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Vol. 16, No. 5 - November/December 2015
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From the SSRL Team

We have reached the end of another exciting year at SSRL and are getting ready for the winter break.  We had a very successful run this year, continued to enhance our facility and enjoyed the scientific excellence of our users.  We wish you all a wonderful holiday, and look forward to seeing users back in early 2016!

Science Highlight


Translocator Protein Structure and FunctionContact: Shelagh Ferguson-Miller (Michigan State University)

While translocator proteins (TSPO) are clearly important for diverse organisms ranging from bacteria to humans, their roles in cells are not yet fully understood. TSPO is positioned in the outer mitochondrial membrane and binds small molecules, such as benzodiazepine, cholesterol, and porphyrin molecules. It has been implicated as having a role in a number of human diseases, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, as well as inflammation and tumor growth. Read more...

More SSRL-related Science

X-ray Microscope Reveals 'Solitons,' a Special Type of Magnetic Wave

Excerpted from November 16, 2015 SLAC News Feature


Using Beam Line 13-1 at SSRL, researchers have recently captured the first x-ray images of the magnetic version of solitons. A soliton is a type of wave that can travel without resistance. Scientists are exploring whether such magnetic waves can be used to carry and store information in a new, more efficient form of computer memory that requires less energy and generates less heat.

Magnetic solitons are remarkably stable and hold their shape and strength as they travel across a magnetic material, just as tsunamis maintain their strength and form while traversing the ocean. This offers an advantage over materials used in modern electronics, which require more energy to move data due to resistance, which causes them to heat up.

“Magnetism has been used for navigation for thousands of years and more recently to build generators, motors and data storage devices,” said co-author Hendrik Ohldag, a scientist at SSRL. “However, magnetic elements were mostly viewed as static and uniform. To push the limits of energy efficiency in the future we need to understand better how magnetic devices behave on fast timescales at the nanoscale, which is why we are using this dedicated ultrafast x-ray microscope.”

Results from two independent experiments on the topic were published Nov. 16 in Nature Communications and Sept. 17 in Physical Review LettersRead more...

Beam Line Updates

SSRL Crews Install, Upgrade and Repair Equipment during Shutdown

Adapted from December 1, 2015 SLAC Today Article

A number of beam line and equipment upgrade projects were completed during our annual shutdown period, which began in mid-August and ended last month.

Equipment installation progressed at BL15-2, a new beam line that will be used for advanced spectroscopy studies, such as those relevant to the photosynthesis cycle.

Instrumentation from BL6-2 is expected to be moved to BL15-2 next summer. The new beamline will enable time-resolved chemistry research and includes a partnership with DOE's Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP).

A second ARPES (angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy) station at BL5-2 is now undergoing commissioning and is expected to be ready for scientists in early 2016.

Also, new equipment was installed to support two end stations at Beam Line 16. The end stations – one for "soft" or low-energy x-ray research and the other for “hard” or high-energy x-ray research – will be used primarily for materials analysis. The soft x-ray end station will likely be commissed first - starting in 2016.

SSRL staff replaced several x-ray protective systems, called Compton masks, with devices that have an improved design. And they removed, repaired and reinstalled a failed undulator at Beam Line 13.

SSRL took delivery of a new undulator system for BL12-1, a new micro-focus crystallography beam line.  Design of the beam line optics and monochromator is currently underway.

A monochromator system was upgraded at BL7-2, and mirror system upgrades have been completed on BLs 9-2 and 9-3. Recommissioning of those lines is currently underway.

Progress toward adding an ultra-high-resolution imaging ptychography capability to BL13-1 was also made during the shutdown.  Commissioning is expected to begin in December for the beam line's upgraded scanning transmission x-ray microscope, which is designed to image features as small as 5 nanometers, or 5 billionths of a meter, and perhaps even smaller, using SSRL’s soft x-rays.

The aim is to study the active chemistry in a working battery at very small scales.  According to Johanna Nelson Weker, an associate staff scientist at SSRL, "We should be able to resolve changes within particles in an electrode to determine if particles interact or act alone," she said. And images from this technique could be analyzed in parallel with other types of x-ray images produced at SSRL to provide a fuller picture of the battery chemistry. 

BL4 Optics Upgrade Scheduled May-July 2016

In order to better serve our users, we have planned an upgrade to Beam Line 4 (BL4-1, BL4-2, and BL4-3) in 2016 to address degraded mirror performance over the last several years. After evaluating the SSRL-wide upgrade needs as well as limitations in available staff and resources, we have determined, considering all other options, that the best window for the BL4 mirror upgrade is May to July.  We anticipate recommissioning the BL4 mirror systems in July just prior to the annual summer shutdown.

We understand that this temporary outage of BL4 will likely disrupt user proposals and planned experiments. We ask for your patience, and we appreciate your continued support and communication.

Upcoming Events

RapiData 2016 - April 24-29, Menlo Park, CA

RapiData 2016 is a practical course in macromolecular x-ray diffraction data collection, data processing and structure solution.  The aim of the course is to educate and train young scientists in data collection and processing methods at synchrotron beam lines, using state-of-the-art software and instrumentation.  The Course is open for application and registration – please see the RapiData 2016 website


SLACafé Now Open

SLACafé is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, for grab-‘n’-go items; grilled sandwiches and burgers; an extensive salad bar featuring mixed salads and fresh salad ingredients; house-made soups; bakery items and hot and cold beverages, including regular and decaf non-specialty Starbucks coffee.

Introducing the New SLAC User Reservations Portal for Stanford Guest House

In response to user requests for better access to rooms at the Guest House, the Guest House created a new SLAC User Reservations Portal off of the Stanford Guest House main page. Users are encouraged to use this new method to access rooms and rates not accessible to other guests (users will need to identify the facility, proposal number and spokesperson when making reservations through the user reservations portal).

We would appreciate your feedback about this change and any other suggestions to improve the users' experience when visiting SLAC.

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.

Reminder:  SSRL provides technical tools for world-leading science at no charge for scientists who conduct non-proprietary research, with the understanding that significant results are to be publicly disseminated. Scientists must acknowledge use of the facility in presentations and publications and must inform us as research results are about to be published so that we have the latest information and can work with you to more broadly communicate your research.

User Research Administration

User Portal Update

An updated version of our User Portal is coming soon.  Our development team has been working extensively to convert our User Portal pages to a responsive, mobile-friendly interface.  The conversion work will continue after the initial unveiling - planned for early January - but users should immediately find the newly redesigned top level pages easier to navigate through.  Stay tuned.

Beam Time Request Deadline

January 21 is the next Macromolecular Crystallography Beam Time Request deadline for March - May scheduling.

Submit proposals and beam time requests through the user portal.

We encourage users to 'bookmark' this SSRL Deadlines page and set a reminder for these annual deadlines in their calendars. Deadline reminders are also included in 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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