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Vol. 13, No. 5 - November 2012
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From Director

PieroPianetta I would like to ask you all to join me in thanking Chi-Chang Kao for his outstanding leadership of SSRL over the past two years and anticipating his continued interaction as Director of SLAC. He created a vision that, while keeping SSRL's core values of doing outstanding science and providing excellent support to its users, brought new approaches to enhance SSRL's capabilities and contribute to the research that addresses paths towards meeting the Nation's energy needs. This has created new connections with groups beyond our traditional user base and new synergies between our research groups at SSRL, Photon Science and Stanford University. Now that I'm back in the saddle, I look forward to the challenge of maintaining the momentum we have developed over the past several years as well as working with all of you to develop new directions in the future.

The FY2013 SSRL run started earlier this month with 450 mA ring current and top-off injection. We will be carefully monitoring the beam performance to confirm that the tunnel insulation that was installed this summer has achieved the expected beam stability improvements, as well as continuing to study the effects of high current operation on the beam line optics and the quality of the data being collected. We anticipate continued feedback from you, the user community, to help us achieve this goal.

Over the coming few months, we expect to bring Beam Line 9 back on line. Over the next year, we will continue development of the new advanced spectroscopy beam line, install the new Beam Line 5 EPU (summer 2013) and continue the development of a science program using low-alpha accelerator operation. This will definitely be an exciting year and I hope we can make it even more exciting through the great science you all will be doing at SSRL!

– Piero Pianetta

Science Highlights

Navigating Fermi Arcs Contacts: T. J. Reber and D. S. Dessau (University of Colorado)

In solids, Fermi surfaces are the boundaries between occupied and unoccupied electron levels, as defined in momentum space. Their properties dictate that each Fermi surface should form a single unbroken loop. To the surprise of physicists, disconnected segments of the Fermi surface – Fermi arcs – were discovered in cuprate superconductors in 1998.

In a study recently published in Nature Physics, researchers from the University of Colorado have used angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) at SSRL Beam Line 5-4 to determine the origin of these Fermi arcs in the cuprates. Read more

Fischer-Tropsch Catalyst Nanoscale Chemistry under Realistic Working ConditionsContacts: J. C. Andrews (SSRL) and B. Weckhuysen (Utrecht)

Olefins are the basic building blocks for many products from the petrochemical industry and are currently produced by steam cracking of naphtha or ethane, but increasing oil and gas prices are driving the industry toward producing olefins from syngas derived from cheaper feedstocks via the Fischer-Tropsch process instead. A team of scientists used full-field Transmission hard X-ray Microscopy (TXM) and a special reactor designed and built at SSRL and installed on SSRL Beam Line 6-2 to learn more about the catalyst at the heart of the Fischer-Tropsch-to-Olefins (FTO) process. Read more

The Chemistry of Bromine in Terrestrial and Marine EnvironmentsA. C. Leri (Marymount Manhattan College) and S. C. B. Myneni (Princeton University)

Recent work at SSRL has helped reveal a previously unrecognized wealth of bromine chemistry in the environment, where bromine in seawater has long been thought to exist as inorganic bromide, while bromides in soil were considered so unreactive that they've routinely been used as a hydrological tracer.

The reality bromine chemistry in the environment is much more complex. X-ray absorption spectroscopic (XAS) studies conducted by Leri, et al. at SSRL Beam Lines 2-3 and 4-3, as well as at the ALS and NSLS, reveal a complicated association between bromine and organic carbon in both sea water and soil. Read more


SSRL Experiments to Focus on Solar Tech
November 7, 2012 SLAC Today article by Glenn Roberts Jr.

SSRL will play a central role in three research projects that seek cheaper materials and manufacturing techniques for solar panels, with support from a Department of Energy program called the SunShot Initiative.

The studies are aimed at improving an ink jet-like printing technique for producing flexible solar paneling, making thin-film solar panels more efficient and understanding structural changes in solar panel components that are heated during manufacturing.

Each project will run for three years, said Mike Toney, who leads the SSRL Materials Science Division and will participate in two of the projects.

"These are challenging experiments. One of the reasons they haven't been done before is that they're not easy," Toney said. He said he expects the research to begin soon.

Building experimental chambers for performing x-ray analyses of the solar materials and processing techniques will involve many scientific disciplines, Toney noted, from physics to chemistry to materials science and chemical engineering. "That's one of the things that make it fun," he said.

Toney said he would have been delighted to receive DOE support for even one of the three submitted proposals. "We got all three, which was pretty surprising to me," Toney said. "They are good opportunities to demonstrate how SSRL and DOE labs in general can participate in work that's more applied." Read more...

Shutdown Projects
November 20, 2012 SLAC Today article by Lori Ann White

Two major multi-year projects reached successful conclusions during the annual shutdown of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. The projects, a wrapping of insulation over the SPEAR3 tunnel and the installation of new hardware and software at several beamlines, promise to provide many users with steadier x-ray beams that are easier to control.

“SSRL has once more completed a busy shutdown with a range of important projects, focusing on improvements and new capabilities, making us ready to provide our user community enhanced capabilities for their research,” said interim SSRL director Piero Pianetta.

The insulation around the SPEAR3 storage ring, where circling electrons generate the x-rays that power scientific discoveries at SSRL’s many beam lines, is a cost-effective solution to an issue that has dogged the ring for several years. “It prevents temperature differences across the concrete blocks that make up the ring,” said John Schmerge, head of the SPEAR3 accelerator division. In previous years such temperature differences would cause the floor of the ring to rise tens of microns, lifting the electron beam and ultimately throwing the x-rays off their targets in the experimental hutches.  Read More...


  • X- ray/VUV and Macromolecular Crystallography Proposals are Due Monday, December 3

  • Operations Messagescontact: John Schmerge

    Just a heads up to inform users that the SPEAR3 Operator messages will no longer appear in the Curmon TV display, which is distributed around the experimental floor. The display will still be available to show the accelerator status but operator messages will no longer be posted here.   Instead, messages from the operator will be posted on the SPEAR3 Status web page at

    The Accelerator Operator will continue to give verbal announcements of any beam loses and faults or in anticipation of any activity which may change beam conditions.  Posted messages will provide information of upcoming events (low alpha, AP, maintenance days and times beam will not be available) or if the accelerator is down for more than about 30 minutes the message will describe the current problem and the expected recovery time.


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