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[en] The field of synchrotron radiation research has grown rapidly over the last 25 years due to both the push of the accelerator and magnet technology that produces the x-ray beams and the pull of the extraordinary scientific research that is possible with them. Three successive generations of synchrotrons radiation facilities have resulted in beam brilliances 11 to 12 orders of magnitude greater than the standard laboratory x-ray tube. However, greater advances can be easily imagined given the fact that x-ray beams from present-day facilities do not exhibit the coherence or time structure so familiar with the optical laser. Theoretical work over the last ten years or so has pointed to the possibility of generating hard x-ray beams with laser-like characteristics. The concept is based on self-amplified spontaneous emission (SASE) in flee-electron lasers. A major facility of this type based upon a superconducting linac could produce a cost-effective facility that spans wave-lengths from the ultraviolet to the hard x-ray regime, simultaneously servicing large numbers experimenters from a wide range of disciplines. As with each past generation of synchrotrons facilities, immense new scientific opportunities would result from fourth-generation sources.