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Vol. 15, No. 1 - August 2014

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SLAC Director Chi-Chang Kao Announces Kelly Gaffney as New SSRL Director

On Monday, August 18, 2014, SLAC Director Chi-Chang Kao announced:

Kelly Gaffney

“After a year-long international search for a new Director of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), I am very pleased to announce that Kelly Gaffney, a faculty member in the SLAC Photon Science Department and a member of the Stanford-SLAC joint PULSE Institute, has agreed to take on the role of SSRL Director. Kelly will officially start in his new position this week.

A chemist by training, Kelly is one of the world’s leading experts in using femtosecond x-ray pulses – ultrashort, intense pulses – to study how chemical bonds are created and modified.  Kelly focuses on how material, chemical or biological changes occur on very fast time scales, but the approach is one that can be used generally to study a wide range of processes with facilities, such as SSRL and the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), also at SLAC.  Kelly will use his expertise to expand research programs at SSRL, strengthen the connection with Stanford, and develop a long-term upgrade strategy for the facility. Kelly has the right skills for this job and I look forward to working with him as we build on SSRL’s successful past to define the facility’s next chapter.

I also want to thank Piero Pianetta, who has been serving as Acting Director at SSRL, for the tremendous work he has done in leading the facility the last year. Piero will return to his role as Deputy Director for SSRL and will continue to be a guiding force for the facility’s people as well as a great resource for Kelly as he steps into his new role.”

Please visit the SSRL Director’s Office web page for further information.

Science Highlights


Nanoscale Morphological and Chemical Changes of High Voltage Lithium-Manganese Rich NMC Composite Cathodes with CyclingContacts: Feifei Yang (University of Science and Technology of China), Yijin Liu and Joy C. Andrews (SSRL), and Jagjit Nanda (ORNL)

Responsible, eco-friendly and sustainable use of energy is one of the biggest challenges in today’s world. Current rates of energy consumption demand the development of efficient ways to store energy, for instance in safe and durable rechargeable batteries. However, repeated charge cycles degrade batteries over time, eventually leading to their failure. Researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China, SSRL and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have recently developed a new approach to visualize and quantify changes in battery materials during electrochemical cycling – providing crucial information for a better understanding of battery failure and potential improvements of energy storage materials.  Read more...


In Situ Nanotomography and Operando Transmission X-ray Microscopy of Micrometer-sized Germanium Particles in Battery AnodesContacts: Johanna Nelson Weker and Michael Toney (SSRL)

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are widely used in a variety of applications, ranging from consumer electronics to electric vehicles. Their breadth of use makes the development of new, high-capacity battery materials highly desirable. Yet, the progress of lithium-ion technology has been rather slow over the past decades. One promising approach to enhancing the capacity of lithium-ion batteries is to use silicon or germanium anodes that form alloys with lithium during cycling. Unfortunately, these electrodes fail after a few charge cycles for reasons that had not been fully understood. A recent study has now revealed that fracturing of the anode material during battery operation causes the anodes to malfunction.  Read more...

SSRL Award Announced

Ying Diao Honored with 2014 Spicer Award for Her Work at SSRL

Excerpted from August 18, 2014 SLAC News Feature

Ying Diao, a SLAC/Stanford postdoctoral researcher who has brought key innovations to a printing technique for flexible electronics, solar panels and other uses, has been selected to receive this year's William E. and Diane M. Spicer Young Investigator Award.

"I was surprised and honored to receive this award," said Diao, who in 2011 joined research groups led by Stanford Professor Zhenan Bao and SSRL's Stefan Mannsfeld as a member of SIMES, the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences. "It's humbling because I know how much previous recipients have achieved to earn this award, and I admire many of them."

While she hadn't had much experience in x-ray science while pursuing her PhD in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she welcomed the opportunity to engage in x-ray studies at SSRL. "I had dreamed about using synchrotron facilities," she said. "I was very much drawn to deciphering structures using x-rays." She quickly became a regular participant in SSRL experiments.

Diao has been an author in 20 scientific publications since 2011, serving as lead author for eight of those, including a Nature Materials publication detailing the printing technique, dubbed FLUENCE, that she developed. This technique combines multiple innovations to precisely print semiconductors. One key innovation uses a blade embedded with tiny pillars to "comb" ink that is spread on a heated layer. The ink solution dries, crystallizing into a semiconductor material.  Read more...

SSRL Users' Organization Update

Mark your calendar and plan to participate in the SSRL/LCLS Users’ Meeting and Workshops October 7-10, as well as the combined SSRL and LCLS Users' Organization discussion with facility management.  The Users’ Organization Meeting will take place on Thursday, October 9 in the SLAC Building 48 ROB Conference Rooms.

We thank the SSRL Users' Executive Committee (UEC) members who will soon complete their terms and rotate off the committee in October – Elyse Coletta, Serena DeBeer, Rodrigo Noriega, Juana Rudati, and Alberto Salleo – it has been a pleasure working with you as members of the SSRL Users' Executive Committee!

Please take a few minutes to consider throwing your hat into the ring or nominating candidates interested in standing for election to the SSRL Users' Executive Committee to fill vacancies in the following areas:

  • Chemistry/Materials
  • Biospectroscopy/BioSAXS
  • Industrial Research
  • Graduate Student Representatives (any area)

Send your nominations via email to Cathy Knotts or submit using the online nomination form by September 19.

The SSRL UEC welcomes your comments, feedback and suggestions. We look forward to seeing you at the Annual Users' Meeting.

Upcoming Onsite Events

SSRL/LCLS Annual Users' Meeting and Workshops, October 7-10, 2014

Help us spread the news about the SSRL/LCLS Annual Users' Meeting and Workshops, October 7-10, 2014. The activities scheduled over this multi-day event provide opportunities to learn about the latest user research results, current/future capabilities and new science opportunities as well as to interact with other scientists and vendors of light source related products and services.  Meeting website.

Come out to hear updates from the SLAC Director, LCLS & SSRL Directors, DOE, speakers and exhibitors during the plenary session on October 9:

Keynote Speakers: Brian Kobilka, Thomas Elsaesser, Wanli Yang

Ying Diao will give the Spicer Award talk.

Chris Pollock will give the Klein Award presentation on Kβ Mainline X-ray Emission Spectroscopy (XES) as a Quantitative Probe of Metal-Ligand Covalency.

In addition to the plenary session on October 9, several parallel workshops will be held October 7, 8 and 10

  • In-situ/Operando Characterization of Soft Materials (Oct. 7)
  • Progress Toward Single Particle Imaging (Oct. 7)
  • Application of LCLS in Industrial Research (Oct. 7-8)
  • Advances in Actinide Science from Synchrotron Spectroscopy -Joint SSRL/ALS Workshop (Oct. 8)
  • LCLS Detector Development (Oct. 8)
  • LCLS Data Collection, Diagnostics, Analysis, Interpretation (Oct. 8)
  • In-Situ Studies of Inorganic Transition-Metal Complexes (Oct. 8)
  • International Year of Crystallography - X-ray Diffraction Success Stories (Oct. 8)
  • Characterizing and Controlling Chemical Dynamics - New Approaches to Resolving Long Standing Questions in Chemical Reactivity (Oct. 10)
  • Looking Ahead: SAM Developers Forum (Oct. 10)
  • Resonant Soft X-ray Scattering (Oct. 10)
  • Sample Delivery Systems (Oct. 10)
  • Software for Serial Crystallography (Oct. 10)

The SSRL & LCLS Users' Organizations look forward to seeing you at the Annual Users' Meeting!

Event held in parallel with Users' Meeting:

  • High Power Laser Workshop, October 7-8, 2014

    A workshop on High Power Lasers will be organized on October 7-8, 2014 at Stanford University Munger Graduate Residence Conference Center. Paul Brest Hall is located in Building 4 at 555 Salvatierra Walk and Nathan Abbott Way.  Shuttle service will be provided between SLAC and campus. Separate registration for this event is required. See workshop website.

Other Events and Announcements

Two Photon Science Students Selected for Chemistry-Inspired Culinary Competition

Excerpted from August 25, 2014 SLAC Today Article

Two Stanford/SLAC chemistry graduate students were selected to compete in a culinary competition during the 248th Meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco on August 11. Winnie Liang of the Stanford PULSE Institute and Trevor McQueen of SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis formed one of three teams selected for the final “Communicating Chemistry: California Cuisine” competition, presenting live, interactive demonstrations.

Contestants were asked to create California-inspired cuisine displaying a food chemistry topic. Liang and McQueen made both cherry and apple ice cream using liquid nitrogen, their chemistry know-how and fresh, local, organic produce.

Liang and McQueen practiced their LN ice cream creation skills at the recent SSRL End of Run Party.  Attendees enjoyed participating in their studies - particularly their mango flavored ice cream!

Read more about the competition.

Synchrotron Environmental Science-VI, September 11-12, 2014

Registration and abstract submission are open for the SES-VI conference, set for September 11-12, 2014, at the Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory. There is no registration fee.

A special event at this conference is “The Inaugural Gordon Brown Lecture: The Life and Times of Professor Gordon E. Brown Jr” in honor of his seminal contributions in developing the field of synchrotron-radiation based XAS spectroscopy for molecular environmental science, first at SSRL, and his impact nationally and internationally in building this science area.

ALS User Meeting, October 6–8, 2014

More information is available at the Meeting website.

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

User Research Administration Update

  • Beam Time Requests

    Submit SSRL Macromolecular Crystallography Beam Time Requests by September 17 to be considered for beam time in the next scheduling period, November 2014-February 2015.
  • Proposal Deadlines

    The September 1 deadline for X-ray/VUV proposals has been extended to September 3.  The next deadline for Macromolecular Crystallography proposals is December 1. 

    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