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Vol. 17, No. 9 - April 2017

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From Our Director


The next decade will see a transformation in the capabilities of storage ring-based synchrotron radiation facilities. The construction of new synchrotrons, based on multi-bend achromat designs, will lead to significant increases in transverse x-ray coherence. The investment in high brightness facilities will enable advances in x-ray imaging, but the emphasis on x-ray coherence will not advance all x-ray techniques that are critical to discovery and use-inspired research or in demand by the user community. To review SSRL's role in this evolving landscape, check out our recently published Strategic Plan

As we prepare for the triennial review of SSRL by the DOE Office of Basic Energy Sciences later in May, I want to take a moment to thank you for your response to our call for user awards, patents, commercialized technology, invited talks, theses and papers. We appreciate your alerting us about these accomplishments throughout the year; your prompt reply to our call helps us to demonstrate the productivity of our facility for this upcoming review. We sincerely appreciate your input.

Kelly Gaffney

Science Highlights


Multimodal Synchrotron-based Imaging Reveals Novel Effects of Rehabilitation after Intracerebral HemorrhageContacts: Michael R. Williamson and Frederick Colbourne, University of Alberta

An intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts inside the brain and blood leaks into brain tissue. Secondary damage is caused by hemoglobin iron making free radicals that cause oxidative damage to brain cells.  While prompt rehabilitative therapies have been shown to limit damage, the mechanism for this is unknown.  Read more...


Elucidating the Role of POT1 C-terminal Mutations in CancerContact: Emmanuel Skordalakes, The Wistar Institute, University of Pennsylvania

Famous for their role in the process of aging, telomeres are the regions of repetitive DNA sequences at the ends of our chromosomes. These repeats are critical for preserving the structure and function of our DNA in concert with numerous cellular factors. One factor responsible for the regulation and maintenance of telomere length is the shelterin complex, composed of six proteins including one called POT1.  Read more...

Synergistic Photon Science Developments at SLAC

New Device Produces Hydrogen Peroxide for Water Purification: Low-cost Device has the Potential to Provide Developing Countries with Clean Water

Excerpt from March 31, 2017 SLAC News Feature by Jennifer Huber


Limited access to clean water is a major issue for billions of people in the developing world, where water sources are often contaminated with urban, industrial and agricultural waste. Many disease-causing organisms and organic pollutants can be quickly removed from water using hydrogen peroxide without leaving any harmful residual chemicals. However, producing and distributing hydrogen peroxide is a challenge in many parts of the world.

Scientists at the SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis and Stanford University, with the help of SSRL staff scientists Dennis Nordlund and Dimosthenis Sokaras to characterize carbon catalysts using soft x-ray absorption spectroscopy at Beam Line 8-2, have created a small device for hydrogen peroxide production that could be powered by renewable energy sources, like conventional solar panels. Their results were reported March 1 in Reaction Chemistry and Engineering.

“The idea is to develop an electrochemical cell that generates hydrogen peroxide from oxygen and water on site, and then use that hydrogen peroxide in groundwater to oxidize organic contaminants that are harmful for humans to ingest,” said Chris Hahn, a SUNCAT associate staff scientist.

“Most of the projects here at SUNCAT follow a similar path,” said Zhihua (Bill) Chen, a graduate student in the group of Tom Jaramillo, an associate professor at SLAC and Stanford. “They start from predictions based on theory, move to catalyst development and eventually produce a prototype device with a practical application.”  Read more...

New Theory Institute Aims to Speed Research on Exotic Materials at Light Sources

Excerpt from April 11, 2017 SLAC News Feature Glennda Chui

A new institute at SLAC is using the power of theory to search for new types of materials that could revolutionize society – by making it possible, for instance, to transmit electricity over power lines with no loss.  The Theory Institute for Materials and Energy Spectroscopies (TIMES) opened in August 2016 as part of the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES) and focuses on improving experimental techniques and speeding the pace of discovery at West Coast x-ray facilities operated by SLAC and LBNL.

“We’re interested in materials with remarkable properties that seem to emerge out of nowhere when you arrange them in particular ways or squeeze them down into a single, two-dimensional layer,” says Thomas Devereaux, a SLAC Professor of Photon Science who directs both TIMES and SIMES.  This general class of materials is known as “quantum materials.” Some of the best-known examples are high-temperature superconductors, which conduct electricity with no loss; topological insulators, which conduct electricity only along their surfaces; and graphene, a form of pure carbon whose superior strength, electrical conductivity and other surprising qualities derive from the fact that it’s just one layer of atoms thick.

In another research focus, Devereaux says, “We want to see what happens when you push materials far beyond their resting state – out of equilibrium, is the way we put it – by exciting them in various ways with pulses of x-ray light at light source facilities. Read more...

Where Scientist Meets Machine: A Fresh Approach to Experimental Design at LCLS X-ray Laser

Excerpt from April 26, 2017 SLAC News Feature Glennda Chui


Paul Fuoss, a former Stanford graduate student and recipient of SSRL's 2015 Farrel W. Lytle Award, joins LCLS with the mission of increasing productivity and improving the scientific experience at LCLS. He will look at LCLS and the LCLS-II upgrade from a fresh perspective and work with scientists and engineers across the lab to design instruments, user-friendly control systems and experimental flows that take full advantage of this technological leap.

For Fuoss, the broader goal is to increase productivity and improve the experiences of scientists at x-ray light sources everywhere. “Experiments have gotten a lot more complex over the past 20 years, not just at LCLS but at synchrotron light sources, too,” he said. “We’ve gone from controlling experiments with a single computer and detecting a single pixel of data at a time to using multiple computers and detecting more like a million pixels at once. Our ability to integrate different tools and computers and visualize the data has often not kept up with the technology. And at LCLS, that complexity is going to increase dramatically in a few years when the LCLS-II upgrade becomes operational.”  Read more... 

Upcoming Events

SSRL 2017 Summer School on Synchrotron X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy and Imaging, June 19-23, Menlo Park, CA

Additional information is available at school web portal

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

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

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 – Save the Date

Planning is underway for the joint SSRL/LCLS Users' Conference, to be held at SLAC, September 27-29, 2017. A plenary session with a poster session, awards and invited speakers is planned for September 28. Parallel workshops will be planned for September 27 and 29, including:

  • Accelerator Performance Developments
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Advanced X-ray Spectroscopy at SLAC: From Theory to Experimental Concepts
  • CDI at LCLS
  • Detectors for Photon Science
  • Feature Extraction for LCLS-II
  • First Experiments for LCLS-II (with Update/Introduction to Instrumentation)
  • Hands-on Data Analysis Workshop for LCLS
  • Probing Structure and Chemistry of Surfaces Using Hard X-ray Methods
  • New Methods for Room Temperature Crystallography at SSRL and LCLS-MFX
  • Sample Preparation, Characterization & Delivery: From PSLB to SSRL and LCLS
  • Ultrafast Chemistry and Materials Dynamics
  • Ultrasensitive Electronic Structure Detection in (Bio)Chemistry and Catalysis
  • Workflow Workshop (including Machine Learning Features)

We anticipate that registration will open at the conference website next month. We look forward to your feedback and participation!


Call for Spicer Young Investigator Award Nominations

Submit nominations for the Spicer Young Investigator Award by July 5, including a letter of nomination summarizing the technical or scientific contributions of the candidate, the candidate's curriculum vitae and publications. Supporting letters are encouraged. All SSRL users and staff are eligible for this $1,000 award honoring the professional and personal contributions that William E. and Diane M. Spicer made to our community. For more information visit the award website.

User Research Administration

SSRL Beam Time Request Deadline

  • August 7, 2017 – X-ray/VUV requests for beam time beginning fall 2017.

SSRL Proposal Deadlines

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

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

LCLS Proposal Deadline

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