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Vol. 14, No. 1 - July 2013
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From the Director - SSRL:  40 Years Down and Many More to Go


Over the past month we have been treated to several nice articles commemorating the 40th year of synchrotron radiation research at SLAC –starting with the first light out of SPEAR on July 6, 1973 at 10:42 AM, with SPEAR running at 1.5 GeV and 23.5 mA. The logbook entry from that date states “The picture shows the vertical mask completely open, and the sync. light in there – right in the middle of the Be-foil”; from there we were off and running! As we all know, the field has grown tremendously over the past 40 years, both at SLAC and around the world, with ever-improving photon source properties and new applications that have impacted all our lives.

It’s always fun to look back but more exciting still to look forward and ask: what are the new contributions that we can make this year and in the future?  What capabilities can we provide to spur innovative endeavors not yet even imagined? As we end another successful run year, we can get a hint of what we might expect for next year from some of the work we have planned for the upcoming fall shutdown. We will be installing two new undulators into SPEAR3. The first is an elliptically polarizing undulator for BL5 that, coupled with a new monochromator and end station equipped with a molecular beam epitaxy system, will provide an expanded energy range to study new classes of correlated materials with spin-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy. The second undulator will provide high brightness x-rays to our existing Advanced Spectroscopy station, currently on BL6-2, when it has been moved to its new home on BL15. The new undulator will allow the study of smaller and more dilute samples, in research ranging from the inner workings of lithium ion batteries to understanding the mechanisms of photosynthesis.  Design work is underway for a third beam line based on a new bending magnet source targeted for metrology and optics studies. A new alcove will be constructed between Beam Lines 6 and 12 during the summer of 2014 to house this beam line. Additionally, a number of end station upgrades are being planned to greatly expand the capabilities we will be able to provide to our users.

With all the beam line work going on, we can’t forget what else is being done on the accelerator side of the shielding wall. One of our major upgrade activities is geared towards improving the emittance of SPEAR3 from 10 to 6 nm-radians, which ultimately translates into more photons on the sample in a smaller spot. Although we have obtained proof of principle during accelerator physics studies, we will need new hardware to put this mode of operation into production at 500 mA. The necessary design work is underway and we hope to start building the new components in the coming year.

We look forward to the turning-on of these new capabilities and the new science that they will enable.

Science Highlights


Using X-rays to Find an Evolutionary Step in the Origin of Oxygenic PhotosynthesisContact: Jena E. Johnson, California Institute of Technology

For most modern-day terrestrial life, oxygen has become indispensable. At the heart of oxygenic photosynthesis is the production of oxygen from water – a process mediated by the water-splitting manganese cluster of Photosystem II. Little is known about how oxygenic photosynthesis originally evolved, although some have hypothesized a manganese-oxidizing photosystem as a precursor step. Read more...


Structure of Human Argonaute2: A Programmable RibonucleaseContacts: Nicole T. Schirle and Ian J. MacRae, The Scripps Research Institute

Argonaute proteins play an important role in the biological process of RNA interference (RNAi).  Scientists have now determined the crystal structure of human Argonaute2, thereby making progress toward a detailed understanding of Ago2 interactions with target RNA which may benefit the design of novel RNAi therapeutics. Read more...


Structure of the DUF2233 Domain in Bacteria and the Stuttering-associated UCE GlycoproteinContact: Debanu Das, JCSG, SSRL Structural Genomics

UCE plays a key role in the functioning of lysosomes, cellular sacs full of digestive enzymes that break down bacteria, viruses and worn-out cell parts for recycling. When this recycling process goes awry, it can cause rare metabolic diseases such as Tay-Sachs and Gaucher, which often cause death in affected children by their early teens. Three years ago, researchers discovered that three mutations in UCE itself were linked to persistent stuttering that is passed down in families. Read more...


Crystal Structure and Functional Analysis Identify Evolutionary Secret of SerRS in Vascular DevelopmentContact: Xianglei Yang, The Scripps Research Institute

During evolution, organisms added new domains to tRNA synthetases, which are believed to enable additional functions beyond protein synthesis. For the very first time researchers have established an essential role for an appended domain of tRNA synthetase in organisms. Read more...

More Science News

Stanford Scientists Break Record for Thinnest Light-absorber
July 18, 2013 Stanford Report Article by Mark Shwartz

Stanford University scientists have created the thinnest, most efficient absorber of visible light on record. The nanosize structure, thousands of times thinner than an ordinary sheet of paper, could lower the cost and improve the efficiency of solar cells, according to the scientists. Read more...

Beam Line Update

Beam Line 14-3 Commissioning Progress

This has been an exciting year for Beam Line 14-3, one of the newest beam lines to come online at SSRL. BL14-3 is a dual-use bending magnet branch line. The hutch contains two experimental stations. The front table houses a “bulk” x-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) station, and the rear table is home to a K-B optics microXAS imaging station. The novelty of BL14-3 is the beam line's energy range, which spans from 2.1-5 keV. This allows users to reach the K-edges of important elements such as P, S and Cl, as well as the L-edges of elements such as Ag, Cd, and Te.

MicroXAS experiments, using a 5 micron microfocus, will continue in user-assisted commissioning mode through August 5, the end of SSRL's FY2013 experimental run. This commissioning phase has been quite successful with many user projects already greatly benefitting from the new experimental capabilities.

Be sure to attend the upcoming SSRL User's Meeting Workshop, "MicroXAS Imaging with SSRL's New 2-5 keV Beam Line 14-3" on October 1 to learn more about using these new capabilities.  In the meantime, Beam Time Requests for both microprobe and “bulk” beam time are due August 15 (see below for details).

Upcoming Events

Annual Users' Conference October 1-4, 2013

Join us at our Annual Users' Conference October 1-4 for an exciting line-up of workshops, science talks and a poster session geared to learn about current capabilities and explore new science opportunities at SSRL and the LCLS. The multi-day event is a valuable opportunity to learn about the latest plans, new developments and exciting research at these national user facilities. It is also a great time to interact with colleagues, potential collaborators, and vendors of light source related products and services. The registration fee has been reduced this year to just $100 and is being waived for students (including postdocs), so please make plans to attend and present a  poster to share your latest research results.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS for the October 3 Plenary Session

  • Science Case for Diffraction Limited Storage Ring, Oleg Shpyrko (University of California San Diego)
  • Science Case for Short Pulses Time Resolved Studies, Aaron Lindenberg (Stanford Institute for Materials & Energy Sciences - SIMES)
  • Exploring Matter in Extreme Conditions, Siegfried Glenzer (Stanford Institute for Materials & Energy Sciences - SIMES)
  • Novel Short Pulses at LCLS, Ryan Coffee (LCLS)

USER CONFERENCE WORKSHOPS                                            

  • Oct 1:  Exploring an Inverse Compton Source (ICS) at SLAC. Organizers: Yijin Liu, Mike Toney
  • Oct 1:  Integrating Synchrotron Techniques into Environmental Carbon Science. Organizers: Colleen Hansel, John Bargar
  • Oct 1:  X-ray Spectroscopy for Chemical Catalysis. Organizers:  Mali Balasubramanian (APS/ANL), Tsu-Chien Weng, Jun-Sik Lee
  • Oct 1:  MicroXAS Imaging with SSRL's New 2-5 keV Beam Line 14-3. Organizer:  Sam Webb
  • Oct 1:  New Directions for High-Energy Density (HED) Physics at the Matter in Extreme Conditions Instrument. Organizers: Siegfried Glenzer, Phil Heimann
  • Oct 1:  Toward a Modular Framework for Lightsource Experiment Simulation. Organizer: Garth Williams
  • Oct 2:  AMO Instrument Upgrades: Opportunities in New Science. Organizer:  Christoph Bostedt
  • Oct 2:  LCLS Data Analysis. Organizer:  Amedeo Perazzo
  • Oct 2:  LCLS Detectors. Organizers:  Gabriella Carini, Chris Kenney
  • Oct 2:  Synchrotron Techniques in Metal Biogeochemistry:  Across Time and Spatial Scales. Organizers: Colleen Hansel, John Bargar
  • Oct 4:  Soft X-ray (SXR) Science. Organizers: Bill Schlotter, Josh Turner
  • Oct 4:  Software for Serial Crystallography Data Analysis. Organizers: Anton Barty, Thomas White, Marc Messerschmidt
  • Oct 4:  Scientific Opportunities Using High Repetition Rate X-ray Sources with 1-10 ps Bunch Length. Organizers:  Hendrik Ohldag, Apurva Mehta
  • Oct 4:  Early Career Scientist Forum. Organizers: Hae Ja Lee, Andre Schleife

OTHER SATELLITE EVENTS (Register Separately)                                        

  • Oct 1-2:  Using X-rays to Study Cultural Heritage. Organizers: Marc Walton (The Getty Conservation Institute), Apurva Mehta (SSRL) Register
  • Oct 1-2:  High-Intensity Laser-Plasma Interactions with a Free Electron Laser. Organizers: Siegfried Glenzer (SIMES), Roger Falcone (LBNL), Stefan Hau-Riege (LLNL) Register

Registration is now open on the Conference website(Abstract submission is coming soon)


Call for Nominations for Spicer and Klein Awards - Deadline Extended through August 8

Please submit your nominations for SSRL's annual Klein and Spicer awards to Cathy Knotts by August 8. These awards, as well as talks from the award recipients, will be presented at our Annual Users' Conference.

Call for Lytle Award Nominations - Due August 15

Consider nominating your colleagues, fellow users or staff for the Farrel W. Lytle Award.  The Lytle Award was established in 1998 by the SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee to promote important technical or scientific accomplishments in synchrotron radiation-based science and to foster collaboration and efficient use of beam time among users and staff at SSRL. Submit nominations to recognize outstanding achievements by SSRL users or staff by August 15 (send email to Cathy Knotts).                            

Automated Gate Access Now in Effect

Access at Security Gates 17 and 31 is now automated.  Security officers will remain posted at these gates over the next week or so to assist with any questions or issues that arise.  During this time period Gate 17 will be open from 6 am to 6 pm and Security will allow users without proximity card badges access to Bldg. 120 to get new badges during business hours as usual.

Beginning August 9 both gates should be operational 24/7.  Users without a proximity activated badge will need to stop at the Security Office near the Main Gate to get a temporary proximity card in order to proceed through Gate 17 to access SSRL or LCLS buildings.  In this transitional period we advise users to contact User Administration before heading to SSRL.  Once we resume user operations in the fall it is going to be more important than ever to inform us of who is expected to participate in scheduled experiments at our facility. 

See more:  Proximity Access Information

User Administration Update

X-ray/VUV Beam Time Requests Due August 15

Proposal spokespersons or their authorized lead contacts on active proposals can submit new X-ray/VUV beam time requests by August 15 for the first SSRL scheduling period (November 2013 through mid-February 2014). New proposals submitted June 1 will be eligible to submit requests by this date, pending peer review. Request beam time via the user portal

New X-ray/VUV Proposals Due September 1

New X-ray/VUV proposals can be submitted three times a year: September 1, December 1, and June 1. Proposals submitted by September 1 will eligible for beam time beginning in February 2014.  Read Proposal Submittal and Scheduling Procedures for more information.

Macromolecular Crystallography Beam Time Requests Due September 15

Beam Time Requests for shifts on Macromolecular Crystallography beam lines (7-1, 11-1, 12-2 and 14-1) during our November through February scheduling period are due September 15.  Request beam time via the user portal

The Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) is a third-generation light source producing extremely bright x-rays for basic and applied research.  SSRL attracts and supports scientists from around the world who use its state-of-the-art capabilities to make discoveries that benefit society. SSRL, a U.S. DOE Office of Science national user facility, is a Directorate of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science.  The SSRL Structural Molecular Biology Program is supported by the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research, and by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of General Medical Sciences. For more information about SSRL science, operations and schedules, visit

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Questions? Comments? Contact Lisa Dunn