A high-intensity, inexpensive and collimated x-ray source for applications such as x-ray lithography is disclosed. An intense pulse from a high power laser, stored in a high-finesse resonator, repetitively collides nearly head-on with and Compton backscatters off a bunched electron beam, having relatively low energy and circulating in a compact storage ring. Both the laser and the electron beams are tightly focused and matched at the interaction region inside the optical resonator. The laser-electron interaction not only gives rise to x-rays at the desired wavelength, but also cools and stabilizes the electrons against intrabeam scattering and Coulomb repulsion with each other in the storage ring. This cooling provides a compact, intense bunch of electrons suitable for many applications. In particular, a sufficient amount of x-rays can be generated by this device to make it an excellent and flexible Compton backscattered x-ray (CBX) source for high throughput x-ray lithography and many other applications.