LBNL Masthead A-Z IndexBerkeley Lab mastheadU.S. Department of Energy logoPhone BookJobsSearch
Quick Facts Print

The Advanced Light Source (ALS) is located in Berkeley, California. The original building, situated in the East Bay hills overlooking San Francisco Bay, was completed in 1942. Designed by Arthur Brown, Jr. (designer of the Coit Tower in San Francisco), the domed structure was built to house Berkeley Lab's namesake E. O. Lawrence's 184-inch cyclotron, an advanced version of his first cyclotron for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1939. Today, the expanded building houses the ALS, a third-generation synchrotron and national user facility that attracts scientists from around the world.




The ALS is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences

  • Construction costs: $ 99.5 million
  • Construction started: 1987
  • Construction completed: March 1993
  • Facility dedicated: October 22, 1993

facility facts


Visiting Researchers/Users


user stats


How the ALS Works

Electron bunches traveling at nearly the speed of light, when forced into a circular path by magnets, emit bright ultraviolet and x-ray light that shines down beamlines to experiment endstations.

accelerator facts


How Bright Is It?brightness chart

The ALS produces light in the x-ray region of the electromagnetic spectrum that is one billion times brighter than the sun. This extraordinary tool offers unprecedented opportunities for state-of-the art research in materials science, biology, chemistry, physics, and the environmental sciences.

Ongoing research topics and techniques include

  • probing the the electronic structure of matter,
  • semiconductors,
  • magnetic materials,
  • 3D-biological imaging,
  • protein crystallography,
  • ozone photochemistry,
  • x-ray microscopy of biological samples,
  • chemical reaction dynamics,
  • atomic and molecular physics,
  • optics testing.




For More Information

Download a PDF version (2.9 MB) of ALS Quick Facts and New Tools: Make New Investigations Possible

quick facts thumb new tools thumb


Visit the ALS

Public tours of Berkeley Lab and the Advanced Light Source are available through the Public Affairs Department; for more information see Berkeley Lab Tour Request Form.

Berkeley Lab's Center for Science and Engineering Education (CSEE) offers a variety of educational and internship opportunities for teachers and students. Tours and hands-on activities are available for K-8 students and schools as are  educational visits for older students.

The ALS also hosts visitors from the national and international scientific, industrial, and educational communities, as well as from government agencies in the U.S. and abroad; to see some of our recent guests, see ALS Visitors.