SSRL Headline News is also available online 

Vol. 18, No. 3 - September 2017

View the Archives
**Note for Outlook users: For easier reading, please click the bar at the
top of this message that reads "This message was converted to plain
text" and select "Display as HTML."**

From the Director


As you may be aware we will resume user operations soon. Our summer shutdown was shortened by a few weeks and some of our beam lines will start coming online in mid October.  In addition to our usual winter break (December 22 to January 8) two separate week-long shutdowns are planned for late February and late May.

Despite the shorter shutdown period, much has been accomplished toward facility and instrumentation developments and improvements over the past couple of months.   A decision was made several years ago to replace the legacy RF system in the booster due to reliability concerns, primarily because there was no cost effective way to replace aging klystrons that were designed and built in 1975.  The new solid state amplifier (SSA) system was tested out over hundreds of hours during the past year and a major milestone was achieved earlier this month when beam was established in the booster using the solid state amplifier instead of the klystron.  SSA is now the production RF system for the booster.

Work progressed on several new beam lines including BL12-1 (micro-beam macromolecular crystallography), BL15-2 (spectroscopy XES-RIXS-XRS - time resolved), BL16-1/2 (metrology) and BL17-2 (energy sciences materials scattering).  The mini shutdowns in February and May are timed to accommodate implementations requiring in-alcove work while SPEAR is shut down.

I look forward to seeing users on our experimental floor again!

Science Highlights


Structure of the Human Cysteine Desulfurase ComplexContact: David Barondeau, Texas A&M University

Iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters are cofactors that are required for the function of proteins in many critical cellular processes.  All living organisms synthesize and distribute Fe-S clusters using complex biosynthetic pathways. In humans, the mitochondrial cysteine desulfurase, NFS1, is responsible for the conversion of the sulfur-containing amino acid, cysteine, to alanine and persulfide sulfur, an intermediate in Fe-S cluster synthesis. In contrast to the analogous cysteine desulfurase in prokaryotes, the eukaryotic NFS1 enzyme requires accessory proteins, ISD11 and ACP, for its function. A team of scientists investigated the structure of the NFS1-ISD11-ACP complex in order to unravel NFS1’s requirement of ISD11 and ACP for function.  Read more...

Citation: Cory et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (2017), doi: 10.1073/pnas.1702849114.


Operando Spectroscopic Microscopy of LiCoO2 Cathodes Outside Standard Operating PotentialsContact: Johanna Nelson Weker, SSRL

Given our increasing dependence of rechargeable battery containing electronic devices, including electric cars, it is important to engineer these systems to mitigate potential for catastrophic battery failure. One possible source of lithium ion battery failure is over-discharge (over-lithiation) of the cathode, which can permanently damage the battery. Electronic battery management systems are programmed to prevent and identify such failures, but sometimes do not catch problems of over-lithiation when they occur. To better understand the characteristics of battery failure from over-discharging, a team of scientists studied the chemical and morphological changes that occur from over-lithiation of a lithium battery cathode.  Read more...

Citation: Nelson Weker et al., Electrochim. Acta (2017), doi: 10.1016/j.e lectacta.2017.06.173

Awards and Honors

Hewlett Packard’s Suhas Kumar Wins 2017 Klein Award

Excerpted from September 11, 2017 SLAC News Feature by Manuel Gnida

Suhas Kumar (HPE) (Rebecca Lewington/Hewlett Packard Enterprise)

Suhas Kumar, a postdoctoral researcher at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), wants to develop next-generation information storage devices and better computers. His particular interest is a new type of electronic device, called a memristor, that could make future computer memories faster, more durable and more energy efficient than today’s flash memory.

Now, his work has been recognized with the 2017 Melvin P. Klein Scientific Development Award. Based on experiments at SSRL and elsewhere, he and his colleagues succeeded in explaining how memristors work on the atomic level, which is a crucial step toward commercializing these devices.

Memristors typically consist of a piece of transition metal oxide sandwiched between two electrodes. Applying a voltage pulse to the electrodes switches the device from low to high electrical conductivity or vice versa. The two states represent the two values of a “bit,” the basic unit of information in digital computing. Since no external power inputs are needed to keep the device in a switched state, it is suitable for use as “non-volatile” computer memory and could become an alternative for flash memory. Until recently, details of what exactly happens inside memristor materials were controversial. Read more...

Summer Internships

From Science to Finance: SLAC Summer Interns Forge New Paths in STEM

Excerpted from September 21, 2017 SLAC News Feature by Angela Anderson and Miyuki Dougherty

Sabine Hollatz, left, and Anastasiia Makhniaieva, right, worked on new ways to collect and process data at SLAC's X-ray synchrotron with their mentor Aina Cohen, center. (Dawn Harmer/SLAC)

This summer more than 100 interns worked on a wide variety of projects across SLAC. The students come to the lab each summer through a variety of department-hosted internships and educational outreach programs, including the DOE’s Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI) program, which provides research experience for undergraduate students exploring careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. Summer internships for high school students started at SLAC in 1969.

Other interns come to the lab via the DOE’s Community College Internships program, California Polytechnic State University's STEM Teacher and Researcher, and Stanford's Raising Interest in Science and Engineering programs. The LCLS Internship Program, now in its seventh year, hosted more than 40 interns in various fields of science and engineering, as well as science communications and business administration.

A number of interns were mentored by SSRL staff through these various programs, 12 of whom took part in Structural Molecular Biology (SMB) projects to advance various stages of macromolecular crystallography experiments from sample preparation, data collection and data analysis.  Read more...

Upcoming Events

Synchrotron Radiation Instrumentation (SRI 2018), June 10-15, 2018, Taiwan

Save the date for the 13th International Conference on Synchrotron Radiation Instrumentation (SRI 2018) to be hosted by the National Synchrotron Radiation Research Center (NSRRC), at the Taipei International Convention Center (TICC), June 10-15, 2018.  Conference website


Call for User Publications, Theses, Awards, Patents

Please let us know about all publications, theses, awards, patents and other forms of recognition resulting from research conducted fully or partially at SSRL. These metrics of scientific achievements and productivity are extremely important to the facility, and to our funding agencies.  Remember to acknowledge SSRL in ALL publications resulting from use of SSRL beam lines. This acknowledgement of SSRL is relevant even when final results are obtained at other facilities. If SSRL is not acknowledged in your paper or supplementary material, we are not able to include it on our list or report it to our funding agencies. Your assistance is essential to help us to meet our mission requirements, including assessment and reporting. More information is available on our publications page.

2018 Panofsky Fellowship Applications due December 1, 2017


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
  • Applied energy research
  • Biosciences
  • Chemical science
  • Computer science
  • Elementary particle physics
  • High energy density matter
  • Material science
  • Particle astrophysics and cosmology
  • X-ray science including ultrafast and advanced x-ray instrumentation at LCLS and SSRL

Read more for application process

User Research Administration

SSRL Beam Time Request Deadlines

  • November 8, 2017 – X-ray/VUV requests for February-April 2018

SSRL Proposal Deadlines

  • December 1, 2017 – X-ray/VUV and Macromolecular Crystallography

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

To unsubscribe from SSRL Headlines, just send an e-mail to with "signoff ssrl-headlines" in the body.

To subscribe, send an e-mail to with "subscribe ssrl-headlines" in the body.

Questions? Comments? Contact Lisa Dunn