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Ring Leaders
October 2010 Print

Rick Bloemhard, Operations Group Leader

As the Operations Group Leader at the ALS, I supervise the Control Room Accelerator Operators, the Experiment Floor Operators, and the ALS Procedures Center. My deputies are Warren Byrne in the control room and John Pruyn for the Floor Operations Section. I consider myself very fortunate to have a highly diverse, talented, and dedicated team of people to carry out the important tasks associated with daily operation of the light source. There is a palpable sense of professional pride to provide the best machine reliability to users.

The control room is staffed 24 hours per day with one or two operators. Control Room Operators are the first contact point for ALS staff and users when any type of emergency occurs. They are trained in industrial First Aid and each of them is also a member of the ALS Building Emergency Team.

The Control Room Operators are faced with thousands of parts, many control systems, and control programs that they must understand and manipulate to produce the intense and steady beams of light at the ALS. It can take up to one year for new operators to qualify for a solo shift. One of the trickier aspects of an operator’s job is the art of troubleshooting the machine when things go awry. They must often balance a desire to fully understand problems (to prevent re-occurrences) against the users' need for a quick return of light. The Electronic Maintenance staff, whose shop is also manned 24 hours per day, often work with operators in these cases.

To help foster good communications between the beamline scientists and users on the experiment floor and the operators in the control room, the Operations Group has been experimenting with cross-training some people to serve as both Floor and Control Room Operators. This has been going well and we are achieving the intended results.

Floor Operators maintain control of the beamline radiation-shielding configuration. Because the ALS relies on administrative control of these very important personnel safety items, the Floor Operators must be intimately familiar with each beamline and its peculiarities. Floor Operators must stay attuned to all of the work occurring on each beamline, and make sure all shielding work is performed correctly and kept under control. If a beamline has been taken offline, Floor Operators will not re-enable its shutters unless all required steps have taken place and been documented. While the process may seem restrictive, its thoroughness helps maintain compliance with ALS and DOE procedural guidelines.

The Procedures Center is managed by Karen Nunez (who is backed by Tennessee Gock). She maintains more than 360 operational and maintenance procedures for ALS groups. These procedures are reviewed and updated as changes necessitate, and per scheduled periodic review. We are fortunate to have a detail-oriented staff who are committed to the Procedure Center's success.

The ALS operators are a knowledgeable and friendly group. If you would like to learn more about what we do, please feel free to stop by and chat with us in the control room.

Operations Group staff:

oeprations 1

operations 2

operations 3

L to R: John Pruyn (Floor Operations Section Leader), Michael Beaudrow (CR Accelerator Operator), and Matthew Abreu (FO). L to R: Angelic Pearson, Scott Stricklin, and Chit Hlaing (all CR Accelerator Operators). Kenneth Osborne (FO) and David Brothers (CR).


Operations Group staff not pictured: Haris Mahic, Karen Nunez, David Richardson, Davy Xu

ALSNews Vol. 314

September 2010 Print

Steve Rossi, Project and Facility Management

Steve Rossi

The ALS Project and Facility Management Group manages a diverse range of activities that support the operation of the ALS and of larger ALS projects. The latest and most visible project is, of course, the User Support Building. For this construction project we managed all the programming of space, made interior and exterior design choices, coordinated the actual construction activities with the operation of the ALS, and represented the project in DOE reviews. For technical projects, we work with the Engineering Division staff to ensure that the proper controls are in place and that ALS Management can monitor project progress and performance.

The Project and Facility Management Group works extensively with the Facilities Division and Senior Lab Management to maintain our buildings and ensure the proper and reliable delivery of the myriad utilities it takes to run the accelerator. These activities range from the mundane, such as getting light bulbs replaced, to larger efforts like upgrading the low-conductivity water plant that cools the accelerator (6000 gallons of water per minute!).

We also use our planning and execution strengths to support many small projects, including tasks on both the technical and facility sides such as space planning, installing hutches, improving magnet temperature monitoring capabilities, improving communication between Engineering and Operations staff, etc.

Our group manages work planning for all work done by the Engineering staff and vendors. We've developed a database to track all maintenance activities and are in the process of rolling out a preventative maintenance program to aid in the reliable operation of the accelerator. We coordinate all work that takes place during our major shutdowns, and help to plan the work so that we can make best use of our available staff to accomplish as much possible during our very valuable down times. A typical shutdown schedule contains over 500 tasks.

ALSNews Vol. 313

August 2010 Print

Jim Floyd, Environment, Health and Safety

Jim Flyod

The Lab’s Environment, Health and Safety Division continues to reach out to the research community for ideas on how to improve its policies and processes. Many staff at the ALS are actively involved with efforts to make these more effective. Recent examples include accelerator safety, cryogenics, welding, hot work permits, on-line training, Job Hazard Analyses (JHAs), access control, subcontractor safety, emergency response, and work planning. If you have any ideas for how to improve a part of our safety program, now is the time to let us know.

We’re working with the User Services Office to redesign the web portal for users. One priority is the Experiment Safety Sheet (ESS) for which we hope to upgrade both the Doug Taubesafety review process and its web interface. We have already established an advisory group and will be encouraging input along the way.

You may have seen a new face in the last few months. Doug Taube joined the safety team in May and will be working directly with users in the Chemistry Lab and at the beamlines reviewing sample materials. He has a PhD in Chemistry and has both a research and EHS background in private industry. With him, we hope to continue to improve our service in helping users to work efficiently and safely.

ALSNews Vol. 312

July 2010 Print

Patrick Naulleau, Acting Director of the Center for X-Ray Optics

Patrick Naulleau

Although we are part of the Materials Sciences Division (MSD), the Center for X-Ray Optics (CXRO) has enjoyed long standing and multifaceted collaborations with the ALS since its earliest days. We are ALS users, beamline scientists, engineers, and technicians who have built and operate numerous beamlines around the ALS. As the new Acting Director of CXRO, I look forward to expanding and deepening our close collaborations with the ALS community.

CXRO is a one of a kind facility with over 25 years experience providing short wavelength optical solutions. From instrument development to world-leading scientific discovery, our vertically integrated structure allows us to tackle a full spectrum of research. CXRO pursues a broad range of projects to address national needs and technological challenges that impact materials, life, environmental sciences, and x-ray optics. The Center’s current projects are concentrated in five focus areas, and our work supports the basic operations of several beamlines.

On XM-1 (ALS Beamline 6.1.2) our soft x-ray microscopy program led by Peter Fischer drives research in nanoscience, reaching spatial resolutions as small as 10 nm. Nanoscale magnetism, materials and environmental science, and energy related research are among the primary research areas. Peter supports an active ALS user program in addition to the highly successful MSD program in nanomagnetism.

Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography is the future of computer chip fabrication. CXRO runs two major industry-funded programs in this space. One is my own area of research: The Micro-field Exposure Tool (MET) (ALS Beamline 12.0.1). which is focused on the development of ultra-high resolution EUV patterning tools and methods to study advanced lithographic materials. Our second EUV program, the SEMATECH Berkeley Actinic Inspection Tool (AIT) (ALS Beamline 11.3.2) is lead by Kenneth Goldberg (see this month’s highlight Investigating EUV Lithography Mask Defects). Our EUV mask inspection program develops instruments and techniques to study the unique EUV response to defects, mask architectures, and defect repair strategies years ahead of commercial EUV imaging tools.

Wavefront and coherence control are the keys to nanoscale imaging, pattering, nano-focusing, and brightness preservation for synchrotrons and future FEL light sources. CXRO research in these areas includes Fourier synthesis illuminators, holographic coherence control, and 50-picometer-accuracy wavefront metrology. These concepts are woven into our experimental system designs. Wavefront metrology specifically is the subject of a joint ALS/MSD LDRD project on ALS Beamline 5.3.1. This work sets the stage for current and future instruments at the ALS as well as the NGLS.

The CXRO Reflectometer (ALS Beamline 6.3.2) run by Eric Gullikson serves as a worldwide calibration standard for the EUV/soft-x-ray community. Accurate material, coating, and detector calibrations have enabled tremendous progress in multilayers, and in short wavelength optical systems over the past 15 years.

Beyond the ALS walls, CXRO operates facilities and conducts advanced research in areas critical to everything we do: multilayer coatings, nanofabrication including diffractive optical elements, and precision engineering.

Eric Gullikson heads our advanced coatings lab, supporting CXRO and ALS beamlines and delivering custom coatings to groups worldwide. CXRO also develops coatings for frontier projects with broadband attosecond optical elements.

Erik Anderson and Weilun Chao run the vital nanofabrication facilities that produce optics and custom nanostructures for every CXRO beamline, and many other beamlines at the ALS, including the National Center for X-Ray Tomography (NCXT). CXRO zoneplates deliver high performance imaging to light sources around the world, and our nanofabrication expertise supports a host of other research activities including support for the magnetic storage and semiconductor industries.

The foundation of our work, and the engine that keeps our experimental systems in the scientific forefront, is CXRO’s precision engineering team, led by Senajith (Seno) Rekawa. Our experimental, scientific success relies on our precision engineering group’s skill at delivering world leading instrumentation on very tight schedules. CXRO’s engineering team has earned a reputation for excellence and is frequently called upon by the ALS for precision tasks.

Although we are independent, CXRO and the ALS are tightly intertwined, and both organizations benefit from our close collaboration. I look forward to the bright future we will create together at the ALS, and at light sources of the future.

ALSNews Vol. 311

June 2010 Print

Bob Schoenlein, Deputy Director for Science

Bob Schoenlein

As the ALS Deputy Director for Science, I have the opportunity to work with a broad cross-section of the scientists and staff in our organization – in particular, all the beamline scientists and the Division Deputies that lead the Experimental Systems and Scientific Support Groups, as well as the ALS User’s Office. Of course, my primary focus is on the science programs at the ALS: helping to insure that the research done at the ALS is of the highest scientific impact; helping to identify and develop new science directions and new user groups; and helping to advance and refine the ALS Strategic Plan.

This activity takes many forms, and involves the work of many people – both within the ALS and from the two primary ALS scientific committees: the Proposal Study Panel (PSP) and the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). Peer review, evaluation, and recommendations are invaluable to insure the scientific vitality of the ALS. I work closely with the ALS User Office to organize the external peer review and PSP evaluation of the ~200 new proposals that are submitted for General User access to the ALS each six month cycle. I also arrange the external peer review of the more extensive Approved Program proposals (we typically receive several each cycle), which are subsequently evaluated by both the PSP and the SAC. The PSP and the SAC each meet twice per year, with the PSP focusing on General User and Approved Program proposals, and scoring consistency across the reviewer pool, while the SAC provides important strategic advice and recommendations on the broader ALS scientific programs. Complementing the General User access channels, I allocate Director’s Discretionary time to provide limited access to beamlines to initiate new research directions (providing the basis for future proposals) or for compelling experiments that warrant rapid access.

In addition to evaluating submitted scientific proposals, we have an on-going series of cross-cutting reviews at the ALS, typically two to three per year. These reviews bring in international experts to evaluate research activities across beamlines or across scientific areas, and to provide advice on new opportunities and areas for improvement. The most recent cross-cutting review covered Photon-in/Photon-out science, i.e., research areas based primarily on the spectroscopy of inelastically-scattered photons (RIXS, XES, fluorescence etc.). The next review will be in the area of Microscopy. In addition to these cross-cutting reviews, I organize regular reviews of the beamlines that are operated by Participating Research Teams (PRT). In January, we held a review of Structural Biology Programs at the ALS, covering the Protein Crystallography beamlines and the National Center for X-Ray Tomography. This will serve as the basis for renewal of their PRT agreements with the ALS. Regular internal reviews and peer evaluation of our scientific programs provide useful feedback for allocation of ALS resources, and for planning future research directions. Of course this is also invaluable for preparing for the triennial BES review that will be held in early 2011.

In my spare time, I try to maintain an active research program in ultrafast science. This program is part of the LBNL Materials Sciences Division (Ultrafast Materials Program) and the Chemical Sciences Division (Ultrafast X-Ray Science Laboratory). It involves laser-based research of dynamics in complex materials and molecular systems. This program also makes extensive use of ALS ultrafast beamlines 6.0.1 and 6.0.2. Additionally, I am contributing to the development of the scientific case for the Next Generation Light Source – most recently in the preparation of example science drivers (in response to questions posed by BES) and in the organization of a three day workshop focusing on condensed matter and materials physics applications for the Next Generation Light Source.

ALSNews Vol. 310

May 2010 Print

Howard Padmore, Division Deputy for Experimental Systems

Howard Padmore

The Experimental Systems Group supports a wide range of activities at the ALS including:

- The operation and development of hard and soft x-ray beamlines. The beamlines we support include ultrafast (6.0), SAXS/WAXS (7.3.3), x-ray tomography (8.3.2), diffractive imaging (9.0.1), micro XAS/XRD/XRF (10.3.2), small molecule chemical crystallography (11.3.1), high pressure (12.2.2), and micro-diffraction (12.3.2). The unifying theme of this suit of beamlines is materials science research, from understanding atomic structure to macroscopic 3D structure of natural and engineered materials. Much of this work is related to practical real world problems, from studies of carbon sequestration in porous rocks using x-ray tomography, to the structure of polymers for photovoltaic applications.

- Providing support for optical metrology and design, as well as optics research and development. This includes operation of a state of the art optical metrology laboratory, and a beamline for x-ray and detector R&D (5.3.1). It also includes the optical design of major projects, such as MAESTRO and COSMIC, and coordination with engineering groups.

- Advancing new ALS programs by working with the user community to develop new techniques and/or new areas of scientific application of synchrotron radiation methods. An past example of this is our work with the Falcone group to develop streak-camera-based ultrafast techniques, which has now become an established feature on BL 6.0. Current examples include the development of soft x-ray scattering as applied to polymer systems on BL 11.0.1, and the development of coherent x-ray diffraction as an imaging technique on 9.0.1.

- The development of technologies for the Next Generation Light Source (NGLS). In this area, the main activity presently is related to work on photocathodes. The NGLS specification calls for operation at a repetition rate 104 higher than the LCLS. This imposes severe issues for the photogun, and so is one of the foci of R&D work for the NGLS. This work involves development of new photocathode materials that can give low emittance and high average current, and will include the future design of optical systems for the NGLS.

In the future, the focus of our group’s work is really on improving the quality of the experiments that can be done at the ALS, rather than increasing capacity. For example, the flux in BL 11.3.1 (chemical crystallography) can be improved by a factor of 200 by moving to a superbend sector, and we are developing plans for this presently. Large gains can be also achieved moving by SAXS / WAXS (BL 7.3.3) to a superbend, equipping most x-ray beamlines with pixel detectors, and generally increasing automation.

Finally we are active in improving links to the Computational Research Division, so that we can bring modern and much more rapid data analysis techniques to bear on the data we collect. This is particularly important given the enormous increase in data rates we are starting to see from new generations of in-house and commercial detectors.

ALSNews Vol. 309

April 2010 Print

Zahid Hussain, Division Deputy for Scientific Support

Zahid Hussain

As the ALS Division Deputy for Scientific Support, I oversee the Scientific Support Group (SSG), with the help of deputies Eli Rotenberg and Michael Martin. The SSG's primary mission is to support the efforts of researchers at the ALS through scientific and technical collaboration and scientific outreach. Depending on the needs of ALS users, the degree of collaboration can range from technical assistance with a beamline to full partnership in developing new research programs and experiment endstations. The SSG also strives to expand ALS scientific programs and broaden its user base through presentations, demonstration experiments, and publications.

The group organizes a variety of seminars, including a weekly ALS Center for X-Ray Optics (CXRO) x-ray science and technology seminar series: a targeted weekly lecture series with talks given by leading researchers on various topics. The SSG also organizes ALS Colloquia, given each quarter by world-renowned scientists in synchrotron research and related fields.

The ALS Doctoral Fellowship in Residence program, established in 2001, enables students to acquire hands-on scientific training and develop professional maturity for independent research. More details are available on the ALS Web site. In 2007, we initiated an ALS Postdoctoral Fellowship Program that identifies outstanding individuals in new and emerging scientific fields and provides them with advanced training. Both programs lead the way in establishing a pipeline of future beamline scientists to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Basic Energy Sciences (BES) user facilities.

The SSG played a very active role in creating the "Advanced Light Source Strategic Plan: 2009–2016, Addressing the Scientific Grand Challenges and Our Energy Future" and the new "Photon Science for Renewable Energy" brochure.

The SSG has pioneered unique techniques that enable novel science, particularly using soft x rays. Some of these are listed below:

  • Development of ambient-pressure x-ray photoemission spectroscopy (APXPS) that enables XPS experiments at pressures of up to 10 torr, bridging a gap between ultrahigh vacuum and real-world industrial manufacturing conditions.
  • Development of time-of-flight (TOF)–based electron-energy analyzers that provide unique advantages over diffusive analyzers. Recently, spin-resolved TOF achieved a world-record energy resolution of better than 20 meV.
  • Development of an eight-pole electromagnet that allows unique experiments in x-ray magnetic linear dichroism, leading to reinterpretation of all prior results with this technique.
  • Development of a new generation of both high-resolution and high-throughput (spectroscopes/spectrographs?) for photon-in/photon-out spectroscopy. Both of these perform orders of magnitude higher than previous generations.
  • Achieved a spatial resolution of near 10 nm from a scanning transmission x-ray microscope.

The SSG has recently developed a new, higher-flux infrared beamline (Beamline 5.4), the meV-resolution beamline (MERLIN), and has begun construction of the MAESTRO beamline that will allow nano-ARPES studies.

I am very proud of the work done by the members of the SSG. They play a pivotal role in keeping ALS science at the forefront of its fields and making the ALS an outstanding user facility.

ALSNews Vol. 308

March 2010 Print

David Robin, Division Deputy for Accelerator Operations and Development

David Robin

As the ALS Division Deputy for Accelerator Operations and Development, I oversee the Accelerator Physics Group, the Accelerator Operations Group, the Floor Operations Section, and the ALS Procedure Center. These groups all play very important roles in ensuring that the ALS stays at the forefront of synchrotron radiation sources while operating safely and reliably.

The Accelerator Physics Group, led by Christoph Steier and myself, is continually working to improve operations and expand the capabilities of the accelerator. In this endeavor, the group works closely with users, beamline scientists, and the engineering groups to provide high performance, reliable operations, smooth implementation of accelerator upgrades, and to develop future upgrades.

There has been a rich history of developments of the ALS accelerator. This includes the implementation of new and sometimes very novel insertion devices, the superbend magnets, and more recently, the transition to top-off injection. The ALS is the world’s brightest source of soft x-ray (<1nm) radiation, which is remarkable considering that at 17 years of age, it is the second oldest third generation light source. The developments are far from over and in particular the next four years will be a period of intense development. There will be brightness, RF system, controls and instrumentation upgrades (see this month’s feature). In addition, the APEX photo-injector, a prototype for a high-repetition rate free electron laser, will be tested at the ALS beam test facility. It is a very exciting time.

The Accelerator Operations Group, led by Rick Bloemhard, provides safe and reliable operation of the accelerators 24-hours a day. They are the first line of defense when operations issues arise. Additionally, operators provide after hours emergency response and user assistance. Finally, operational reliability data is compiled and analyzed by David Richardson (one of two owl-shift operators), which can be seen in the Building 80 corridor at the entrance to Building 6.

The Floor Operations Section, an integral part of the Accelerator Operations Group, is led by John Pruyn and is charged with maintaining configuration control of beamline radiation shielding. This section acts as the first line of defense in ensuring that any shielding work (no matter how small) is initiated and completed safely and properly. These highly trained experts play a critical role in ensuring the safe and efficient operation of such a complex ensemble of beamlines.

Finally the Procedure Center, led by Karen Nunez, develops, maintains, and updates ALS procedures. The ALS relies on more than 350 procedures (operations, user, electrical, mechanical, interlock, etc.) for accomplishing work safely and efficiently. Procedures need to be current and carefully written and reviewed, and the relevant staff needs to be properly trained. It is a big job.

I am very proud of the work done by the members of the Accelerator Operations and Development Groups. They continue to play a major role in keeping the ALS at the forefront of synchrotron light sources. We warmly welcome input and feedback from users and staff.

Contact us:

David Robin, 510-486-6028, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Christoph Steier, 510-495-2992 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Rick Bloemhard, 510-486-4738 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Control Room, 510-486-4969 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Floor Operations, 510-486-7464 (RING)
Procedure Center, 510- 486-6535, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

ALSNews Vol. 307

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