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SSRL Headlines Vol. 11, No. 9  March, 2011


Contents of this Issue:

  1. From the Director of SSRL: SAC Feedback and Evolving Strategic Plan
  2. To our Friends and Colleagues in Japan
  3. Science Highlight — Mixing of Active Layer Components in Plastic Solar Cells
  4. Science Highlight — Small Structural Changes can Cause Significant Functional Changes in Oxygen-Binding Enzymes
  5. SLAC Starts Photon Science Seminar Series
  6. 2011 SSRL/LCLS Users' Meeting and Workshops, October 24-26
  7. Summer School on Synchrotron X-Ray Absorption Spectroscopy, June 28-July 1
  8. Workshop on XAS and RIXS Data Analysis Using CTM4XAS and CTM4RIXS, May 24
  9. A Science to Art, an Art to Science
  10. User Administration Update
  11. End of Run Summaries Now Online
  12. NUFO Goes to Washington

1.   From the Director of SSRL: SAC Feedback and Evolving Strategic Plan

Chi-Chang Kao
Chi-Chang Kao
We have received the report from the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) meeting held at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource on January 10-11. In the report, the committee provides valuable feedback on the strategy, new scientific directions and proposed facility upgrades presented at the meeting.

Specifically, the committee concurs that SSRL's strategy to establish strategic partnerships with federal agencies, national laboratories and academia as the basis to develop new research programs is clearly an appropriate and extremely effective one, as it leverages SSRL's truly unique and long-standing relationship with Stanford University. The committee also agrees that the energy-related initiatives in catalysis and nano-materials recently launched at SLAC offer unique opportunities for partnerships-as well as a competitive advantage for SSRL to establish itself as a leader in this important and continuously growing area. Moreover, the committee recommends that we pursue vigorously the establishment of a complementary and synergistic scientific program with SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source, and suggests new research directions, in particular materials under extreme conditions. The committee also supports a proposed upgrade of the experimental facilities to enhance the ongoing research programs, and makes valuable suggestions on how SSRL can integrate multiple experimental techniques and research tools within SSRL to address important scientific problems.

However, the committee also cautions that we need to focus on a small number of areas, being sure to understand the impact on existing research programs as we develop new programs. In particular, the committee recommends further investigation of the consequences of low-alpha mode operation, especially about how this mode will influence general users not involved in low-alpha experiments. Finally, the committee recommends further investigation of the costs and consequences of reduced emittance operation.

We will incorporate the SAC's valuable input into SSRL's evolving strategic plan and will continue to work with members of the SAC in the coming months. In parallel, we have developed a communication plan to engage the user community in the strategic planning process. Most importantly, as major components of the strategic plan are developed, we will circulate them to the user community for your input and feedback. At that point it will be very important for you to tell us if our plans align with your needs.

This is an exciting time and I look forward to planning SSRL's future together.

—Chi-Chang Kao

2.   To our Friends and Colleagues in Japan
       (contacts: Cathy Knotts,; Lisa Dunn;

Our thoughts and hearts go out to our Japanese colleagues, friends and their families as they recover from the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami. It seems unimaginable that the lives of an entire nation can be changed in a 4-minute span of time, but we hear the news and see the images coming out of Japan and know that this is true. We extend our deepest condolences and our support to everyone who has been affected by this great tragedy.

As a research facility, SSRL can unfortunately do little to help with Japan's biggest needs right now. But we can help in a small way by facilitating some of the experimental needs of the temporarily displaced Photon Factory user community. We are working with the Photon Factory Director, Prof. Soichi Wakatsuki, to define the process. We have a number of rapid access mechanisms available for anyone wishing to expedite the proposal to beamtime process. More information is available on our User Resources website.

3.  Science Highlight — Mixing of Active Layer Components in Plastic Solar Cells
       (contact: Michael Chabinyc,

Organic or plastic solar cells have achieved efficiencies greater than 8%, close to the estimated 10% needed to make them economically viable. To close the gap, researchers need to improve control of the nanostructure of the active layer of these organic solar cells.

Recently, scientists from the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB) and SSRL studied a common active layer that contains a partly crystalline polymer (P3HT) and a fullerene (PCBM) to better understand the ability of the two components to mix during the manufacturing process. The researchers studied the structure and morphology of the active layer through combined depth profiling measurements at UCSB and x-ray diffraction at SSRL Beam Line 11-3. These methods allowed them to determine that PCBM is mobile in disordered regions of the P3HT polymer, and moves without disrupting the P3HT crystalline structure. This interdiffusion of PCBM in the P3HT polymer was observed at relatively low temperatures and was rapid at typical processing temperatures (e.g. 150°C).

These studies suggest that in P3HT - PCBM organic solar cells there is a driving force toward a three phase mixture: pure P3HT crystallites, pure amorphous PCBM, and a mixture of disordered P3HT and PCBM. This more complete understanding of the mixing behavior of the components in blends may help make organic solar cells economically viable. This work was published in the January 1, 2011, issue of Advanced Energy Materials.

P3HT/PCBM image
Cross section SEM images of a P3HT/d-PCBM/Si bilayer annealed at a) 70°C, b) 110°C, and c) 150°C for 5 min. d) DSIMS profiles of 2H in bilayer samples of P3HT and d-PCBM annealed from 5 minutes at different temperatures.

To learn more about this research see the full scientific highlight

4.  Science Highlight — Small Structural Changes can Cause Significant Functional Changes in Oxygen-Binding Enzymes
       (contact: Riti Sarangi,

highlight figure
Dioxygen (O2), critical for many of our cellular processes, is carried and activated by a variety of enzymes. These enzymes contain metals that contact the oxygen in different ways to form reactive intermediates. Oxygen's reactivity is affected by the arrangement of the enzymes' amino acid residues. Often, the enzyme active site will have a unique structure to stabilize oxygen binding.

A team of scientists led by Prof. Wonwoo Nam of Ewha Womans University in South Korea in collaboration with researchers at Stanford University and SSRL used Beam Lines 7-3 and 9-3 to analyze the properties of a series of metal-O2 intermediate models with cyclic ligands. They prepared these to represent nitrogen based ligand systems in metallo-enzyme active sites. Using x-ray absorption spectroscopy and EXAFS data, as well as DFT calculations, they found changes in the ring size of the ligand can have pronounced effect on the binding geometry and activation of oxygen.

The researchers conclude that small changes in a binding site structure can result in large changes in oxygen activation. These studies provide insight into how nature uses protein residues to tune function. This work was recently published in articles in Nature Chemistry, Journal of the American Chemical Society, and in Inorganic Chemistry.

To learn more about this research see the full scientific highlight

5.   SLAC Starts Photon Science Seminar Series
       (contact: Kelen Tuttle,

March 30 2011 Seminar
Last month, SLAC launched a new photon science seminar series that brings together scientists from the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, Linac Coherent Light Source, Photon Science, and Accelerator Directorates, including researchers from the Center for Sustainable Energy through Catalysis and two joint SLAC-Stanford institutes: the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Science and the Pulse Institute for Ultrafast Energy Science.

The series, which seeks to stimulate scientific exchange within SLAC's photon science community, focuses on recent results of photon science research at SLAC. Speakers aim to present their work at a level of technicality accessible to researchers across disciplines.

The lectures take place every Wednesday, starting with light refreshments at 3:00 p.m. in SLAC's Redtail Hawk conference room. We look forward to seeing you there!

More information and details about upcoming lectures can be found on the seminar series webpage.

6.   2011 SSRL/LCLS Users' Meeting and Workshops, October 24-26
       (contacts: Joshua Turner, Sam Webb, Serena DeBeer and Martin Nielsen)

Mark your calendar for the annual SSRL/LCLS Users' Meeting and Workshops, which will take place October 24-26, 2011. Parallel and join sessions covering science highlights and photon science topics of interest are planned. In addition, the conference organizers, Serena DeBeer (Cornell), Martin Nielsen (U. Copenhagen), Josh Turner (LCLS) and Sam Webb (SSRL), seek suggestions for workshop topics and volunteers to help organize the workshops. Please contact any of the organizers with suggestions or to volunteer.

Also, please start to think about topics which you may want to share through contributed talks or poster presentations, and consider nominating your colleagues for awards which will be presented at the annual Users' Meeting. The call for abstracts and award nominations will follow shortly.

7.   Summer School on Synchrotron X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy, June 28-July 1
       (contacts: Riti Sarangi,; John Bargar,

SSRL will conduct the Summer School on Synchrotron X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy on June 28-July 1. The goal of the four-day school is to provide training in theory, experimental design, data acquisition strategies and data analysis useful to both beginners and advanced students. K-edge, EXAFS and advanced spectroscopic techniques applicable to relevant systems in the fields of biology, environmental sciences, catalysis and material sciences will be presented. The practical training session will focus on teaching detailed experimental procedures at SSRL Beam Lines 11-2, 7-3, 4-1 and 2-3 and data analysis techniques (basic and advanced). More information will be available soon on the SSRL events webpage. We hope to see you there.

8.   Workshop on XAS and RIXS Data Analysis Using CTM4XAS and CTM4RIXS, May 24
       (contact: Riti Sarangi,

On May 24, Utrecht University Prof. Frank de Groot will present a comprehensive lecture and hands-on analysis session on XAS charge transfer multiplets using CTM4XAS, which is a semi-empirical program that includes important interactions for the calculation of x-ray spectra of transition metal systems. The workshop will feature XAS, MCD, XPS and XES data analysis with CTM4XAS. In addition, Prof. de Groot will also discuss CTM4RIXS, an interactive tool to calculate and visualize resonant inelastic x-ray scattering spectra. CTM4RIXS allows 2p3d, 3p3d, 1s2p and 1s3p RIXS spectra to be calculated.

The lecture and workshop will be held at SSRL on May 24. Space will be limited for the workshop; online registration will soon go live on the SSRL events webpage, so for now please save the date. In addition, Prof. de Groot will present a SLAC lecture on May 25. This lecture will be open to everyone.

If you would like more information on CTM4XAS and CTM4RIXS or to download the software, see the CTM4XAS website

9.   A Science to Art, an Art to Science
       March 3, 2011 SLAC Today article by Lori Ann White

March 30 2011 Seminar
An Attic black-figured amphora, currently in the British Museum, of the type that will be studied here at SLAC. (Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen.)
What do lithium ion batteries and 2500-year-old Greek pottery have in common? One answer is surfaces. And surfaces are where chemistry happens.

SSRL staff scientist Apurva Mehta is careful to emphasize the plural-surfaces. Often, many, differing surfaces exist on one sample, which means a variety of chemical reactions can occur on one material. According to Mehta, such material is "hierarchically heterogeneous." In other words, it displays different behaviors depending on the size scale.

"There's a whole class of materials with structure at all different levels," Mehta explained, "and something happening at every level that's important." He offered soil as an example. "Soil has large rocks, small rocks, porosities. Depending on the size of the soil particles, contamination in groundwater trickling through that soil moves at different rates, reacts at different rates, and reacts with different materials." For scientists to understand what happens in total, Mehta said, they have to know what happens at all levels, on all surfaces. Read more in SLAC Today:

10.   User Administration Update
       (contacts: Cathy Knotts,; Lisa Dunn,

Beam time requests for the June to July 25 macromolecular crystallography scheduling period are due April 20. Learn more at and submit requests via the user portal at

New x-ray/VUV proposals are due June 1 for beam time starting in fall 2011. Please note that our current experimental run ends on July 25. We plan to resume user operations in late November or the beginning of December 2011.

11.   End of Run Summaries Now Online
       (contacts: Cathy Knotts,; Lisa Dunn,

Last Month, the SSRL User Portal began sending automated e-mails asking users who are about to finish a run to fill out an online end-of-run summary. In addition to clicking on the link in the e-mail, users can also access the online end-of-run summary by logging onto the User Portal and selecting "End of Run Summary" from the top navigation bar. From there users can navigate to their SSRL or LCLS proposals and select end-of-run summaries for specific beam lines and dates in the "Beam Time Information" section.

The end-of-run summary offers users the chance to provide feedback on their beam time at SSRL and share suggestions on how services at the light source can be enhanced. The comments provided are extremely important to the User Research Administration team. Thanks for your response!

12.   NUFO Goes to Washington
       (contact: Cathy Knotts,

On April 7, the National User Facility Organization (NUFO), of which the SSRL is a member, will be holding an exhibition of user facility science on Capitol Hill. This exhibition, to be held in the Rayburn Foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building, will include posters from 39 national user facilities, with an emphasis on the science being conducted at each. Each facility is expected to have representatives to interact with visitors to the exhibition. Representing SSRL will be Mike Toney (SSRL), Chris Kim (Chapman University) and Cathy Knotts, who is a member of the NUFO Steering Committee. Leaders from various government agencies, members of the U.S. Congress and their staff have been invited to attend. For further information, visit


SSRL Headlines is published electronically monthly to inform SSRL users, sponsors and other interested people about happenings at SSRL. SSRL is a national synchrotron user facility operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences. Additional support for the structural biology program is provided by the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research, the NIH National Center for Research Resources and the NIH Institute for General Medical Sciences. Additional information about SSRL and its operation and schedules is available from the SSRL WWW site.


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Last Updated: 30 March 2011
Headlines Editor: K. Tuttle