SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
LCLS
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LCLS Proposal Management

Proposal Preparation | Regular Proposal Review | PCS Proposal Review | MEC Optical-Laser-Only Proposal Review | Other LCLS Policies


SUBMIT NEW PROPOSALS BY 4 pm PACIFIC on February 3, 2015. View the latest long range operating schedule.

SUBMIT NEW PROTEIN CRYSTAL SCREENING PROPOSALS BY 4 pm PACIFIC on May 12, 2014 See PCS details.

Check back later for details related to OPTICAL-LASER-ONLY PROPOSALS for the MEC instrument

There is no cost to submit proposals or conduct experiments at LCLS. However, experimenters are responsible for their own travel expenses and for the costs of non-standard chemicals and supplies purchased while at SLAC. Each proposal is for one specific experiment. Proposals can be re-submitted at each call, but this will not happen automatically and a re-submission will not receive preference during the review process. There is no limit to the number of proposals that can be submitted by a scientist or team, but multiple similar proposals from the same team members may not be reviewed favorably by the Proposal Review Panel (PRP). Review the proposal process below, collect the required information, and submit your proposal early to avoid a last-minute crisis at the proposal cutoff time. The proposal deadline is strictly enforced: 4 PM Pacific Time. LCLS proposal review policies describe in detail the process that LCLS management uses to review, select and schedule experiments. See other policies.

Users are encouraged to contact LCLS scientists to discuss technical capabilities and proposed experiments. As you plan your next proposals and experiments, note that we have demonstrated FEL operations over the energy range 280 eV to 10 keV using the fundamental with pulse energies of at least 1-3 mJ depending on the pulse duration. This extended energy range down to 280 eV will be available for the 2013-2014 runs. Third harmonic radiation is available up to 25 keV at about 1% of the fundamental pulse energy. The pulse length can be varied from 40 fs to 300 fs for hard X-rays, while for soft X-rays the range is extended to 500 fs. Shorter pulses, <10 fs, with a reduced number of photons per pulse can also be provided. The maximum repetition rate of the LCLS is 120 Hz.

We expect to offer the option of the self-seeded mode beginning in Run 7. Since January 2012, LCLS has been testing the use of a diamond crystal monochromator located part way down the FEL undulator to produce self-seeded pulses of hard X-rays. The tests have successfully demonstrated seeding of very short FEL pulses, though R&D is continuing. It is anticipated that self-seeded operation may be advantageous to some user experiments, and that by early 2013 LCLS will be in a position to reliably offer self-seeded operation to users in an exploratory mode. In general, experiments that use the full bandwidth of the SASE FEL pulse can expect better machine reliability and significantly greater energy per pulse by continuing to operate in SASE (unseeded) mode. Also, seeded operation is not yet available for soft X-ray experiments. However, hard X-ray experiments (7.1-9.5 keV) that require the use of a crystal monochromator can expect increased energy per pulse in self-seeded mode. Currently the self-seeded mode is limited to unfocused X-ray beams (LCLS is working to address issues related to focused beams). Typical parameters for the self-seeded pulses are:

  • Photon energy: 7.1-9.5 keV
  • Fractional bandwidth: 1 x 10-4 (30 times smaller than the SASE bandwidth)
  • Maximum pulse energy: about 0.5 mJ
  • Average pulse energy: 0.1 mJ
  • Shot-shot energy fluctuations: 100%
  • Pulse duration: < 50 fs
  • Expected tune-up time: 2-4 hrs

We further envision to reach energies down to 5.5 keV with a larger bandwidth using an asymmetric C(111) Laue reflection.

Regular Proposal Preparation Guidelines

SUBMIT NEW PROPOSALS BY 4 pm PACIFIC on February 3, 2015. View the latest long range operating schedule

The technical capabilities of the LCLS are still developing rapidly. LCLS operations will continue to evolve over the next few years, and we appreciate the flexibility of the user community as we work to accommodate developments, infrastructure improvements, and construction into our operations plan. LCLS provides updated information about instruments and operating parameters in calls for proposals and on the LCLS web site for the benefit of those preparing experiment proposals. Until we can reach a steady-state of operations, we will only be able to post the call for proposals and operating schedules 6-12 months in advance.

A call for proposals is generally made twice each year approximately 6 months before the run is scheduled to begin. In the call for proposals, we recommend that scientists describe well-posed experiments that can be accomplished in ~24-60 hours of beam time. Proposals must include brief discussions of the expected scientific or technological impact and anticipated feasibility and probability of success of experiments.

Proposals are written for a single run, but they may involve a much larger scope. All proposals, even these broader proposals that address important problems, must be resubmitted each cycle in order to be peer reviewed and considered for beam time. However, in the absence of sufficient information to evaluate progress (data disseminated from previous beam time, publications, etc.), the PRP may recommend or LCLS may decide that some proposal(s) be postponed for consideration until a future review cycle.

LCLS proposals are submitted through the User Portal

Provide a descriptive title of your proposed experiment that you would be willing to be made public if awarded beam time.

Provide an abstract that concisely (less than 1,950 characters) summarizes the proposed experiment, quantities to be measured, samples to be studied, expected scientific results and impact. The more detailed proposal text is limited to 6 pages in PDF format and should include the following information (include the spokesperson's name in the upper right hand corner of each page):

  1. Experimental Team: In a table, list the names, institution, email address of PIs and collaborators who would participate in the proposed experiment (e.g., sample prep, theory, data collection, data analysis). This section could also briefly mention directly-relevant previous work done by the team members.
  2. Scientific Case: Briefly explain the background and significance of your experiment. In particular, why is LCLS required for this experiment? Itemize the specific aims and particular questions you want to answer. Focus on the specific experiment and avoid broad discussions in general terms.
  3. Experimental Procedure: Provide specific information so that the feasibility of this experiment at the requested LCLS instrument can be evaluated. Tell us if you plan or have carried out supporting experiments at other facilities. Have simulations of the experiment been performed? What are the anticipated data rates? Provide a beam time plan, indicating what could be accomplished in less than 1 week (approximately 60 hours of beam time). Describe any additional equipment you plan to bring to LCLS for the experiment. We strongly recommend that you contact LCLS instrument scientist(s) before proposal submission to discuss capabilities, to identify possible problems in integrating external equipment with the LCLS facility and to determine possible solutions. (See policy on endstations.)
  4. Technical Feasibility: Proposals must contain sufficient information for the LCLS to review the proposal for technical feasibility. This information should include:
    • Equipment
      Which elements of the proposed instrument do you require for the proposal?
      What additional equipment is needed, including laser, detector, sample delivery/environment, temperature, pressure, etc?
      How do you plan to provide/organize the additional equipment?
    • Parameters
      Describe X-ray wavelength, pulse energy, bandwidth, beam size, repetition rate, pulse duration
      If laser is required, describe laser wavelength, pulse energy, bandwidth, beam size, repetition rate, pulse duration, timing, geometry.
    • Experimental protocol
      Describe the experimental geometry.
      Calculate the expected signal rate/background.
      Describe samples and concentrations, sample preparation and storage.
      Describe local facilities that may be required.
  5. Progress Report When submitting a new proposal, also upload a brief progress report summarizing proposal that have previously received LCLS beam time; include proposal number(s), date(s) of experiment, instrument(s) used, a brief summary of how experiment time was used and results disseminated (list major invited talks, papers published or in press, awards or special recognition). NOTE: User publications are extremely important in demonstrating the scientific impact of LCLS. Proposal teams must inform and acknowledge LCLS and the DOE Office of Science in presentations and publications using this template: "Use of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515."
  6. Addenda: New information that becomes available after the proposal was submitted may be submitted up to two weeks before the scheduled Proposal Review Panel (PRP). Addenda is limited to one page and must be consistent with the original scope of the proposal. LCLS management will determine if the supplemental information meets the criteria to forward such material to the PRP. Forward addenda to the LCLS Proposal Administrator (nbrown@slac.stanford.edu). NOTE: PRP dates are posted on the LCLS Events webpageLCLS Events webpage

* Safety related documents must be submitted during the safety management portion of the LCLS proposal submission process in the user portal. List and describe any safety concerns that may arise with samples you will examine, equipment you will use, or techniques you will perform (including any physical, chemical or biological hazards) and how these issues will be addressed in the experiment design.

Protein Crystal Screening Proposal Preparation Guidelines

SUBMIT NEW PROTEIN CRYSTAL SCREENING PROPOSALS BY 4 pm PACIFIC on May 12, 2014.
View the latest long range operating schedule.

The LCLS Protein Crystal Screening (PCS) program aims to enable increased access to LCLS beamtime for biological structure determination by making use of short 6-hour runs to screen the quality of different sample preparations or potentially collect a full data set under good running conditions. To enable measurements within such a short time frame and maximize efficiency and the chances of success, these studies must be carried out with limited flexibility to minimize the time impact of setup changes. The following configurations are expected to be supported for PCS in this current call for proposals: gas dynamic virtual nozzle (GDVN) liquid jet system and fixed targets in vacuum at CXI. Other liquid jet systems supplied by user groups compatible with the basic CXI system will also be considered if the schedule allows it and at the discretion of the LCLS facility. Furthermore atmospheric pressure measurements on fixed targets using a goniometer system at XPP are expected to be available. Measurements using other demonstrated atmospheric pressure sample delivery techniques can be considered if the schedule allows it and at the discretion of the LCLS facility. Schedule constraints are unpredictable and no guarantees can be made that any of the mentioned experimental setups will be available for PCS in any given run.

LCLS is seeking proposals for PCS beamtime to be awarded during LCLS Run 10, expected to be between October 2014 and March 2015.

PCS at CXI

PCS experiments at CXI are intended to be carried out using the standard CXI configurations, either using the 1um or 100nm focus depending on scheduling constraints and at the discretion of the LCLS facility. User-supplied sample delivery systems or modifications to the existing system can be allowable only if they are compatible with the existing systems and can be exchanged with the other systems used for PCS beamtime within a time frame compatible with 6-hour runs and rapid turnaround between groups. Decisions on using alternative sample delivery systems will be entirely at the discretion of the LCLS facility.

PCS at XPP

PCS experiments at atmospheric pressure are expected to be available. To date, the home of such experiments has been the XPP instrument with a goniometer system allowing scanning of fixed-mounted crystals. The system can also be modified in principle for use of a variety of atmospheric pressure sample delivery systems. The availability of all these systems will depend on scheduling constraints and be entirely at the discretion of the LCLS facility.

Other Experimental Geometries or Capabilities

Time-resolved studies and spectroscopy are currently not within the possible scope of PCS beam time.

Proposal Review and Beamtime Award

These PCS proposals will be reviewed by the PRP BIO-C panel separately from the regular proposals. It is desirable to shorten the period between PCS proposal submission and beam time allocation to maximize flexibility and the ability to be reactive to novel samples or ideas. LCLS will aim to pre-allocate blocks of beamtime either on CXI or XPP based on the overall demand. The expected amount of beamtime is on the order of 2 blocks of 10x6 hours shifts in every LCLS run. All PCS proposals will get a numerical rank from the BIO-C panel. A suitable number of proposals will be awarded beam time by the LCLS facility based on the advice of the Proposal Review Panel. Successful proposals will be scheduled according to sample readiness and technical feasibility evaluation by LCLS staff scientists. A minimum 2 month notice will be given to the selected user groups to allow for appropriate preparation. Depending on the run schedule, alternative setups might be scheduled separately or not be possible at all.

Overlap with Regular LCLS Proposals

There is no restriction with regards to possible overlap or redundancy with regular LCLS proposals. Submission of PCS proposals similar or related to regular LCLS proposals are encouraged and will not adversely impact the rankings of either types of proposals. Regular LCLS proposals that do not receive beamtime may be considered for PCS if deemed suitable.

Proposal Format

PCS proposals follow a similar format as regular proposals, but must be submitted separately.

If the PCS proposal is related to one or more regular LCLS proposals that have been submitted or already received beam time, state this in the proposal. Provide a status update if you have had PCS beamtime before or regular beamtime for the same samples.

PCS proposals are limited to a two-page PDF, including references, figures, and sufficient information to evaluate the impact, originality, need for LCLS, scientific risk, prior results, as well as technical feasibility. Please log in to the user portal to submit your PCS proposals (separately from the regular proposal submission).

Provide a descriptive title of your proposed experiment that you would be willing to be made public if awarded beam time.

Provide a brief abstract that concisely summarizes the proposed screening (include abstract in proposal PDF).

Include the following information in the proposal text (include the spokesperson's name in the upper right hand corner of each page). The proposal text is limited to 2 pages in PDF format, not including 1-page progress reports of previous beam time which can be uploaded separately. Pages should have at least 1 inch margins and not less than 10 pt font.

Include the following information in the proposal text (include the spokesperson's name in the upper right hand corner of each page). The proposal text is limited to 2 pages in PDF format, not including 1-page progress reports of previous beam time which can be uploaded separately. Pages should have at least 1 inch margins and not less than 10 pt font.

  1. Abstract: Provide a brief abstract that concisely summarizes the proposed screening.
  2. Experimental Team: In a table, list the names, institution, email address of PIs and collaborators who would participate in the proposed experiment (e.g., sample prep, theory, data collection, data analysis). This section could also briefly mention directly-relevant previous work done by the team members.
  3. Scientific Case: Briefly explain the background and significance of your experiment. In particular, why is LCLS required for this experiment? Itemize the specific aims and particular questions you want to answer. Focus on the specific experiment and avoid broad discussions in general terms.
  4. Experimental Procedure: Provide specific information so that the feasibility of this experiment at the requested LCLS instrument can be evaluated. Tell us if you plan or have carried out supporting experiments at other facilities. Provide a beam time plan, indicating what could be accomplished in less than 6 hours of beam time. Describe any additional equipment you plan to bring to LCLS for the experiment. We strongly recommend that you contact LCLS Scientist Sebastien Boutet (sboutet@SLAC.Stanford.EDU) before proposal submission to discuss capabilities, to identify possible problems in integrating external equipment with the LCLS facility and to determine possible solutions.
  5. Technical Feasibility:  Proposals must contain sufficient information for the LCLS to review the proposal for technical feasibility. This information should include:
    • Equipment
      Which elements of the proposed instrument do you require for the proposal?
      What additional equipment is needed, including laser, detector, sample delivery/environment, temperature, pressure, etc.?
      How do you plan to provide/organize the additional equipment?
    • Parameters
      Describe X-ray wavelength, pulse energy, bandwidth, beam size, repetition rate, pulse duration.
    • Experimental protocol
      Describe the experimental geometry.
      Describe samples and concentrations, sample preparation and storage.
      Describe local facilities that may be required.

* Safety related documents must be submitted during the safety management portion of the LCLS proposal submission process in the user portal. List and describe any safety concerns that may arise with samples you will examine, equipment you will use, or techniques you will perform (including any physical, chemical or biological hazards) and how these issues will be addressed in the experiment design.

MEC Optical-laser-only Proposal Preparation Guidelines

Check back later for details related to OPTICAL-LASER-ONLY PROPOSALS for the MEC instrument

The LCLS MEC Optical-laser-only program aims to enable users to get access to LCLS MEC laser systems, target chamber and diagnostics, but without the LCLS x-ray beam. Optical-laser -only experiments may lead to an LCLS x-ray beamtime proposal. Special consideration will be given to:

  • High Energy Density Plasma Science
  • Preliminary experiments leading to LCLS X-ray Proposal
  • Proposals linked to experiments on the Jupiter Laser Facility

The optical-laser-only beamtimes will have allocations of a maximum of two weeks per experiment. For this call addressing the period from April 2014 to December 2014, we anticipate accepting two or more proposals because of the number of x-ray experiments scheduled and expected at MEC. SLAC scientists are not eligible for this proposal call.

Proposed experiments can use either the MEC nanosecond or femtosecond laser system. The MEC nanosecond laser system provides up to 30 J of energy. The MEC femtosecond laser system is undergoing an upgrade. For this proposal call, it is anticipated that the femtosecond laser system will be capable of delivering 1 J of energy in 40 fs duration. Additional information about the MEC instrument is available at https://portal.slac.stanford.edu/sites/lcls_public/Instruments/mec/Pages/default.aspx. We strongly recommend that you contact one of the LCLS-MEC Scientists Hae Ja Lee (haelee@SLAC.Stanford.EDU), Bob Nagler (bnagler@SLAC.Stanford.EDU), Eduardo Granados (granados@SLAC.Stanford.EDU) or Phil Heimann (paheim@SLAC.Stanford.EDU) before proposal submission to discuss capabilities, to identify possible problems in integrating external equipment with the LCLS facility and to determine possible solutions.

Proposal Review: The MEC optical-laser-only proposals will be reviewed by members of the MEC sub-panel of the LCLS Proposal Review Panel. This review is separate from the regular LCLS x-ray proposals review process. The review criteria of LCLS proposals can be found here.

Proposal Submission: MEC optical-laser-only proposals follow a similar format to the regular LCLS x-ray proposals but must be submitted separately. Please log in to the user portal to submit your MEC optical-laser-only proposal. The user portal has step-by-step instructions for the proposal submission.

Proposal Format: Provide a descriptive title of your proposed experiment that you would be willing to be made public if awarded beam time. Provide a brief abstract that concisely summarizes the proposed experiment, which will be included in the proposal PDF. If it is anticipated that the optical-laser-only proposal will lead to an LCLS x-ray proposal, state this in the proposal. Optical-laser-only proposals are limited to four pages, including references, figures, and sufficient information to evaluate the scientific goal, originality, risk, prior results, as well as technical feasibility.

Include the following information in the proposal text (include the spokesperson's name in the upper right hand corner of each page). Pages should have at least 1 inch margins and not less than 10 pt font. Remember that the proposal text is limited to 4 pages in PDF format.

  • Abstract: Provide a brief abstract that concisely summarizes the proposed experiment.
  • Experimental Team: In a table, list the names, institution, email address of PIs and collaborators who would participate in the proposed experiment e.g., sample prep, theory, data collection, data analysis. This section should briefly mention directly-relevant previous work done by the team members.
  • Scientific Case: Briefly explain the background and significance of your experiment. Itemize the specific aims and particular questions you want to answer. Focus on the specific experiment and avoid broad discussions in general terms.
  • Experimental Procedure: Provide specific information so that the feasibility of this experiment at the LCLS MEC instrument can be evaluated. Tell us if you plan or have carried out related experiments at other facilities. Have simulations of the experiment been performed? What are the anticipated data rates? Provide a beam time plan, indicating what could be accomplished in the beamtime including setup. Describe any additional equipment you plan to bring to LCLS for the experiment.
  • Technical Feasibility: Proposals must contain sufficient information for the LCLS and the reviewers of the proposal to evaluate technical feasibility. This information should include:
    • Equipment
      Which elements of the MEC instrument do you require for the proposal?
      What additional equipment is needed, including laser, detector, sample delivery/environment, temperature, pressure, etc.? 
      How do you plan to provide/organize the additional equipment?
    • Parameters
      Describe the laser wavelength, pulse energy, bandwidth, beam size, repetition rate, pulse duration and geometry.
    • Experimental protocol
      Describe the experimental geometry.
      Calculate the expected signal rate/background.
      Describe samples and concentrations, sample preparation and storage.
      Describe local facilities that may be required.

* Safety related documents must be submitted during the safety management portion of the LCLS proposal submission process in the user portal. List and describe any safety concerns that may arise with samples you will examine, equipment you will use, or techniques you will perform. This includes any physical, chemical or biological hazards and how these issues will be addressed in the experiment design.

Proposal Review Process

LCLS management works very closely with the LCLS Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), Proposal Review Panel (PRP) and the Users' Executive Committee (UEC) to develop a fair and transparent external peer review process. LCLS proposal review and ranking is carried out by the Proposal Review Panel (PRP), which includes ~ 80 international experts divided into several subpanels: Atomic, Molecular, Optical and Cluster Physics (AMO); Crystallographic Structure Determination of Biological Objects (BIO-C); X-ray Scattering, Spectroscopy, or Single Particle Imaging of Biological Objects (BIO-S);Chemistry and Materials-Soft Condensed Matter (CHEM/SCM); Materials-Hard Condense Matter (HCM); High Energy Density Science/Matter in Extreme Conditions (MEC); and Methods and Instrumentation (M&I). A description of the proposal review process follows.

The proposal review process begins as soon as each call for proposals is closed, with an on-site PRP meeting at SLAC approximately two months after the proposal deadline. Concurrent with the PRP review, LCLS scientists conduct a technical feasibility review of submitted proposals. Proposals determined not to be feasible may be removed from further consideration before the PRP meets, and the proposal spokesperson will be informed.

Users indicate the appropriate PRP panel(s) to review their proposals when submitting proposals through the user portal. Proposals are briefly reviewed by LCLS and the PRP Chairs to confirm that the distribution of proposals is appropriate for the expertise of the PRP or to reassign these proposals to more appropriate subpanels to facilitate consistency in the review and ranking process. Once the subpanel assignments are confirmed, the PRP chairs assign 2-3 reviewers for each proposal assigned to their subpanel. Additional reviews may be requested from other panels if the area of science extends beyond the primary subpanel. If the PRP lacks the necessary expertise to review any proposal, subpanel chairs may request ad hoc external peer reviewers to supplement the PRP review. Each reviewer is asked to evaluate their assigned proposals using the following criteria:

  • Scientific Impact: Does the proposal address a question that, if successfully answered by the proposed experiment, will have a strong impact on the scientific field or technological area addressed by the research?
  • Originality/New Scientific Field: If successful, does the proposal open or stimulate research in a new field?
  • Need for LCLS/Experimental Plans: To what extent is the LCLS critical for the success of this proposal? Can other techniques or facilities provide similar information about the scientific question?
  • Scientific Risk: Evaluate the probability that the proposed research will yield significant new results.
  • Prior Results: Evaluate success or progress of prior related experiments.

In time for the PRP meeting reviewers provide a written review for each assigned proposal summarizing their findings.

Subpanel chairs will assign a 'Lead Reviewer' for each proposal who will present the proposal during the subpanel deliberations. Within one week of the PRP meeting the subpanel chairs will provide comments for each criteria as well as general comments with sufficient detail to explain the ranking and assist the proposal teams to address any deficiencies and improve their proposals for a subsequent review cycle. LCLS might edit these comments for grammar and style only.

The PRP meetings will generally follow this outline:

Day 1: The PRP will meet for a brief plenary session with updates related to the latest machine or instrument parameters, policy changes, and a 'charge' to the committee outlining the review process. Throughout the PRP meeting, LCLS management and scientific staff will be available "on call" to answer questions from the PRP related to capabilities, technical feasibility or safety.

The PRP will break into subpanels. The subpanels will evaluate the proposals and develop a ranked list of their best ~30% of proposals. Ideally at the end of Day 1 or as soon as the subpanel has completed their list, the subpanel chair will circulate their top 30% list to the other subpanels and to LCLS management. Interaction among the subpanels is encouraged if there are proposals that relate to more than one area.

Day 2: If needed, the subpanels might use the morning hours to finish their ranking. In addition to the relative ranking, the subpanel chairs will provide information on the relative quality of the proposals. (For example: the top three ranked proposals are very similar in quality, the fourth and fifth have a large gap to the top three, etc.). The PRP Chair, subpanel chairs and vice chairs meet for a joint session where all the top ranked proposals will be briefly described, and the subpanel chairs explain the rationale for their ranking. The proposals are then combined into an overall ranking according to pro rata.

Also present during the combined session will be the LCLS Deputy Director (responsible for the PRP process), LCLS administrators for assisting with the pro rata scheme and Ingolf Lindau (LCLS PRP advisor). The chairs of the LCLS Scientific Advisor Committee and User Organization Executive Committee are invited as observers.

The ranked list of proposals will be the guide for LCLS management to reward beam time. LCLS has the discretion to consider aspects beyond the strict ranking to make the final beam time allocation. Such consideration may include the increase of diversity, equalize access to new instruments, new emerging areas of science, funding restrictions and other aspects.






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