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ALSNews Vol. 302 Print
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 00:00

In This Issue

Berkeley Lab Guest House Officially Opens

Safety First: Shielding-Control End Points Established

Site Access Tied to GERT Training Starting October 1

Harnessing the Bacterial Production of Nanomagnets

Eli Rotenberg Awarded First Kai Seigbahn Prize

UEC Corner: In Haiku, by Ken Goldberg

ALS Science Cafe Attracts Overflow Crowd

Shutdown Features Seismic Retrofit, Air Handler Replacement


News Links

Boron-based compounds trick a biomedical protein

Gunning for free electrons

Lab Visitor: Undersecretary of Science Steve Koonin

Stimulus Funding: PBD Gets $433,000 from NIH for Robotic Study of Molecules

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Berkeley Lab Guest House Officially Opens

"Just looking at the view here, I'm feeling like we really should be able to make sure this place is sold out; it shouldn't be that hard to do," joked Berkeley Lab Interim Director Paul Alivisatos in introductory remarks before cutting the ribbon to open the Berkeley Lab Guest House on September 21. With the brilliant afternoon sun overhead and the fog-shrouded San Francisco skyline as a backdrop, the event's organizers couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day to showcase a project that's been over 15 years in the making. "It has been obvious from the beginning," observed Janos Kirz, that in a facility that serves 2000 users a year delivering beam 24/7, that "users will sometimes also need food and shelter." Janos, standing in for ALS Director Roger Falcone who was unable to attend, gave a great deal of credit for the Guest House to the continuous advocacy of Gary Krebs who, as head of user services for the ALS, fought for such a building over many years.

Ribbon cutters

From left: Ken Goldberg (ALS Users' Executive Committee), Aundra Richards (DOE Berkeley Site Office), Paul Alivisatos (Berkeley Lab), Eddie Bankston (UC Berkeley Residential & Student Service Programs), Ron Nelson (UC Office of the President), Janos Kirz (ALS), and Kirk Haley (Facilities Division).

Jerry Ohearn of Berkeley Lab's Facilities Division also spoke at the ceremony, thanking the legion of people and organizations supporting the guest house, including the Department of Energy (DOE), the University of California (UC), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Donald MacDonald Architects, W.E. Lyons Construction, and Facilities Division. For the ALS, he recognized Roger Falcone, Janos Kirz, Gary Krebs, current user services leader Sue Bailey, Steve Rossi (the ALS user representative who attended every meeting to make sure that the facility would meet the needs of ALS users), and Users' Executive Committe (UEC) chair Ken Goldberg. At the ceremony, Ken spoke of seeing "exhausted users occupying the couches and alcoves of the ALS, with their bedrolls and empty microwave noodle containers." Now, thanks to a remarkable effort, he said, the quality of life here is about to change. ALS users will now have "a great, convenient, and comfortable place to sleep, to quietly analyze their data between shifts, to meet with colleagues in a room with a great view, and to have their own kitchenette, where presumably they will make something a little bit more substantial and possibly more healthy than microwave noodles."

Management of the Guest House is provided by UC Berkeley Residential & Student Service Programs. For more information or to make reservations, go to the Guest House Web site.

Guest House interiors

Left: Guest House lobby. Right: Large room with two queen beds.

Safety First: Shielding-Control End Points Established

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The long task of establishing shielding-control end points for 15 soft x-ray beamlines is now complete. An end point defines a spot in a soft x-ray beamline downstream of which users can have the freedom to change their equipment around without introducing a radiation hazard. Users are encouraged to consult with the floor operations staff or the relevant beamline scientist to confirm what restrictions apply to their particular situation.

In the early days of ALS operation, the configuration of the hard x-ray beamlines—especially the superbend beamlines—was carefully controlled to avoid having scattered synchrotron radiation exit the pipe. In the soft x-ray beamlines, this hazard is minimal, because they operate under vacuum and the synchrotron beam is completely attenuated by any closed valve. However, the ALS facility is required to control the configuration of all beamlines to ensure that no modifications are made that could introduce a radiation hazard. So shielding control was extended to the entire vacuum envelope of every beamline, and our excellent floor operations staff administer this policy. At the same time, our scientists do need free access to their soft x-ray endstations to perform their experiments.

The end points resolve this difficulty by defining a place in a soft x-ray line downstream of which no conceivable change to the configuration could introduce a radiation hazard. When this idea was put forward in 2007, a great deal of discussion ensued: ALS staff members are safety conscious, diligent, and empowered. We arrived at a prescription that requires the angles of reflections in the beamline to be monitored, annually, by the survey crew. One by one we examined all the soft x-ray lines and established the end points. The process was completed last month. Many thanks to Rick Donahue (radiation physics), Davy Xu (floor ops), and Alex Gavidia (survey) for pursuing the task to the end, as well as to everybody else involved and to Jim Floyd (ES&H) and Rick Bloemhard (operations) for motivation.

Floyd and friends

Floor operations staffers Matt Abreu (left) and John Pruyn (right) are happy to be done with this task, and Jim Floyd (center) feels relieved, with the last endpoint established at Beamline 6.0.2.

Site Access Tied to GERT Training Starting October 1

GERT coverBerkeley Lab Interim Director Paul Alivisatos has announced that, on October 1, there will be a significant change in how the Lab controls access to the site. Starting that day, the Lab's safety training database will be linked to the badge access system. When you swipe your badge at any badge reader, the system will determine if you have a valid badge and are current with General Employee Radiological Training (GERT). If both requirements are not met, the badge reader will deny access. This includes room, building, and site-level access. This means that Lab employees and users who do not meet these two conditions cannot enter any area that requires card access during business hours, and will not be allowed on site after hours or on weekends.

Everyone with a badge is required by DOE regulations to be aware of the potential hazards associated with radioactive materials and radiation-producing machines, such as x-ray machines, electron-beam devices, and accelerators. GERT fulfills this requirement, and retraining is required every two years. We have an outstanding record of protecting our staff from radiation exposure, and this training plays a key role in ensuring that everyone working here has a basic understanding of radiation, its hazards, and how we control exposure here at the Lab. GERT training is available online. For more information, see the ALS Required Safety Training Web page.

Harnessing the Bacterial Production of Nanomagnets

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Nanometer-size magnets have wide-ranging uses, from directed cancer therapy and drug delivery systems to magnetic recording media and transducers. Such applications require the production of nanoparticles with well-controlled size and tunable magnetic properties. The synthesis of such nanomagnets, however, often requires elevated temperatures and toxic solvents, resulting in high environmental and energy costs. Metal-reducing microorganisms offer an untapped resource to produce these materials in an environmentally benign way. At the ALS, researchers from the University of Manchester have shown that Fe(III)-reducing bacteria can be used to synthesize magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with high yields, narrow size distribution, and magnetic properties equal to the best chemically synthesized materials. Read more...

Biogenic Nanomagnets

Publication about this research: V.S. Coker, N.D. Telling, G. van der Laan, R.A.D. Pattrick, C.I. Pearce, E. Arenholz, F. Tuna, R. Winpenny, and J.R. Lloyd, "Harnessing the extracellular bacterial production of nanoscale cobalt ferrite with exploitable magnetic properties," ACS Nano 3, 1922 (2009).

Eli Rotenberg Awarded First Kai Siegbahn Prize

Eli RotenbergThe editors of the scientific journal, "Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section A," have awarded to Eli Rotenberg (ALS Scientific Support Group Deputy Leader) the first Kai Siegbahn Prize, named in honor of the journal's founder. The award citation recognizes Eli for "the creation and development of the 'Electronic Structure Factory' end-station at the Advanced Light Source, which could legitimately be called the most useful ARPES end-station in the World. This endstation has been used to tease out many first results in a wide variety of complex and exotic materials. Eli Rotenberg's artful application of ARPES has greatly contributed to the understanding of some of the quantum electronic properties of nano-phase and reduced dimensionality materials. His scientific achievements are reported in tens of publications on the most prestigious journals of physics and scientific magazines."

The Kai Siegbahn Prize was established to recognize and encourage outstanding experimental achievement in synchrotron radiation research with a significant component of instrument development, particularly of synchrotron radiation spectroscopies. The selection committee consisted of Fulvio Parmigiani, committee chair, Universita di Trieste, editor, NIMA; William Barletta, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, coordinating editor, NIMA; Erik Karlsson, Uppsala University; Friso van der Veen, ETH Zurich; and Ingolf Lindau, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

UEC Corner: In Haiku, by Ken Goldberg

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Autumn in Berkeley
ALS users converge
jointly with Foundry

Energy focus:
Talks, posters, Workshops
Or come for the food

ALS User
with great ideas to share
Join the UEC!

Three shifts in a row,
Now a great new place to sleep
Berkeley Lab Guest House

UEC Corner:
Chairman squints at LCD.
Do people read this?

I'm looking forward to seeing you at the meeting!

ALS Science Cafe Attracts Overflow Crowd

The ALS kicked off its inaugural Science Cafe on Thursday, August 27, to a packed house of scientists and staff. The program, designed to showcase current research in an informal environment, included three scientists invited to present work on energy research and technology underway at their beamlines. Speakers included Alastair MacDowell, who discussed the challenges of CO2 sequestration and opportunities for user research in this area, Alejandro Cruz detailing Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) collaborations in bioenergy research at Beamline 1.4, and Matthew Marcus presenting work on solar cells. Each ten-minute presentation was followed by an "energetic" discussion that engaged staff and users. The next Science Cafe will be held in early November (in a larger room!).

Matthew Marcus

Matthew Marcus (center, standing) prepares to give a "3-slide" presentation on solar cells to an overflow crowd at the first ALS Science Cafe. Fellow presenter Alejandro Cruz (center, sitting) listens attentively.

Shutdown Features Seismic Retrofit, Air Handler Replacement

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Another safe and successful shutdown of the ALS is wrapping up. This month's shutdown was dominated by facility projects that included the final phase of the seismic retrofit of the ALS dome, replacement of two of the three air handlers that provide cooling to the experiment floor, a rebuild of the low-conductivity water towers that provide cooling to the accelerator, and utility connections for the User Support Building, currently under construction.

Technical work on the accelerator was reasonably limited, but a number of important items were accomplished, such as maintenance replacement of the superbend cold heads, testing of a new digital controller for the booster power supplies, and commissioning of new high-level accelerator controls.

As usual there were a myriad of smaller beamline projects completed as well, such as an inspection of the Beamline 5.0 carbon filter foils, a configuration change of PEEM3 at Beamline 11.0.1, and a survey and realignment of Beamline 8.2.2, to name a few.


For the user runs from August 18 to 31, the beam reliability [(time scheduled - time lost)/time scheduled)] was 98.6%. For this period, the mean time between failures (MTBF) was 61.5 hours, and the mean time to recovery (MTTR) was 53 minutes. There were no significant interruptions.

The ALS shut down on September 1 for scheduled installations and maintenance. User operation is scheduled to resume on October 6.

More detailed information on reliability is available on the ALS reliability bulletin board, which is located in the hallway between the ALS and the control room in Building 80. Questions about beam reliability should be directed to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (x4376 ).

Long-term and weekly operations schedules are available here. Requests for special operations use of the "scrubbing" shift should be sent to Rick Bloemhard ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , x4738) by 1:00 p.m. Friday. View the ring status in real time here.