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Vol. 17, No. 3 - September 2016

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From the Director

Kelly Gaffney

I am looking forward to seeing many of you at our Annual SSRL/LCLS Users’ Conference next week. This annual event is a valuable opportunity to learn about new developments and research at SSRL and LCLS through focused workshops, facility updates and invited talks.

This year the conference officially begins on October 5 with a number of parallel workshops. The Plenary Session follows on October 6 with updates from our facility directors and keynote talks. Presentations honoring awardees for their outstanding science and roles in the community will take place the afternoon of October 6 as will the poster session. We are very pleased to bring back the poster competition through the Joe Wong Poster Awards (see below). Additional workshops will be held on October 7, followed by additional events on October 8. We look forward to your participation.

Science Highlights


Formation of Nanoscale Composites of Compound Semiconductors Driven by Charge Transfer Contacts: Laura Schelhas (SSRL) and Wladyslaw Walukiewicz (LBNL)

In materials science, the creation of composites by mixing of materials with different properties can lead to a new set of properties. To create a new type of nanocomposite material for semiconductors, a team of scientists chose to combine CdO and SnTe, materials with disparate optoelectric properties, one acting as an n-type (electron-rich) and the other a p-type (hole-rich) semiconductor.  Read more...


Understanding how Li-rich Cathode Materials Degrade Using X-ray Diffraction, Spectroscopy, and 3D Nano ImagingContacts: Yijin Liu (SSRL),  Xiqian Yu (BNL / Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences) and Xiao-Qing Yang (LBNL)

The continuing development of better lithium-ion batteries, which are common in consumer electronics, depends on improvements in the batteries’ chemical materials. Over the charge/discharge cycle of the battery, the electrochemistry and morphology of the material change, which can cause steric stresses and defects, leading to decreased battery performance. Modifications of the lithium compounds used at the cathode can help the batteries hold more charge and keep charge better over many charge/discharge cycles.  Read more...

More Science

X-ray Studies of Modern Feathers Allow Scientists to Search for Fossil Pigments

Excerpted from September 23, 2016 SLAC News Feature

In order to discover the true colors of ancient animals, scientists are using x-rays to closely examine the chemical details of modern bird feathers.

A team of researchers, led by the University of Manchester, performed x-ray fluorescence imaging (XRF) and x-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) experiments on Beam Line 6-2 to map elements that make up pigments responsible for red and black colors in feathers. They hope to use this information to find traces of the same pigments in fossil specimens of extinct animals, such as dinosaurs.

This latest discovery means that scientists may be able to go beyond monochrome in their depictions of fossilized creatures, and make steps towards portraying their colors more accurately.  Read more...

SLAC to Play Key Role in $30 Million DOE Effort to Improve Solar Module Materials

Excerpted from September 15, 2016 SLAC News Feature

The U.S. Department of Energy recently announced the launch of the Durable Module Materials National Lab Consortium, or DuraMat, which is designed to accelerate the development and deployment of new, high-performance materials for photovoltaic (PV) modules to lower the cost of electricity generated by solar power while increasing the lifetime of modules in the field. Led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), it includes SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, as well as partners from academia and industry.

SLAC will lead the consortium’s efforts to quickly discover, develop and evaluate new materials for making solar modules cheaper, more efficient and more durable. This effort will focus on accelerating the transfer of new materials and technologies that the consortium develops to industry for commercialization.

“Our work for the consortium will take advantage of our unique capabilities for probing materials with x-rays at SSRL,” said Michael Toney, an SSRL senior staff scientist who will lead the consortium’s work in high-throughput materials discovery, characterization and forensics.

“These studies reveal how materials work, at an atom-by-atom level, while a solar cell is operating, and by working with theorists and computer scientists we can greatly accelerate the identification of promising new materials for evaluation".  Read more...

Postdocs Encourage Middle-schoolers to 'Embrace the Unknown'

Excerpted from September 27, 2016 SLAC News Feature

Laura Schelhas, Beth Miller and Anna Wise are postdoctoral scholars in SSRL's Materials Science Division under the supervision of Mike Toney.  Schelhas researches new material discovery and design for solar applications, Miller studies next-generation lithium sulfur batteries, and Wise is implementing a new imaging technique to acquire very high-resolution images of materials.  All three want to pass their excitement about their chosen science careers on to the next generation and are participating in the Tech Trek program as a means of doing so.

In an effort to increase women’s representation in STEM careers, the American Association of University Women launched the Tech Trek program, which is designed to develop and increase interest in math and science among middle-school girls. The program offers a mind-expanding opportunity for teens at a critical age, when they haven’t yet fully established their course of studies and can still embrace positive influences toward science.  Read more...


Makoto Hashimoto Receives Lytle Award for Contributions to High-temperature Superconductor Research

Excerpted from September 14, 2016 SLAC News Feature


Makoto Hashimoto, a staff scientist at SSRL, has been selected to receive the Farrel W. Lytle Award for his technical and scientific contributions to a research program that has produced new insights about high-temperature superconductors – materials that conduct electricity perfectly with no resistance at temperatures significantly higher than conventional superconductors. 

The award recognizes his work on more than 50 scientific publications in the field over the past decade, and honors his technical accomplishments in developing an experimental station at SSRL that allows researchers to study superconductivity and other states of matter that could be key to solving energy problems and developing electronics of the future. 

"Owing to his diligent and creative work, BL5-4 has remained one of the most productive beam lines at SSRL and one of the top competitive ARPES facilities in the world," Donghui Lu, an SSRL senior staff scientist, wrote in his nomination letter.  Read more...

Trevor Petach Receives 2016 Klein Award

Excerpted from September 29, 2016 SLAC News Feature


Trevor Petach is the winner of the 2016 Melvin P. Klein Scientific Development Award – an annual prize recognizing outstanding research accomplishments by new investigators based on work performed at SSRL.

“When I came to Stanford, I wanted to make practical devices for electronics or batteries,” Petach says. “And I realized that one important part of making interesting devices is understanding the fundamental science behind them.”

With his advisor, Stanford Professor of Physics and SLAC investigator David Goldhaber-Gordon, Petach began using synchrotron radiation at SSRL to study solid-liquid interfaces and how they change under the influence of a strong electric field. Their goal is to use ionic liquids to change the electronic properties of materials, such as turning metal oxides from insulators to conductors, and to understand what happens where solid and liquid meet in these systems.  Read more...

Long-time SSRL User Elected to be New Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

The Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada have recently elected 89 new Fellows including Graham N. George.  A long-term SSRL user and former staff scientist, Prof. George is also an internationally-recognized leader in x-ray spectroscopy and imaging using synchrotron radiation. His research has provided insights into the chemistry of metals in living organisms. His work has had impacts in the areas of bioinorganic chemistry, molecular toxicology, fuel chemistry and environmental science.  According to George, "Being elected a fellow is most definitely an honor, and I owe SSRL a big thank you for the work that was done there."


SSRL Users' Executive Committee Update

SSRL has a Users' Executive Committee (UEC) that includes user representatives from various scientific areas that utilize SSRL beam lines. We have a call for candidates and an election each fall in conjunction with the Annual Users' Conference. Elected UEC members generally serve three-year terms.

This year we will elect new members in two areas:   Environmental/Geosciences and Macromolecular Crystallography.  Please take a few minutes before October 7 to review the candidates and cast your ballot for the 2016/2017 SSRL UEC.  

        * * VOTE Before October 7 * *

The SSRL UEC provides an organized framework for interaction between the scientific user community and SSRL/SLAC Management to communicate the interests of users regarding SSRL operations and user support. The committee meets several times throughout the year – we encourage participation, feedback and suggestions from the general scientific user community. To get involved or to learn more about the UEC, please contact us or join us for meetings.

We hope that you are able to participate in the October 5-8 SSRL/LCLS Annual Users' Meeting and Workshops as well as the open users’ discussion with facility directors at 2:30 pm on October 6 (SLAC Panofsky Auditorium in the new Science and User Support Building (SUSB)). We encourage you to submit questions you would like addressed at this discussion. You can submit these questions to SSRL UEC Vice Chair Blaine Mooers or Cathy Knotts.  Some ideas for discussion could be:

  • Onboarding at the User Office – badging, training, access, etc.
  • Housing at the Guest House
  • New developments and capabilities

We look forward to seeing you next week and to hearing your input.

Joe Wong Poster Awards


As announced earlier this month the Joe Wong Poster Awards have been established to promote multi-disciplinary interactions among the user community, to recognize the best poster presentations at the Annual Users' Conference, and specifically to help students in preparing for their science careers. The poster awards are open to users of both the SSRL and the LCLS.

The best poster presentation by an undergraduate or graduate student (BS or PhD student user) will be awarded $500. Up to two more posters will be selected for a $250 award. Presenters at any stage of their research career and in any field can compete for the $250 award.

Submit your poster abstract by noon on October 3. Please also send Lisa Dunn a message indicating that you want to compete for a poster award. Meeting registration is a requirement for poster presentation. Students presenting posters get free registration at the Annual Users' Conference.

2017 Panofsky Fellowship Applications due November 18, 2016

The Panofsky Fellowship honors SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory's founder and first Director, Wolfgang K. H. Panofsky.  It is intended to recognize exceptional and promising young scientists who would most benefit from the unique opportunity to conduct their research at SLAC. 

The Fellowship celebrates W. K. H. Panofsky's breadth of activities and is awarded without regard to a candidate's particular specialty within our programs.  While an emphasis will be placed on the potential for innovation and growth of new opportunities as their career develops, the candidate's research plan should relate to one or more areas within the general scope of the science program at SLAC:

  • Accelerator science & advanced accelerator research
  • Biosciences
  • Chemical science
  • Elementary particle physics
  • High energy density matter
  • Material science
  • Particle astrophysics and cosmology
  • X-ray Science with LCLS and SSRL

Read more for application process

Upcoming Events

4th High-Power Laser Workshop – October 3-4 2016

This workshop will bring together the international science community to discuss recent experimental results from matter in extreme conditions (MEC) enabled by the combination of high-power laser drivers with the world-class LCLS x-ray beam. We will discuss novel experiments in the high-pressure regime created by nanosecond lasers and in particular discuss results obtained with the recently commissioned 25 TW-laser. We will describe the scientific opportunities at the MEC instrument and provide time to discuss important physics proposals and experimental needs for cutting-edge research with the upcoming 200 TW-laser that is expected to become available shortly after the workshop. Workshop website

Attend the SSRL/LCLS Users' Conference – October 5-8, 2016

The Annual SSRL/LCLS Users' Conference is an excellent opportunity for our user community to participate in an event that provides a broad sampling of multidisciplinary photon science through plenary presentations, poster talks, workshops and satellite events. Activities planned for this event include:

Workshops: Wednesday, October 5

  • High Throughput Serial MX Data Collection at Synchrotrons and FELs
  • Hybrid Methods and Dynamics in Structural Biology
  • LCLS-II Instrumentation Workshops NEH 1.x & NEH 2.x  (Parallel Workshops)
  • Discovering Functional Materials Faster
  • LCLS Data Analysis and Interface Hands-on Analysis Tutorial
  • Applying Machine Learning to LCLS Data Analysis

Plenary Talks: Thursday, October 6

  • Simon Bare, SLAC SSRL
  • Mike Dunne, SLAC LCLS
  • Kelly Gaffney, SLAC SSRL
  • Mike Lubell, CCNY/American Physical Society
  • Marius Schmidt, University of Wisconsin
  • Robert Schoenlein, LCLS
  • John Paul Strachan, Hewlett Packard Enterprises

Workshops: Friday, October 7

  • Electrochemical Energy Materials and Fundamental Studies Using Synchrotron X-rays
  • In-Situ Catalysis with Advanced X-ray Methods
  • Sample Delivery: Methods & Equipment
  • SAXS for Biological Characterizations
  • ScÅtter Software Tutorial
  • Nonlinear X-rays - Advanced Methods and Science Applications
  • Analysis of xFEL scattering data from Biomolecules and Nanoparticles
  • Timing and Synchronization of X-ray and Optical Lasers

Events: Saturday, October 8

  • Young Investigators Session organized by BioXFEL
  • PULSE Institute 10-Year Anniversary Symposium

The activities scheduled over this multi-day event provide opportunities to discuss the latest user research results, current/future capabilities and new science opportunities as well as to network with scientists in many areas as well as vendors of light source related products and services.

We look forward to seeing you there!  Users' Conference website

User Research Administration

SSRL Beam Time Request Deadlines

  • November 23, 2016 - X-ray/VUV (February - May beam time)

Proposal Deadlines

  • December 1, 2016 – X-ray/VUV proposals (for beam time eligibility beginning in spring 2017)
  • December 1, 2016 – Macromolecular Crystallography proposals (for beam time eligibility beginning in March 2017)

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