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Vol. 12, No. 11 - May 2012
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From Director Chi-Chang Kao

I attended the "X-rays in the Fourth Dimension" workshop organized by the Advanced Photon Source earlier in May. Although it has been less than a year from the "Time Resolved X-Ray Science at High Repetition Rate" workshop held at the SSRL/LCLS user conference last fall, there has been significant development in sources, including demonstration of self-seeding at LCLS and hybrid low-alpha mode at SSRL. This latest workshop again generated many novel new ideas in science, and accelerator improvements that will lead to exciting new developments in the coming years.

At SSRL, we are continuing to work with the user community to explore this new opportunity. Recently, the Stanford Institute for Materials & Energy Science (SIMES) and SSRL jointly funded a second fiber laser, which should be available for the next user run starting in October. We will also discuss with the Scientific Advisory Committee and User Organization Executive Committee in the coming months on scheduling more timing operations.

Some of you probably have heard the news that Cynthia Friend, the Photon Science Associate Laboratory Director at SLAC, has decided to go back to Harvard University so that she can devote more time to research and teaching. We are sorry to lose her, and thank her for what she contributed to SLAC. I have agreed to step in as the acting Director for Photon Science. This is only a temporary assignment until a permanent replacement is named. I will remain as the Director for SSRL.

I feel I can take on this additional responsibility for a short time because SSRL is in a good place right now, having a strategy in place for our short- and long-term growth and a strong leadership team to help me on a day-to-day basis. Serving in this dual capacity will also help me find greater opportunities to enhance the synergy between SSRL and Photon Science.

  Science Highlights

Beam Line 4-3 Rescues Ancient Warships
Nearly 400 years ago, the Swedish warship Vasa sank on its maiden voyage. In 260 BCE, a Roman warship with its bronze naval ram, sank after battle off the coast of Sicily. And in 1545, the flagship of Henry VIII's navy, the Mary Rose, sank outside of Portsmouth while maneuvering to engage the French fleet.

All of these magnificent historical artifacts have been pulled from the sea and are now featured in museums around the world, where they are viewed by hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. But now they face a new battle. Sulfur that preserved the wood underwater, introduced by anaerobic marine bacteria, now poses a threat. Exposed to oxygen, the sulfur is slowly converting to sulfuric acid, which destroys the wood.

Using SSRL Beam Line 4-3, a team of SSRL and University of Palermo researchers measured x-ray spectra of the sulfur inside wooden sections of the Roman ram, revealing the kinds of sulfur hidden within.

Extreme Biological Sulfur K-edge Spectroscopy
The continuous advancement of x-ray spectroscopic techniques allows for probing the structure of biological machineries for smaller samples in more dilute concentrations and thus for asking tough scientific questions about problems that have not been possible in the past. Careful biochemical preparation and systematic analytical characterization resulted in galactose oxidase samples that could be interrogated by x-rays. This metalloenzyme contains a copper at its active site that is coordinated to a cross-linked tyrosine and cysteine ligand, both of which are essential to convert alcohols and sugars to their oxidized aldehyde forms by oxygen molecules. The remarkable feature of this reaction is that it is selective and does not result in formation of carboxylates (a form of vinegar).

It has been a long standing question in the scientific literature of how the active site of galactose oxidase can tame its reactivity. Using the synchrotron facilities at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, a research group from Montana State University led by Robert K. Szilagyi joined the effort of putting together the pieces of this tantalizing puzzle.

  • SSRL Workshop on XAS and RIXS Data Analysis Using CTM4XAS and CTM4RIXS, June 28-29
    Prof. Frank de Groot, Utrecht University, will present a two-day comprehensive lecture and hands-on analysis session on XAS charge transfer multiplets using CTM4XAS, which is a semi-empirical program that includes important interactions for the calculation of x-ray spectra of transition metal systems. The workshop will feature XAS, MCD, XPS and XES data analysis with CTM4XAS. In addition, CTM4RIXS, an interactive tool to calculate and visualize resonant inelastic x-ray scattering spectra, including 2p3d, 3p3d, 1s2p and 1s3p RIXS spectra, will be used. The lecture and hands-on analysis will be held on June 28. Prof. de Groot will address participant-driven topics and address specific scientific problems on the 29th. The course is free to participants, but space is limited. Advanced registration is required by June 6, 2012. More information is available at the workshop site.

  • Structural Molecular Biology Summer School 2012, July 16-20
    The Structural Molecular Biology Summer School 2012 will be held at SSRL from July 16-20 and will focus on the following disciplines: Macromolecular Crystallography, Small Angle X-ray Scattering, X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy, Fluorescence XAS Imaging and X-ray Emission Spectroscopy. The five-day summer school will include invited lectures by experts in the field, hands-on data acquisition, and practical training session for data analysis. The goal of the summer school is to disseminate information about scientific opportunities in synchrotron techniques applicable to biologically-relevant systems and to train the participants at both the beginner and expert levels to successfully plan, execute and report their research at SSRL. Space is limited and advanced application is mandatory. More information is available at: SMB Summer School 2012.

  • Save the Date: LCLS/SSRL Users' Meeting, October 3-6
    In response to user feedback, the 2012 Users' Meeting will include joint SSRL/LCLS parallel science sessions and many opportunities for students to present their work. The organizers encourage your suggestions for workshop topics and speakers who would draw in the larger photon science community to explore new opportunities for SSRL and the Linac Coherent Light Source. Tell us what would make this meeting a great one by e-mailing
    Cathy Knotts . In addition, we encourage and will reserve slots for student talks; start planning your talk today. Stay tuned for registration details.

  • Upcoming Proposal Deadlines
    July 1 is the next deadline for submitting Macromolecular Crystallography proposals. Proposals submitted for this deadline will be eligible for beam time beginning in fall 2012. For a full list of upcoming deadlines please see the SSRL deadlines webpage.

  • Coffee Anyone?
    Users coming to SSRL for beam time will notice a new addition to the Building 120 kitchen. We now have a Pronto Cafe vending machine that features a variety of cappuccino, espresso and latte selections as well as regular and decaf coffee.

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 website.

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Questions? Comments? Contact Lisa Dunn