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SSRL Headlines Vol. 9, No. 9  March, 2009


Contents of this Issue:

  1. Science Highlight — Scientists Identify Achilles' Heel of Flu Viruses
  2. Science Highlight — Macroscopic Quantum Insulator State Observed
  3. SLAC to Receive $68.3 Million in Recovery Act Funding
  4. SSRL's New CAMS Group has Great Chemistry
  5. XAS Experiments Resume on the 'New' BL4-1
  6. SLAC Shines in Condensed Matter Physics at the March APS Meeting
  7. New Alloys under Pressure Studied by Photon Science Faculty Member
  8. SON, GERT and RWT1 User Safety Training Now Available via the Web
  9. New X-ray/VUV Proposal Deadlines
  10. Upcoming Photon Science-Related Workshops, Conferences and Schools

1.  Science Highlight — Scientists Identify Achilles' Heel of Flu Viruses
       (contacts: C. W. Hwang,; R. C. Liddington,

highlight figure
Broad spectrum neutralizing antibody F10 in complex with hemagglutinin H5.
Scientists have recently identified a family of human antibodies that can take out an unprecedented number of different types of flu viruses, including H5N1 'bird flu' and the 1918 H1N1 'Spanish flu', which killed millions around the world during World War I, as well as seasonal flu. Using SSRL's Beam Line 9-2, Dr. Robert Liddington from the Burnham Institute for Medical Research led a team of scientists that determined the crystal structure of one such antibody, F10, in complex with the hemagglutinin H5 to unveil the molecular mechanism of virus neutralization. Results were published online 22 February 2009 in the journal Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.

Seasonal influenza kills more than 250,000 people worldwide each year. A pandemic influenza, such as the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1, poses a grave threat to society. Each seasonal flu vaccine contains three influenza viruses: one A (H3N2) virus, one A (H1N1) virus, and one B virus. The viruses in the vaccine change each year based on international surveillance and scientists' estimations about which types and strains of viruses will circulate in a given year. However, flu vaccines are not always effective - due in part to the rapid change of the globular head of hemagglutinin (HA or H), the major antigen on the surface of flu virus.

Using x-ray crystallography, the team solved the crystal structure of a potent antibody F10 in complex with hemagglutinin H5. The heavy chain of F10 binds to a highly conserved pocket, near the fusion peptide, in the stem of hemagglutinin. Binding of antibody F10 disables HA's ability to induce fusion between the viral membrane and the host cell membrane, a critical step in influenza virus infection. The F10 epitope is common among many different types of flu viruses, which explains its broad spectrum of neutralization against many different types of flu viruses.

To learn more about this research see the full scientific highlight at:

2.  Science Highlight — Macroscopic Quantum Insulator State Observed
       (contact: M. Zahid Hasan,

One of the strangest consequences of quantum mechanics is the seemingly instantaneous communication of subatomic particles over long distances. Known as quantum entanglement, pairs or groups of particles can become linked so that any changes made to one will cause the others to respond quicker than the time it takes for light to travel between them.

Scientists are interested in finding a material that shows quantum entanglement on a macroscopic scale but which is neither a superconductor nor a superfluid. Dubbed a topological insulator, this theorized, exotic state of matter would have unusual conducting properties. For example, changes in the shape of the surface or edge of this material would not affect its conductance, unlike typical insulators. Such a material is both interesting as an exotic new state of matter and could have application to quantum computers since its information processing properties are insensitive to the presence of impurities, making quantum operations naturally fault-tolerant.

An international collaboration of scientists led by M. Zahid Hasan of Princeton University performed angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy studies on SSRL's Beam Line 5-4 to measure the properties of the entangled electrons in a proposed topological insulator material made from bismuth and antimony. Combined with data from experiments performed at the COPHEE beam line of the Swiss Light Source, the study confirmed that the material is fully quantum entangled. This is the first example of a three-dimensional topological insulator in nature.

Additionally, this study defined a general method for identifying and characterizing other topological insulator states of matter. Their results were published in the February 13 edition of Science.

To learn more about this research see the full scientific highlight at:
highlight figure
(A) ARPES surface state (SS) Fermi surface of insulating Bi1-xSbx showing spin polarization directions as indicated by red and blue arrows. (B) Schematic of the SS Fermi surface of a 3D topological insulator. (C) ARPES energy-momentum dispersion of the surface states.

3.   SLAC to Receive $68.3 Million in Recovery Act Funding
       March 24, 2009 SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory News Release

The Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory will receive $68.3 million in funds from President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, allowing the laboratory to accelerate the acquisition of major research equipment and perform seismic upgrades to laboratory infrastructure. Included is funding for seismic retrofit work on SSRL buildings. Read full press release at:

see also: Energy Secretary Chu's Announcement regarding $1.2 Billion in Recovery Act Funding for Science

4.   SSRL's New CAMS Group Has Great Chemistry
       excerpted from March 25, 2009 SLAC Today Article

The Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource at SLAC is an invaluable resource for researchers studying everything from the ebola virus to carbon nanotubes. Scientists from all over the world compete to bring their research here, and the SSRL's bright x-rays aren't the only reason.

"The people at SSRL really make it stand out from other facilities," said Pierre Kennepohl, a University of British Columbia chemist studying sulfur oxidation at Beam Line 4-3.

That may be because SSRL's staff scientists have an unusual amount of independence; they spend only half their time helping users launch and maintain experiments in the beam lines. The other half is dedicated to pursuing their own research topics, which vary as widely as the specialties of the visiting users. "The biggest thing is that they understand not just what you're trying to do, but why you're trying to do it," Kennepohl said. "It really does make a difference when you're working with people who do their own research." As accomplished researchers in their own right, SSRL's staff scientists can offer help beyond instrumentation improvements, that is, provide direct scientific support and insights.

members of
Members of SSRL's CAMS group
SSRL has recently formed a new Chemical and Materials Science & User Support Group, or CAMS, to unite SSRL staff scientists who study the physical properties of materials: how they form and break, why they are magnetic, and their electronic, structural and chemical characteristics. CAMS works in parallel with the Structural Molecular Biology & Molecular and Environmental & Interface Science Research & User Support Department, SSRL staff scientists who study the structure and function of proteins and other biomaterials, and environmentally important systems. The two staff scientist groups work closely with beam line engineers and scientists, electronics engineers, technicians and computer experts to provide user support at SSRL. The new CAMS is headed by SSRL's Senior Staff Scientist Uwe Bergmann. Read more at:

5.   XAS Experiments Resume on the 'New' BL4-1
       (contacts: J. Rogers,; C. Knotts,

User operations began on the newly upgraded BL4-1 in early March. The new incarnation is similar to the old BL4-1 but in a new location and with a number of significant differences (click on Beam Line Map image to the right, then on 4-1 XAS for parameters). BL4-1 is still a SPEAR3 side station with a similar geometry to the old BL4-1. Differences include the addition of a harmonic rejection mirror, a new LN2 monochromator and new Windows/PC-based control and data collection system. A second, general use PC is available at the station for users to access data reduction and analysis software, e-mail, internet, etc.

The beam line is currently running samples in transmission and fluorescence modes (using a Lytle detector), and users should keep this in mind during sample planning and preparation. As facility upgrades on BL4-1 continue we expect to meet the following schedule (note that we will not be able to schedule users with the following equipment until testing/commissioning is complete):

  • LHe cryostat - early April, 2009
  • 13-element Ge detector - mid April, 2009
  • Full actinide sample use approval - early May, 2009.
Daily operational requirements often take precedence, and users should contact the beam line engineer with questions about equipment availability. Crystal changes can be made on BL4-1 if staff are available (this takes ~20-30 minutes). Contact Joe Rogers to request a crystal change or for more details about BL4-1.

Although the deadline to submit X-ray/VUV beam time requests for the May-August 2009 scheduling period was March 13, it may be possible to accommodate a few additional experiments on this beam line later this summer. If you are interested in trying out the new BL4-1, submit your beam time request now.

6.   SLAC Shines in Condensed Matter Physics at the March APS Meeting
       excerpted from March 20, 2009 SLAC Today article

Z.-X. Shen
SLAC made a strong showing at the 2009 March Meeting of the American Physical Society in Pittsburgh, presenting 81 papers representing the Laboratory. The March Meeting had a heavy focus on condensed matter physics. All week, faculty, post-doctoral researchers and graduate students from the Stanford Institute for Material and Energy Science, or SIMES, a joint SLAC-Stanford research institute, presented work on a wide range of exciting issues in condensed matter physics. Their papers covered topics from graphene nano-ribbons to topological insulators to the newly discovered family of iron-based superconductors.

"It's a pretty strong presence, and a lot of interesting results," said SIMES Director Zhi-Xun Shen, who attended the meeting. "It's fair to say that, through the SIMES institute, SLAC now has one of the strongest condensed matter physics programs in the world."

SLAC scientists also presented new techniques from SSRL and LCLS that will help condensed-matter physicists glean information about exotic states of matter. The meeting's talks and poster sessions provided an excellent opportunity to mix with like-minded researchers from other institutions. "It's important to get to know the state-of-the-art of the field," said Yves Acremann, a staff scientist from the joint SLAC-Stanford PULSE Institute for Ultrafast Energy Science. "We learn what we could do to address problems in solid state physics with the methods which are unique to SLAC."

7.   New Alloys under Pressure Studied by Photon Science Faculty Member
       from Stanford Report

Wendy Mao
W. Mao
A research team has created a material that was supposed to be impossible: an alloy of cerium and aluminum. The new alloy was coaxed into being at high pressures-200,000 times the Earth's atmospheric pressure at sea level. The process may be useful for creating novel materials in the future. "It opens exciting possibilities for making new alloys," said Wendy Mao (SLAC Photon Science Faculty) who collaborated on the data analysis for the paper. The work, led by Charles Zeng, a visiting graduate student from Zhejiang University in China, was published in the February 24 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more at:

8.   SON, GERT and RWT1 User Safety Training Now Available via the Web

Over the past couple of years SSRL users have been able to take Safety Orientation for Non-SLAC Employees (SON), a prerequisite course for General Radiological Training GERT, via the web before arriving onsite for scheduled beam time. This has been a great help in getting users badged and down to the experimental floor (a Radiologically Controlled Area) more quickly upon arrival. To make the process more efficient still, GERT and RWT1 training have now been added to the suite of safety training modules available at this portal. PLEASE NOTE: All users involved in experiments with radioactive samples are now required to complete RWT1 before handling any radioactive materials at SSRL.

Please contact Jackie Kerlegan ( in the SSRL User Research Administration group to get a SLAC ID and instructions for logging into the SLAC Training System. If this is your first time collecting data at SSRL you must also register as a user at:

see also:

9.   New X-ray/VUV Proposal Deadlines
       (contact: (contact: C. Knotts,

In response to user requests, we have increased the frequency of calls for proposals and streamlined the process to submit a proposal to conduct X-ray/VUV experiments at SSRL. Users can now submit new proposals June 1, September 1, or December 1. In addition, we eliminated the distinction between single experiment and program proposals, so that we have just one type of standard proposal valid for two years. All existing proposals are now eligible to request a one-time extension of two additional years based on the SSRL Proposal Review Panel's review of the proposal's progress and future plans. We shortened the proposal body length in the current word document to 3 pages. (We are developing a web-interface to submit proposals which will launch later this year). We have reduced the maximum number of external reviewers to six, and we will more actively seek assistance of SSRL proposal spokespersons in the external peer review process. For more information on proposal deadlines, instructions, and forms see

10.   Upcoming Photon Science-Related Workshops, Conferences and Schools


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 by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences. Additional support for the structural biology program is provided by the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research, the NIH National Center for Research Resources and the NIH Institute for General Medical Sciences. Additional information about SSRL and its operation and schedules is available from the SSRL WWW site.


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Last Updated: 30 MAR 2009
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