laser, and received a National Science Foundation grant to support the project, the team needed an Edge IT facility in the same space to support their efforts.

The new tool, the only one of its kind in the world, is called the CXFEL, or Compact X-Ray Free Electron Laser.  The CXFEL enables William Graves and his team to push the boundaries of diagnostic research imaging. The Laser will help scientists better understand the cellular mechanics of diseases like cancer and processes like photosynthesis, accelerating research for new treatments and energy sources.

The team faced unique challenges throughout the entire design and deployment process.  One of the key concerns: How to best support the IT equipment required to control the laser and also to store the massive amounts of data it would produce.  Any enclosures supporting the IT appliances would need to be in the same space as the CXFEL and subjected to the same environmental conditions in the experimental area.

Reviewing options for the installation, ASU realized that the only infrastructure solution that could support the project criteria would be a high density installation supported by the highest capacity closed loop climate control system in the smallest practical footprint. Rittal’s LCP CW HD closed-loop system was selected.

Instead of operating as a traditional system in a typical cold aisle/hot aisle configuration, the Rittal LCP HD uses a closed airflow loop – all cold air and hot air is contained within the suite and no air is rejected into external spaces. The closed airflow loop harnesses the power of the air-to-water heat exchanger and maximizes heat removal. This enabled the team to increase the density of the servers and reduce the number of server racks needed to support the CXFEL. The closed loop system is also exceptionally quiet, making it comfortable for the team to have this Edge Data Center facility located within the same space as the laser equipment.

Data Specialties installed a total of (3) Rittal LCP systems in the ASU lab where they will soon be supporting the cutting edge CXFEL and the range of experiments expanding the frontiers of human life sciences.

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