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Vol. 15, No. 8 - April 2015

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From the Director

Kelly Gaffney

During recent reviews, SSRL has received high praise for operations and scientific achievement from our primary sponsors: the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences for our core operations and the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Sciences, and the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of General Medical Sciences for our Structural Molecular Biology Program. I would like to congratulate the entire SSRL team for this significant achievement and thank everyone for their talent, ambition and effort.  I would also like to thank the SSRL user community for your essential contributions to our collective success.

These excellent reviews enable SSRL to focus on the challenges and opportunities of our near and long-term future. Finding a unique and compelling plan for enhancing SSRL performance represents the key challenge that must be addressed to ensure a bright future for SSRL.  I encourage the SSRL user community to help us define this future. Finding creative and collaborative means of funding our strategic goals will also be critical to our success.

The senior management team at SSRL has launched numerous scientific and operational task forces in 2015 focused on addressing these critical challenges. Tackling these demands and embracing new opportunities will require SSRL to stretch organizationally. We must establish new partnerships and embrace a more entrepreneurial spirit, while maintaining excellence in facility and user operations.  I look forward to working with all of you to meet our strategic goals while maintaining our high level of scientific and operational achievement at SSRL.

Science Highlights


A Designed Supramolecular Protein Assembly with in-Vivo Enzymatic ActivityContact: F. Akif Tezcan, University of California, San Diego

Creating novel enzymes to perform specific chemical reactions is a field of great promise, but it is still in its early stages. Efforts usually involve using well-studied protein structural and functional domains to create new active sites. Scientists have recently developed a different approach, creating the active site in the interface between proteins in a multi-protein complex. They started with a well-researched, natural protein that, in its natural state, does not form complexes with other proteins, and nor does it catalyze the desired reaction.  Read more...


Identification of Highly Active Fe Sites in (Ni,Fe)OOH for Electrocatalytic Water SplittingContacts: Daniel Friebel, SUNCAT and Alexis T. Bell, JCAP

The sun provides more energy than what could ever possibly be consumed. However, switching to solar energy to end our dependence on fossil energy resources is made difficult not merely by how much is consumed, but rather by the pattern of how energy is used: significant amounts are consumed by road and air transportation and must be provided “on board” in the form of fuels. This problem could be solved with new devices that convert sunlight into renewable fuels, for example, by driving a light-induced current between two electrodes that split water by electrolysis into hydrogen and oxygen. Currently, the limiting step for the viability of this process is the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) that takes place at the anode.  Read more...

More SSRL-related Science

Researchers Study How Metal Contamination Makes Gasoline Production Inefficient

Excerpted from April 30, 2015 SLAC News Feature

Scientists at SSRL and Utrecht University have identified key mechanisms of the aging process of catalyst particles that are used to refine crude oil into gasoline. This advance could lead to more efficient gasoline production.

Their recent experiments studied so-called fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) particles that are used to break long-chain hydrocarbons in crude oil into smaller, more valuable hydrocarbons like gasoline.

“A major problem is that these catalysts quickly age and lose their activity, so tons of fresh catalysts have to be added to a reactor system every day,” said lead researcher Florian Meirer, assistant professor of inorganic chemistry and catalysis at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. “We are trying to understand how this aging happens, and we’re working with companies that produce these FCC catalysts to make the process more efficient.”

In x-ray nanotomography experiments using the transmission x-ray microscopy setup at Beam Line 6-2c, the researchers studied FCC catalysts of various ages to better understand the effects of aging. They were able to image whole catalyst particles with high resolution so they could also see the catalysts’ internal structure – like taking a panoramic landscape photograph where you can zoom in to see the ants.  Read more... 


Arthur Bienenstock Honored with First Endowed Professorship to link SLAC and Stanford

Excerpted from April 7, 2015 Stanford Report article by Glennda Chui

Stanford University and SLAC have established the first endowed professorship that is reserved specifically for joint appointments between the two.

Called the Wallenberg-Bienenstock Professorship, the new chair honors Arthur I. "Artie" Bienenstock "for his outstanding efforts to strengthen links between Stanford and Swedish universities," said Peter Wallenberg Jr., chairman of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, which donated $4 million to establish the professorship. 

A Professor Emeritus at SLAC and Stanford and former longtime Director of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, Bienenstock has for the past seven years directed the Wallenberg Research Link at Stanford, which fosters collaborations between Stanford and Swedish researchers and facilitates campus visits by groups and individuals from Swedish universities, industry and government.

"I was completely surprised and pleased," said Bienenstock, who was informed of the professorship at a March 20 Stanford University campus celebration of his 80th birthday.

"This is a tremendous honor, one that will help bring SLAC and the campus closer together.  Read more...

Congratulations from SSRL,  Artie!

SSRL Users from Stanford Elected to Prestigious Science Academies

A number of Stanford professors have recently been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in recognition of their achievements in original research.  Congratulations to them all, especially the several amongst them who are current or former SSRL users.

National Academy of Sciences:

Aharon Kapitulnik, the Theodore and Sydney Rosenberg Professor of Applied Physics and Professor of Physics

Zhi-Xun Shen, the Paul Pigott Professor in Physical Sciences; Professor of Physics and of Applied physics; Professor of Photon Science

American Academy of Arts and Sciences:

Brian K. Kobilka, the Helene Irwin Fagan Chair in Cardiology; and Professor of Medicine, Stanford School of Medicine

Upcoming Workshops and Conferences

12th International Conference on Synchrotron Radiation Instrumentation, July 6-10, 2015, New York City, NY

The National Synchrotron Light Source ll (NSLS-ll) at Brookhaven National Laboratory is pleased to invite you to register to attend the 12th International Conference on Synchrotron Radiation Instrumentation (SRI 2015) at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square, New York City, July 6-10, 2015. Register at SRI website

16th International Conference on X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (XAFS16), August 23-28, 2015, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Karlsruhe, Germany
        Conference website

12th International Conference on Biology and Synchrotron Radiation (BSR) is being planned to take place in Menlo Park, CA on August 22-24, 2016. Save the Date.

Joint SSRL/LCLS Annual Users' Conference, October 7-9, 2015 - Call for SSRL/LCLS Workshop Topics

What are the hot topics that you want to hear about or discuss at the next SSRL/LCLS Users' Conference? Last call to submit a workshop proposal, Friday, May 8.

2015 LCLS/SSRL Annual Users' Conference Organizing Committee: Cathy Knotts, SSRL/LCLS User Research Administration Manager, Petra Fromme, LCLS Users' Executive Committee Vice Chair, Eddie Snell, SSRL Users' Executive Committee Vice Chair, Georgi Dakovski , LCLS Scientist, Tim Maxwell, LCLS Scientist, Hendrik Ohldag, SSRL Scientist

User Research Administration

Proposal Deadlines

  • The next deadline for submitting standard X-ray/VUV proposals is June 1 and July 1 for Macromolecular Crystallography proposals.
  • LCLS PCS proposals are due May 5 by 4 pm.

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