SSRL Headline News - Vol. 21, No. 5 Feb/Mar 2021

SSRL Headline News


From the Director

SSRL's current downtime began on March 22 and will continue until May 10.  We have engaged in an accelerator improvement project over the past several years to increase the brightness of the beamlines by reducing the SPEAR3 horizontal emittance from 10 nm-rad to 6 nm-rad.  A new injection septum magnet was installed in 2019.  Our shortened shutdown period last summer necessitated scheduling this current downtime to install a lower emittance 3G dump and add shielding. Preparations for installing a new multi-bunch feedback kicker to replace the kicker on loan from the ALS will also be completed. The full kicker installation will occur beginning this August during our summer downtime.  More details about SSRL's current and future initiatives can be found in our 2021–2025 Strategic Plan.

When we resume user operations in May our goal is to allow 20–25 users per week from the northern California area and gradually increase those numbers in the summer, depending on the public health situation.

Paul McIntyre

Science Highlight

Copper and Zinc Forms in Bottom Ash from Solid Waste IncinerationContacts: Charlotte Tiberg (Swedish Technical Institute), Carin Sjöstedt (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), and Karin Karlfeldt Fedje (Chalmers University of Technology)

When trash is burned for energy, a residue called bottom ash (BA) is left behind. Each year the European Union alone creates millions of tons of BA, which can be used for construction after treatment. It is concerning that BA may contain metals like copper and zinc that leach into the environment, potentially harming wild life and, people. The amount of these metals in the ash does not indicate whether the material is a potential hazard since these metals are more or less able to mobilize into the surrounding environment depending on factors like pH and the solubility of their chemical form. To better understand which chemical forms of copper and zinc exist in bottom ash and if there is much variation between different ashes, a team of scientists from Sweden analyzed six samples from different waste-to-energy plants using EXAFS on SSRL beamlines 4-1 and 4-3.   Read more...

SSRL Research & Development

New Collaboration Aims to Bring Cutting-edge X-ray Methods to More Biological Researchers

Excerpt from SLAC News Article by Nathan Collins

Although synchrotron and x-ray free electron laser light sources have become some of the most valuable tools for studying biomolecular structure, they face many challenges – among them, the fact that x-rays can easily destroy proteins and other biological samples before scientists can get a good look at them.

It's a familiar story for researchers like Guillermo Calero, a structural biologist at the University of Pittsburgh who studies RNA polymerases, essential enzymes that read DNA and synthesize RNA as part of a process called transcription. While researchers knew a significant amount about the structure of human polymerases, the limitations of x-ray methods have hindered efforts to get a detailed picture of key parts of these structures, metals that catalyze biological reactions, or understand how they change during transcription.

Now, cases like Calero’s are driving a new, National Institutes of Health-funded effort at SSRL and LCLS to enable x-ray biomedical experiments that might not otherwise have been possible, make experiments more efficient, and ultimately to open up more opportunities for bioscientists to make use of the lab’s cutting-edge tools.  Read more...

Researchers Discover Long-sought Mechanism behind Worst Cases of a Common Blood Disorder

Excerpt from SLAC News Article by Nathan Collins

With a name like glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, one would think it is a rare and obscure medical condition, but that’s far from the truth. Roughly 400 million people worldwide live with potential of blood disorders due to the enzyme deficiency. While some people are asymptomatic, others suffer from jaundice, ruptured red blood cells and, in the worst cases, kidney failure. 

Now, a team led by researchers led by Stanford/SLAC Prof. Soichi Wakatsuki has uncovered the elusive mechanism behind the most severe cases of the disease: a broken chain of amino acids that warps the shape of the condition’s namesake protein, G6PD.   Read more...


Call for User Publications and Reminder to Acknowledge SSRL and Funding Agencies

Our multi-year facility review by DOE BES is coming up and publications are an important metric of productivity.  To help us update our publications lists for 2016–2020 and beyond please take a few minutes to use our publications database search and submit form to see if your SSRL-related publications are included and add any that are missing.   

Acknowledgement templates are provided on our website.  Note that with the successful renewal of the SSRL Structural Molecular Biology Program, the NIH grant number to include has changed to P30GM133894.


The African Synchrotron Network for Advanced Energy Materials (ASNAEM) invites you to participate in their survey to determine the potential user base for a pan-African synchrotron light source.  See survey


ALS Seminar Series, April 2, 2021, 12:10–1:00 p.m. (PDT)
Hélio C. N. Tolentino
, Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS)   Zoom Link

Electron Microscopy-X International Symposium, April 5, 2021, 8:009:30 a.m. (PDT)
Join the Stanford EM-X community for our monthly symposium featuring talks by Ada E. Yonath, Weizmann Institute of Science and Rafal Dunin-Borkowski, Forschungszentrum Jülich.  Registration is free and open to all!   EM-X Website  

U.S. Particle Accelerator Summer School, June 7July 2, 2021  USPAS website

SSRL/LCLS Users' Conference, September 2024, 2021 — Save the Date

AVS 67th International Symposium, October 2429, 2021, Charlotte, North Carolina  AVS67 website

User Research Administration

Proposal Deadlines

  • Macromolecular Crystallography - April 1, 2021
  • Xray/VUV - May 1, 2021
  • COVID-19 related proposals for beam time at SSRL and microscope time at our CryoEM facility can be submitted at any time and will be reviewed expeditiously.
  • CryoEM biology-related proposals for the S2C2 program are currently being reviewed on a monthly basis.

Submit beam time requests and proposals through the User Portal.  Questions can be directed to the SSRL User Office or the CryoEM User Office

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