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Vol. 18, No. 5 - November/December 2017

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From the Director


We have reached the end of another successful and exciting year at SSRL and are entering the winter break of the user run.  I am grateful for the excellent outcome of the triennial DOE review that took place in May.  The review highlighted the strength of the science performed at SSRL and I want to thank our users and staff for keeping SSRL at the technological forefront.  I look forward to the challenges and opportunities the New Year will bring and look forward to seeing your return to SSRL in 2018.  On behalf of SSRL, I wish you all a Happy Holidays!

SLAC Power Outage – SSRL Website Down

Due to a planned SLAC power outage related to a new laboratory building project, the SSRL website and user portal will be down from December 26, 2017 through possibly January 2, 2018.  Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience.

Science Highlight


Finding a Needle in the Haystack: Identification of Functionally Important Minority Phases in an Operating BatteryContacts: Yijin Liu, Apurva Mehta (SSRL), Xiqian Yu (Institute of Physics Beijing) and Xiao-Qing Yang (BNL)

Batteries are engineered to be efficient enough while balancing other factors such as cost. This has generated batteries that commonly have side reactions, both expected and unexpected. Current technology allows scientists to delve into what reactions and phases are happening within a battery at high resolution over time. But in using these probes, so much data is generated that it can be hard to pick out important qualities from noise.  Read more...

Citation: Zhang et al., Nano Lett. (2017), doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.7b03985

SSRL-Related News

Scientists Discover Path to Improving Game-Changing Battery Electrode

Excerpted from December 12, 2017 SLAC Press Release

If you add more lithium to the positive electrode of a lithium-ion battery – overstuff it, in a sense – it can store much more charge in the same amount of space, theoretically powering an electric car 30 to 50 percent farther between charges. But these lithium-rich cathodes quickly lose voltage, and years of research have not been able to pin down why – until now.

After looking at the problem from many angles, researchers from Stanford University, SSRL, ALS and Samsung created a comprehensive picture of how the same chemical processes that give these cathodes their high capacity are also linked to changes in atomic structure that sap performance.

“This is good news,” said William E. Gent, a Stanford University graduate student and Siebel Scholar who led the study. “It gives us a promising new pathway for optimizing the voltage performance of lithium-rich cathodes by controlling the way their atomic structure evolves as a battery charges and discharges.”

Michael Toney, co-head of SSRL's Materials Sciences Division and a co-author of the paper, added, “It is a huge deal if you can get these lithium-rich electrodes to work because they would be one of the enablers for electric cars with a much longer range. There is enormous interest in the automotive community in developing ways to implement these, and understanding what the technological barriers are may help us solve the problems that are holding them back.”   Read more...

LIGO Mirror Coatings get an Upgrade with New Stanford-led National Collaboration

Excerpted from November 9, 2017 Stanford News Article by Vicky Stein

Stanford scientists will lead a new national cooperative effort, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration Center for Coatings Research, to improve detection of gravitational waves at the twin LIGO facilities.

The goal of the new center, comprising 10 US institutions and led at Stanford by Martin Fejer, Professor of Applied Physics, will be to improve LIGO’s sensitivity with better coatings for its interferometers. Researchers hope to have new materials ready in time for the next update to the LIGO facilities in as soon as three years. If they are successful and halve the amount of thermal noise from the mirror coatings, they could expand the volume of the universe that LIGO can observe eight times over current capabilities.

The coatings in question are comprised of multiple layers no larger than a few hundreds of nanometers in thickness each – hundreds of times thinner than a human hair. In the past, researchers have followed an iterative process, creating a new coating and then testing it, hoping to improve on previous versions.

Through the new center, Stanford will be leading researchers and facilities across the country in what they hope will be a more targeted approach. For example, working with collaborators at SSRL, scientists can inspect newly devised mirror coatings at an atomic level. With this critical mass of funding and participation, “rather than following this trial-and-error Edisonian approach, we can come to a materials-by-design process,” said Stanford researcher Riccardo Bassiri. “Ultimately, the reward of developing better coatings for LIGO will be to further enable exploration of the universe through gravitational wave astronomy.”

The Center for Coatings Research is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the National Science Foundation.  Read more...

Upcoming Events

RapiData 2018 – April 22-27, 2018, Menlo Park, CA

RapiData 2018 at SSRL is a practical course in macromolecular x-ray diffraction data collection, data processing and structure solution. The aim of the RapiData 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 will comprise hands-on experiments at the SSRL beam lines, software tutorials, and lectures on the following topics:

  • Specimen preparation, tactics in data collection
  • X-ray light sources
  • X-ray detectors
  • Data reduction
  • Structure solving by MAD, SAD and Molecular replacement
  • Complementary methods (spectroscopy and small angle scattering)

The deadline for applications is December 22, 2017.  For more information and to apply see the course announcement.

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

50 Years of Synchrotron Radiation in the UK and Its Global Impact (UKSR50), June 26-29,2018, Liverpool, UK

Save the date for UKSR50 - a conference hosted by the University of Liverpool to celebrate SR-related achievements over the past 50 years and explore the future of the light sources (Synchrotrons and FELs) and their applications in the coming decades. Early Bird registration for the conference ends 12/31/2017.  Conference website


UNESCO Proclaims May 16th as the International Day of Light


The proclamation of this annual International Day will enable global appreciation of the central role that light and light-based technologies play in the lives of the citizens of the world in areas of science, technology, culture, education, and sustainable development. The International Day of Light is an enduring follow-up to UNESCO’s highly successful International Year of Light in 2015 that reached over 100 million people in over 140 countries. Learn more...

User Research Administration

SSRL Beam Time Request Deadlines

  • January 18, 2018 – Macromolecular Crystallography requests for March-May 2018
  • February 5, 2018 – X-ray/VUV beam time requests for April-July 2018

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