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Research Areas Print

Scientists from a wide variety of fields come to the ALS to perform experiements. Listed below are some of the most common research areas covered by ALS beamlines. Below each heading are a few examples of the specific types of topics included in that category. Click on a heading to learn more about that research area at the ALS.

Energy Science

Photovoltaics, photosynthesis, biofuels, energy storage, combustion, catalysis, carbon capture/sequestration.


General biology, structural biology.

Materials/Condensed Matter

Correlated materials, nanomaterials, magnetism, polymers, semiconductors, water, advanced materials.


Atomic, molecular, and optical (AMO) physics; accelerator physics.


Surfaces/interfaces, catalysts, chemical dynamics (gas-phase chemistry), crystallography, physical chemistry.


Earth and planetary science, bioremediation, climate change, water chemistry.

Applied Science/Techniques

Optics, extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography, metrology, instrumentation, detectors, new synchrotron techniques.



The experimental techniques in use at the ALS fall into three broad categories: spectroscopy, diffraction, and imaging. In addition, some techniques are capable of capturing changes over time. Click on a heading to learn more about these techniques at the ALS.


These techniques are used to study the energies of particles that are emitted or absorbed by samples that are exposed to the light-source beam and are commonly used to determine the characteristics of chemical bonding and electron motion.


These techniques make use of the patterns of light produced when x rays are deflected by the closely spaced lattice of atoms in solids and are commonly used to determine the structures of crystals and large molecules such as proteins.


These techniques use the light-source beam to obtain pictures with fine spatial resolution of the samples under study and are used in diverse research areas such as cell biology, lithography, infrared microscopy, radiology, and x-ray tomography.


These techniques exploit the pulsed nature of the light-source beam to take a series of snap-shots that, together, can form a moving picture of the changes in a sample over time.