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Ring Leaders
January 2011 Print

Roger Falcone, ALS Director

Welcome Back!

I want to express my best wishes for all members of the ALS community and their families for a happy and productive new year. It will certainly be a challenging and busy time in Building 6 as we move forward with many new projects, including

  • the construction of  new beamlines (e.g., MAESTRO in sector 7);
  • improvements to the accelerator (a major controls system upgrade and the sextupole magnet project);
  • exciting new proposals to the funding agencies (e.g., energy research in Sector 8);
  • infrastructure improvements (new roof and HVAC controls);
  • a streamlined user processing system for proposals and other data.

The list of ALS renewal projects will only continue to grow in the coming years.

While we have received funding for most of these projects, we are also looking at a particularly uncertain budget climate in Washington. We have prepared contingencies, but I've learned to expect surprises. Our response to the ups and downs in funding has been not only to consider and plan for many scenarios, but also to proactively partner with others for support of our activities, including other Lab divisions, departments on the Berkeley campus, other national laboratories, and even private foundations. This allows us to broaden our resource base, and has the additional benefit of broadening our scientific vision.

As I write this note, we have just closed out a hugely successful workshop hosted by LBNL, "Biology with FELs: Toward the Molecular Movie." Long-time ALS user John Spence, from Arizona State University, put together a remarkable group of 150 scientists, including international leaders in biology and x-ray free electron laser (FEL) science and technology. The talks and discussions focused on what x-ray FELs are bringing, and could bring, to the field of imaging and to biology broadly. We heard about the recent success of nanocrystallography and single object imaging at the newly operating x-ray FEL source, LCLS, at SLAC. We also heard about light source properties and the related technologies needed for a next generation x-ray laser. Importantly, the results of this workshop will inform design considerations regarding a potential next generation light source x-ray FEL, under consideration at Berkeley Lab, as we expand our own capabilities and facilities for photon science.

I want to thank our users for communicating all of their excellent publications in preparation for our major review by the DOE in March. This triennial review focuses on our scientific productivity, and I'm very pleased by the response of our users and staff in helping to make sure we can tell the full story in this critical metric. Of course, our productivity was enabled by a great year for operations at the ALS (greater than 95% reliability of the beam), as well as an excellent safety culture and the traditionally helpful attitude of everyone on our skilled ALS staff. I especially want to thank those who selflessly helped out during the Lab's Open House, when we showed off the ALS to over 1200 visitors!

Finally, I consider the opening of our wonderful User Support Building to be a harbinger of the health and vitality of the ALS. Every time I walk through Building 15, or go to a seminar, or visit someone in the labs, offices, or cubicles there, I feel grateful for both the confidence of the DOE and the investment that the nation has made. Mostly, I am very proud of the people at the ALS, since it is in our staff and broader community for which the DOE has shown its support, and for whom its investment for the future is being made.

November 2010 Print

Paul Adams, Head of the Berkeley Center for Structural Biology

As a Deputy Division Director in the Physical Biosciences Division I lead the Berkeley Center for Structural Biology (BCSB), which provides five macromolecular crystallography (MX) beamlines for a very broad user community. Two of the beamlines (8.2.1 and 8.2.2) are funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). The other three beamlines (5.0.1, 5.0.2 and 5.0.3) are funded by a number of industrial and academic users, with a significant contribution from the National Institutes of Health. The sector 8.2 beamlines use one of the 5T superbend sources that provide x-rays in the 5-16keV range. The tunability of the x-rays is essential for many of the experiments performed by macromolecular crystallographers, and is one of the reasons that synchrotron sources have become so popular in this field.

The three sector 5.0 beamlines share a common 1.96T, 56 pole, 11.5cm period, permanent magnet wiggler source from which 5.0.2 accepts the central 1.5mrad of the emission fan and 5.0.1 and 5.0.3 each accept a 2.7mrad wide sidefan. The central beamline, 5.0.2, is a fully-tunable beamline with an energy range of 4-16keV. The two sidestations are monochromatic but have an x-ray energy that has been chosen to exploit the anomalous scattering of X-rays by many biologically important elements (in particular selenium).

Researchers use the BCSB beamlines to obtain very high-resolution images of biomolecules, such as enzymes, viruses, and DNA. The majority of the structures are important for improving human health, by designing better therapeutics or understanding how diseases occur. The crystallographic technique relies on growing very uniform crystals of purified biomolecules and then using diffraction methods to obtain the distribution of electrons in the crystal. This enables an atomic model to be constructed and interpreted.

Outside of the BCSB, I lead a research group that develops software for automated macromolecular crystallography: a program called Phenix used by researchers around the world to analyze the diffraction data collected at MX beamlines. I also have research projects, looking at protein folding and developing new biofuels, which use the BCSB beamlines to solve structures.

The BCSB consists of several beamline scientists (Simon Morton, Corie Ralston, and Peter Zwart), a software development group (led by John Taylor), and a number of technical and administrative staff. They maintain the beamlines so that they can be used by researchers from around the world, and they develop the beamlines’ capabilities.

In the last five years we have performed major upgrades of the sector 5.0 beamlines to increase x-ray flux by 10- to 30-fold. On sector 8.2 we have started an upgrade of beamline optics that will eventually result in a 10-fold increase in beam brightness, taking advantage of the ALS top-off and sextapole magnet upgrades.

All of the BCSB beamlines now have robotic hardware for the handling of crystals. This has made it possible to provide remote access to the beamlines so that many of the users now collect data from their home institutions instead of travelling to Berkeley. We also provide a Collaborative Crystallography Program, led by Banu Sankaran, where users send crystals for data collection and structure solution (see the ALSNews feature Solving Structures with Collaborative Crystallography to learn more about this program).

We are now looking at how to further develop the BCSB beamlines, focusing on the possible introduction of a super-cooled insertion device on sector 5.0 to provide a very high-brightness, low-divergence beam.

We are fortunate at the ALS to have a community of structural biology beamlines. There are three other macromolecular crystallography beamlines: 4.2.2, 8.3.1, and 12.3.1. The latter beamline is unique in providing both crystallography and small angle X-ray scattering techniques. There are also unique resources at the ALS for tomographic imaging of biological systems: the National Center for X-Ray Tomography, and the use of infrared spectroscopy at the Berkeley Synchrotron Infrared Structural Biology Program. Collectively, these structural biology resources are essential to research in the Physical Biosciences, Life Sciences, and Earth Sciences Divisions. In the near future I will be establishing a Biosciences Council to foster interactions between these groups and with the ALS.

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

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