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Vol. 13, No. 10 - April 2013
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From Director

PieroPianetta As we have communicated in several SSRL Headlines issues over the past year, SSRL has spent a significant effort to define our scientific priorities, strategic focus in key areas, and future plans. We have worked with many of you during this process, and sought and received feedback from our advisory committees. We are pleased to say that we have recently completed this endeavor and formalized our plans in a document - The SSRL Strategic Plan 2013. We welcome your comments - and participation in realizing it. It lays out our future plans for enhancements to the SPEAR3 accelerator, new and further evolved beam lines and facilities driven by science programs in energy materials, chemistry and catalysis, and structural molecular biology, and our approach to user support. The Plan was also an important instrument in our planning for the DOE Basic Energy Science Operations Budget Review, which is being performed for all synchrotron facilities this year; SSRL's turn was during April 11-12.

We continue to expand our user facilities - the latest being the new bending magnet beam line 14-3 for 2.1-5 keV energy x-ray absorption spectroscopy. This beam line has two stations in the same hutch: for microXAS imaging, and for regular, focused-beam XAS experiments. The microXAS imaging station is in user commissioning and has already produced excellent results at the sulfur and phosphorous K edges, while the goal for the second station is to finish the final commissioning by the end of this fiscal-year user run. This beam line brings back to SSRL the capability for phosphorous K-edge XAS for the first time since the SPEAR3 upgrade.

Finally - we are accelerating our planning for the joint 2013 SSRL/LCLS Users' Meeting and Workshops. We hope to see you here at SSRL during October 1-4, and will keep you informed as the scientific program evolves.

Science Highlights

Nanoscale Examination of Microdamage in Sheep Cortical BoneContacts: Garry R. Brock (Cornell University), Joy C. Andrews (SSRL), Marjolein C. H. van der Meulen (Cornell University)

A study, recently published in PLoS ONE by researchers from Cornell University, Hospital for Special Surgery, and SSRL, describes nanoscale visualization of micro-damage in cortical bone tissue using x-ray negative staining and synchrotron-based x-ray imaging. The first study to examine bone damage at the nanoscale using full-field x-ray imaging in cortical bone, it provides new insights into bone damage and propagation of fractures. The method itself could have future applications for visualization of damage at the nanoscale, leading to greater knowledge of skeletal damage mechanisms.

In the study, beams created from sheep bones were damaged by applying either a monotonic or a fatigue load, then stained with x-ray negative stains of lead-uranyl acetate and sectioned to 50-micron thickness, and the data obtained through full-field transmission x-ray microscopy (TXM) at SSRL Beam Line 6-2, creating nanoscale images of micro-damage throughout this thickness with 30-nm resolution.  Read more...

Allosteric Activation and Modulation of Pentameric Ligand-gated Ion ChannelsContact: Pei Tang (University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine)

Cys-loop receptors in eukaryotic cells control fast synaptic transmission and are important targets for various therapeutics which include general anesthetics. Although technical challenges have limited the determination of high-resolution structures for Cys-loop receptors, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have taken advantage of two homologous proteins: the pentameric ligand-gated ion channels (pLGICs) found in the bacterium Erwinia chrysanthemi (ELIC) and the cyanobacterium Gloebacter violaceus (GLIC). The researchers carried out crystallographic studies of these pLGICs on SSRL Beam Line 12-2, investigating the structural underpinnings of the pLGIC activation process and the structural basis of anesthetic modulation of pLGICs.  Read more


Search Process for SSRL and LCLS Directors Initiated

SLAC Director Chi-Chang Kao has recently announced that he has initiated the search processes for the Directors of SSRL and of LCLS.  A joint search committee has been appointed, and it is co-chaired by Norbert Holtkamp, SLAC's Associate Laboratory Director for the Accelerator Directorate, and Soichi Wakatsuki, Professor of Photon Science at SLAC and of Structural Biology at Stanford School of Medicine.  See the formal announcement.

Former SSRL Scientists in the News

Arthur Bienenstock Elected to AAAS


SSRL former Director Arthur Bienenstock is one of seven Stanford Faculty elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) 2013 class of members.  The Academy is one of the country's most prestigious honorary learned societies, and a leading center for independent policy research.

Artie has continued making many contributions to the science community in a number of capacities, since leaving the SSRL Directorship, including serving as Associate Director for Science, Office of Science and Technology Policy, from 1997 to 2001.  He is currently Professor Emeritus of Photon Science, Materials Science and Applied Physics, and is a special assistant to Stanford President John Hennessy for federal research policy, as well as Director of the Wallenberg Research Link at Stanford. Read more in SLAC Today.

Uwe Bergmann Named Interim Director of the LCLS


As announced earlier this year, Jo Stöhr is stepping down as the Director of the LCLS at the end of April.  SLAC Director Chi-Chang Kao has announced that Uwe Bergmann, who is currently serving as Deputy Director at LCLS, has agreed to take on the role on an interim basis while a search is being conducted for a permanent replacement.

Uwe is currently leading the development of the LUSI-II instrument proposal, a critical project for the future of LCLS.  While at LCLS, and at SSRL prior to 2009, he has made major contributions in the development of x-ray spectroscopy and novel applications of synchrotron radiation, specifically in the areas of chemistry, archeology and paleontology.

Upcoming Events

In-situ UV-visible Absorption Spectroscopy: An SSRL Macromolecular Crystallography Workshop

This May 7, 2013 workshop is an introduction to the SSRL fully automated, remote-access, in-situ UV-vis spectroscopy instrumentation, enabling combining spectroscopy and macromolecular crystallography, and available at SSRL Beam Lines 11-1 and 9-2. Lectures will highlight the importance of electronic information, through absorption spectroscopy, to structure analysis.  Attendees will learn about the capabilities and use of this system during hands-on sessions. Invited speakers include Arwen Pearson (University of Leeds), Edward Snell (HWI) and Vivian Stojanoff (NSLS). Tutors at the hands-on sessions include Aina Cohen (SSRL), Tzanko Doukov (SSRL) and Elena Kovaleva (University of Leeds).

Attendees may bring crystals for absorption measurements during the workshop (stored in SSRL cassettes or uni-pucks).

Attendance is limited. To register please send an email to Lisa Dunn.

SSRL/LCLS Annual Users' Conference and Workshops – October 1-4, 2013

Plans for our upcoming October 1-4 Users’ Conference are well underway. Please mark your calendars to join us for a line-up of workshops, science talks and a poster session geared for exploring new opportunities at SSRL and LCLS and highlighting the excellent science that is already being done at both.  Workshop topics under discussion include:

•  Atomic, Molecular Optical (AMO) Science

•  Synchrotron Techniques in Metal Biogeochemistry: Across Time and Spatial Scales

•  Carbon

•  Early Career Scientist Associate Forum

•  Exploring an Inverse Compton Source (ICS) at SLAC

•  MicroXAS Imaging with SSRL’s New 2-5 keV Beam Line 14-3

•  LCLS Detector & Data Analysis

•  New Directions for High-Energy Density (HED) Physics at the Matter in Extreme Conditions Instrument

•  Software for Serial Crystallography Data Analysis

•  Soft X-ray (SXR) Science

•  Time Resolved Experiments at SSRL using Low Alpha Mode

•  Toward a Modular Framework for Light Source Experiment Simulation

•  Using X-rays to Study Cultural Heritage

•  X-ray Spectroscopy for Chemical Catalysis

Stay tuned for registration details!

User Research Administration Update

Upcoming Proposal Deadlines

  • June 1, 2013 for beam time on SSRL X-ray/VUV lines beginning fall 2013
  • July 1, 2013 for beam time on SSRL Macromolecular Crystallography lines beginning fall 2013
  • July 9, 2013 for beam time on LCLS instruments/beam lines for Run 9 beginning spring 2014
Please submit proposals through our User Portal.

Inform Us of Publications

SSRL provides technical tools for world-leading science at no charge for scientists who conduct non-proprietary research, with the understanding that significant results are to be publicly disseminated. Scientists must acknowledge use of the facility in presentations and publications and must inform the facility of all publications, theses, awards, patents and other forms of recognition resulting from research conducted fully or partially at SSRL. These metrics of scientific achievements and productivity are extremely important to the facility and to funding agencies. Please contact us as results are about to be published so that we can work with you to more broadly communicate your research. More information and acknowledgement statements can be found on our publications page.


SSRL Headlines is published electronically monthly to inform SSRL users, sponsors and other interested people about happenings at SSRL. SSRL is a national synchrotron user facility operated for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences by Stanford University. Additional support for the SSRL Structural Molecular Biology Program is provided by the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research, and by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Center for Research Resources. Additional information about SSRL and its operation and schedules is available from the SSRL web site.

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Questions? Comments? Contact Lisa Dunn