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Vol. 17, No. 7 - February 2017

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Science Highlight


Synchrotron Small Angle X-ray Scattering Studies Reveal the Role of Neuronal Protein Tau in Microtubule Bundle Formation with Architectures Mimicking those Found in Neurons Contacts: Peter Chung (University of Chicago) and Cyrus Safinya (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Microtubules (MTs) are sub-cellular structures made of the protein tubulin. They have important roles in moving organelles around the cell and in chromosome segregation before cell division. MTs can exist in two states, either a dynamic state of growing and shrinking MTs or a stable state. MTs can also form complex bundles that can be found in neuronal axons. The neuronal protein Tau helps facilitate this process and has been implicated in some neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. Yet Tau’s exact role in MT formation and bundling is unclear: different experiments (both in vivo and cell free) have shown Tau to mediate either attractive or repulsive forces between MTs.  Read more...

Beam Line Instrumentation Development

Instrument Finds New Earthly Purpose

Excerpt from February 23, 2017 Article in Symmetry by Amanda Solliday

TES array and cover shown with penny coin for scale.
–Dan Schmidt, NIST

Modern cosmology experiments—such as the BICEP instruments and the Keck Array in Antarctica—rely on superconducting photon detectors to capture signals from the early universe.

These detectors, called transition edge sensors, are kept at temperatures near absolute zero, at only tenths of a Kelvin. At this temperature, the “transition” between superconducting and normal states, the sensors function like an extremely sensitive thermometer. They are able to detect heat from cosmic microwave background radiation, the glow emitted after the Big Bang, which is only slightly warmer at around 3 Kelvin.

NIST scientists design and build the thin, superconducting sensors and turn them into pixelated arrays smaller than a penny. They construct an entire x-ray spectrometer system around those arrays, including a cryocooler, a refrigerator that can keep the detectors near absolute zero temperatures.

Over the past several years, these x-ray spectrometers built at the NIST Boulder MicroFabrication Facility have been installed at BL10-1 at SSRL, the NSLSII, and the APS to be used in a new capacity, that is for synchrotron radiation research.  Read more...

Upcoming Events

RapiData 2017 at SSRL – Data Collection and Structure Solving: A Practical Course in Macromolecular X-ray Diffraction Measurement, April 16-21, 2017, Menlo Park, CA 

The announcement, agenda, registration and additional information are now available at the RapiData 2017 website

canSAS-IX Meeting, June 5-7, 2017, San Francisco, CA

Please join us in San Francisco for canSAS-IX Meeting from June 5-7, 2017. The meeting will be hosted jointly between the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The collective action for nomadic materials science small angle scatterers (canSAS) is an ongoing activity to provide the small-angle scattering user community with shared tools and information. For more information please visit both canSAS and the meeting website

7th International Conferences on Hard X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy, September 11-15, 2017, Berkeley, CA

The 7th International Conferences on Hard X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (HAXPES, HXPS, HX-PES,...) brings together researchers from a wide variety of fields, from fundamental condensed matter and atomic and molecular physics to more applied surface and interface studies of catalysis, energy and IT device- and process- development, and environmental research. HAXPES is here defined as involving photon energies in the multi-keV range above about 2 keV, but the conference also encourages studies involving complementary photoemission measurements at lower energies, as well as other x-ray-based techniques. The use of HAXPES as a newly developed analytical tool, is expanding rapidly, both making use of synchrotron radiation and laboratory sources. Register online or contact the Co-Chairs for more information: Piero Pianetta (Stanford/SSRL), Chuck Fadley (UC Davis/LBNL), and Zahid Hussain (LBNL).  Conference website

SSRL/LCLS Users' Conference & Workshops, September 27-29, 2017, Menlo Park, CA – Workshop Topics due March 14

Planning has started for the next joint SSRL/LCLS Users' Conference. Please mark your calendars to save these dates:  September 27-29, 2017. We would appreciate your suggestions or feedback about what worked well, who you would like to hear from, or what you would like to see at the Users' Conference.

Proposals for half-day workshops are due by March 14: include a working title, brief description of the science area or topics that could be discussed, and potential organizers.

Please contact David Bushnell (SSRL UEC), Christoph Bostedt (LCLS UEC) or the Users Office to share your input.


Call for User Publications, Theses, Awards, Patents and Invited Talks

Once again we are preparing for a triennial review of SSRL by the DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences. Productivity in the area of user publications is one metric covered by the review.  We would like to express our thanks for the many publications that you have reported to date and request your help with compiling a complete listing of journal papers, theses, awards, patents, conference proceedings papers and book chapters for this review.  At this time we are also asking for invited talks over the past three years covering 2014-2016 (include talk title, meeting name, date and location).  

We will also send a request out under a separate cover and plan to include a search and submittal form to help with the process.  In the meantime you can send publication updates via email directly to Lisa Dunn.  More information and publication lists are also available on our publications page

User Research Administration

SSRL Beam Time Request Deadline

  • April 18, 2017 – Macromolecular Crystallography (June through July beam time)

SSRL Proposal Deadlines

  • April 1, 2017 – Macromolecular Crystallography
  • June 1, 2017 – X-ray / VUV

Note: Rapid Access Requests for selected beam lines can be submitted at any time.  Submit proposals and beam time requests through 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