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  • richardmitnick 12:46 pm on October 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ALS-U, , , LBL ALS,   

    From LBNL: “Transformational X-ray Project Takes a Step Forward” 

    Berkeley Logo

    Berkeley Lab

    October 3, 2016
    Glenn Roberts Jr.

    A time-lapse view of the Advanced Light Source building at night. (Credit: Haris Mahic/Berkeley Lab)

    The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has confirmed the need for a unique source of X-ray light that would produce beams up to 1,000 times brighter than are now possible at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s (Berkeley Lab) Advanced Light Source (ALS), enabling new explorations of chemical reactions, battery performance, biological processes and exotic materials.


    The proposed Advanced Light Source Upgrade project, also known as ALS-U, has cleared the first step in the DOE approval process. On Sept. 27 it received “critical decision zero,” also known as CD-0, which approves the scientific need for the project. This initial step sets in motion a process of additional planning and reviews, and the laboratory will begin the upgrade’s conceptual design.

    This rendering shows the existing equipment at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (lower right) that forms the storage ring where accelerated electrons give off energy in the form of light. A planned upgrade, ALS-U (left and upper right), would replace this storage ring with a denser array of magnets, known as an MBA lattice, that would produce far brighter, steadier beams of so-called “soft” X-ray light. A unique secondary ring along the ALS’s inner wall, called an “accumulator” ring, would rapidly replenish the energy in the main ring. (Credit: Berkeley Lab)

    If ultimately advanced, the ALS-U would feature a new, circular array of powerful, compact magnets. This state-of-the-art array, known as a “multibend achromat (MBA) lattice,” and other improvements would allow the ALS to achieve far brighter, steadier beams of so-called “soft” or low-energy X-ray light to probe matter with unprecedented detail.

    MBA systems have been demonstrated successfully at a light source in Sweden known as MAX IV, and will be put to use in a planned upgrade to Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Photon Source [AS]facility in Illinois that specializes in a range of energies known as “hard” X-ray light that is complementary to the separate range of X-ray energies produced at the ALS.

    MAX IV Lund, Sweden
    MAX IV Lund, Sweden

    ANL APS interior

    “This upgrade project is a very high priority for the laboratory and builds upon the lab’s long legacy of building and operating particle accelerators,” said Berkeley Lab Director Michael Witherell. “The ALS-U project will benefit from our expertise in many disciplines here, from engineering to accelerator and beam physics, and computer modeling and simulation.”

    Dave Robin, who is leading the ALS-U effort, said, “We’re excited by this development. ALS-U is designed to be the world’s brightest soft X-ray synchrotron light source. It will enable a generational leap, surpassing any soft X-ray storage-ring-based light source operating, under construction, or planned.”

    The electron beam profile of Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source today (left), compared to the brighter, highly focused beam (right) that is possible with an upgrade known as ALS-U. (Credit: Berkeley Lab).

    The present-day ALS is already a premier destination for thousands of scientists from around the nation and world each year to conduct soft X-ray experiments. Soft X-rays are particularly suited to studies of chemical, electronic, and magnetic properties of materials. The upgrade would deliver light to experiments in nearly continuous waves that are more uniform, or highly “coherent” and laser-like, which would allow scientists to resolve nanoscale properties in a range of samples and to observe real-time chemical processes and material functions.

    “ALS now is the world leader in science that utilizes soft X-rays. ALS-U will allow us to continue to lead the world in measuring and understanding new materials and chemical systems for the 21st century,” said Roger Falcone, ALS director. “With this brighter source, we can move from where we take high-resolution static images to making movies. We can look at things in finer detail and see how they are functioning in real time.”

    The MERLIN X-ray beamline at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source, pictured here, specializes in studies of electronic structure in materials with exotic electronic and magnetic properties. (Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt/Berkeley Lab)

    In particular, the brighter, more coherent beams, which would approach the fundamental limits in performance for soft X-rays, will be useful for exploring materials at the nanoscale to map out their physical, chemical, and electronic structure as they evolve. Modern materials are complex and inherently varied, so their functionality can only be understood by measuring this non-uniformity in their properties.

    Scientists could use these beams to produce 3-D maps of battery and fuel cell chemistry at work, for example, which could ultimately provide clues to improving their performance.

    The brighter, more coherent, beams could also be used to explore exotic materials phenomena like superconductivity, in which materials can carry electrical current with nearly zero loss; and to study unusual quantum properties that are poorly understood and defy explanation by classical physics.

    The ALS is a synchrotron light source that can produce a wide spectrum of light, from infrared and ultraviolet light to X-rays. Synchrotrons accelerate electrons to nearly the speed of light, then direct them into curving paths that cause the electrons to give off some energy in the form of photons—fundamental particles of light. The electron storage ring at ALS is approximately 200 meters in circumference.

    ALS-U would utilize and preserve the existing ALS building, an iconic domed structure designed in the 1930s by Arthur Brown Jr., the architect who also designed Coit Tower, a San Francisco landmark.

    The upgrade would incorporate most of the 40 beamlines and supporting equipment that now allow simultaneous experiments across a wide range of scientific disciplines. Also, three new beamlines are planned that will be optimized for the new capabilities of ALS-U.

    A panoramic view of the interior of the Advanced Light Source. (Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt/Berkeley Lab)

    About 200 scientific and engineering staff work at the ALS, which draws thousands of scientist “users” per year from around the world. In fiscal year 2015, the ALS hosted more than 2,500 of these visiting scientists from 43 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., and 33 other nations. In collaboration with ALS staff experts, these scientists produce more than 900 peer-reviewed articles per year featuring work performed at the ALS.

    “For over 20 years the ALS has grown in its number of users and the breadth of publications,” Falcone said. “This upgrade will ensure that in the next 20 years we will continue on that growth path, serving even more scientists and doing more science at emerging frontiers.”

    The ALS dome was originally built in the 1940s to house an early particle accelerator known as the 184-inch cyclotron, a brainchild of Berkeley Lab founder Ernest O. Lawrence. Construction to convert the facility into the ALS began in 1988 and was completed in 1993. The ALS has undergone several improvements since startup—the latest was a four-year brightness improvement project, completed in 2013 and which recently received the Energy Secretary’s Achievement Award, that as much as tripled the brightness of X-ray light at some of its beamlines.

    ALS-U represents the largest new project at the lab since the ALS was completed, and takes advantage of a more than half-billion-dollar investment in the existing ALS, said Robin. ALS-U could conceivably be up and running within a decade, he added. The next stage of DOE project review and approval, known as CD-1, would confirm site selection for the proposed transformational soft-X-ray synchrotron project.

    The Advanced Light Source is a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

    For more information about the ALS-U project, visit: http://als.lbl.gov/als-u/overview.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 7:40 am on May 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , LBL ALS   

    From LBL ALS and the Moore Foundation: “Beyond the Lab: Alessandra Lanzara” 

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    Berkeley Lab

    LBL Advanced Light Source
    LBL Advanced Light Source

    Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    Alessandra Lanzara

    May 19, 2016
    Aditi Risbud

    Alessandra Lanzara, Ph.D., is a grantee in the foundation’s Emergent Phenomena in Quantum Systems initiative and directs the Lanzara Research Group at the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

    Her group studies how electrons and atoms interact with intense, ultra-short optical pulses of light–a cutting-edge technique called angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, or ARPES. This experimental tool gives scientists a glimpse into the secret lives of electrons and atoms, and could one day allow us to alter their properties using just a flash of light.

    In this installment of Beyond the Lab, Alessandra discusses her work unraveling the behavior of quantum materials, and the connections between experimental physics and archaeology.

    What inspired you to become a scientist?

    It all started during a school field trip to an amusement park. My teacher organized this trip as a fun way to learn about fundamental physics in our everyday life. While initially I was excited about being able to spend an entire school day at the amusement park, by the end of the day I was actually more enthusiastic about the physics underlying the roller coasters! This was a defining moment, when I realized that I wanted to become a physicist.

    Looking back, however, I believe that the seed was already planted, and my parents have inspired me throughout all my childhood. I recall endless hours spent with my dad inventing a “new motor” or designing a “new car”. Enthusiasm for discovery and invention, thinking without creating any artificial barriers–these are probably the most beautiful presents that my parents have given me.

    What areas in science are you most interested in solving?

    I am fascinated by the rich and mysterious properties of quantum materials, materials where quantum mechanics plays a key role in determining their unconventional behavior.

    My interest spans from understanding their equilibrium properties, by uncovering how electrons move and how they interact within each other and with other excitations; to using ultrashort and intense pulses of light to manipulate quantum materials behavior and to induce new regimes that do not exist in equilibrium.

    Just like understanding of semiconductors led to the silicon revolution, understanding quantum materials will mark new revolutions in technology leading to a new era of computing.

    How do your colleagues help you achieve your goals?

    I have been incredibly lucky to be surrounded by amazing people that are a constant inspiration for me: from my Ph.D. advisor, an unconventional thinker driven by a passion for science, to my colleagues here at Berkeley who continuously push me to always try something more, to design the next harder experiment, and to challenge even what we think is known.

    Working with dedicated, bright students and post-docs, and sharing–and confronting– ideas, is an inspiring and beautiful process that leads to new unexplored paths and eventually, new discoveries.

    What are your greatest challenges as a researcher?

    As an experimental scientist, I often feel that my biggest limitation is the lack of sophisticated experimental tools that can further deepen and eventually uncover the mysterious force that drives new properties in materials. Often times, an experiment shows us the tip of an iceberg, but the lack of more sophisticated tools limits our complete mapping of the iceberg.

    I like to compare science to archaeology, one of my passions. When archaeologists were digging in search of the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs, they discovered several small and unique pieces that were just the tip of what turned to be an amazing and sophisticated civilization. Only more advanced tools and investments have allowed us to finally uncover a treasure that was hidden under our eyes for thousands of years, revealing one of the most rich and fascinating civilizations of the past.

    What gets you going every day, and how do you stay motivated?

    The mystery of the unknown and the passion for discovering natural truths. The unique feeling that follows from the discovery of something, even if it is just a tiny, tiny piece of a huge and still unsolved puzzle, keeps me motivated and enthusiastic about science.

    Watch Alessandra and her colleagues at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory discuss the potential of angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy here.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 10:21 am on March 15, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , LBL ALS,   

    From SLAC: “X-ray Studies at SLAC and Berkeley Lab Aid Search for Ebola Cure” 

    SLAC Lab

    March 14, 2016
    No writer credit

    Research Reveals Structures That Could Be Key to Preventing Infection

    TPC1 channel that Ebola and related filoviruses use to infect cells.

    In experiments carried out partly at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists have determined in atomic detail how a potential drug molecule fits into and blocks a channel in cell membranes that Ebola and related filoviruses need to infect victims’ cells.

    The study by researchers at University of California, San Francisco marks an important step toward finding a cure for Ebola and other diseases that depend on the channel. The results were published March 9 in Nature.

    “There are no effective treatments for filovirus infections in humans,” said UCSF postdoctoral researcher Alex Kintzer, who performed the study with Professor Robert Stroud. “With these new structures, pharmaceutical chemists can now design new candidate drug molecules that would be more efficient and effective in blocking the channel and defeating these viruses.”

    To determine the structures, Kintzer first made crystals containing many copies of the target channel protein, called TPC1, bound to the potential drug molecule, Ned-19.

    The researchers then exposed the crystals to intense X-rays at two DOE Office of Science User Facilities – SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) and the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

    SSRL at SLAC

    LBL ALS interior
    ALS at LBL

    Analyzing the patterns and intensities of the X-rays that diffract from the crystals enables researchers to determine their atomic structures.

    Isolating TPC1 from its complex membrane structure is a difficult process that often results in loosely packed crystals that produce faint diffraction patterns, and finding crystals that diffracted well enough to determine the atomic structure of TPC1 required extensive analysis. SSRL’s Beam Line 12-2 was crucial to the successful analysis of these crystals, because its bright X-rays are particularly well-suited for biomedical diffraction studies, and its pixel-array detector is 1,000 times faster than conventional detectors in logging data.

    “These features of Beam Line 12-2 were especially important in enabling Alex to rapidly analyze the diffraction of his challenging crystals,” said Ana Gonzalez, SSRL’s Macromolecular Crystallography User Support Group leader, who helped Kintzer take full advantage of the beamline’s capabilities.

    Even so, the project involved testing about 6,900 crystals during more than 36 sessions at SSRL and ALS. It took nearly four years to complete, from planning to publication.

    One interesting aspect of this study is that the specific TPC1 sample the researchers used did not come from a human or lab animal. Rather, it was from the cells of a weedy Eurasian annual plant related to broccoli (called mouse-ear cress, or Arabidopsis thaliana) that researchers have used as a model species for studying cell activities and genetics since the mid-1940s. (In 2000, for example, A. thaliana’s genome was the very first plant genome to be sequenced.)

    “It’s common in this field to use well-studied non-human components that have similar genetic sequences, structures and functional properties,” Kintzer said.

    Future research plans include determining the structure of human TPC1 and investigating other molecules that may treat or cure other diseases that exploit that channel’s function.

    “For example, TPC1 function also plays important roles in the progression of diabetes, obesity, fatty liver disease, heart disease and such neurodegenerative disorders as Parkinson’s disease,” Kintzer said. “We hope our work will eventually lead to more effective medicines for treating these diseases as well.”

    The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Sandler Foundation. Funding for the SSRL Structural Molecular Biology Program is provided by the DOE Office of Science and the NIH National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). The Berkeley Center for Structural Biology is supported by NIGMS and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

    Citation: A. Kintzer and R. Stroud, Nature, 9 March 2016 (10.1038/nature17194).

    See the full article here .

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    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.

  • richardmitnick 6:19 pm on May 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , LBL ALS   

    From LBL: “Researchers from Berkeley Lab & University of Hawaii at Manoa map the first chemical bonds that eventually give rise to DNA.” 

    Berkeley Logo

    Berkeley Lab

    U Hawaii
    U Hawaii

    Composite image of an energetic star explosion taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in March of 1997. Credit: NASA

    May 5, 2015
    Kate Greene 510-486-4404

    DNA is synonymous with life, but where did it originate? One way to answer this question is to try to recreate the conditions that formed DNA’s molecular precursors. These precursors are carbon ring structures with embedded nitrogen atoms, key components of nucleobases, which themselves are building blocks of the double helix.

    Now, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab) and the University of Hawaii at Manoa have shown for the first time that cosmic hot spots, such as those near stars, could be excellent environments for the creation of these nitrogen-containing molecular rings.

    In a new paper in the Astrophysical Journal, the team describes the experiment in which they recreate conditions around carbon-rich, dying stars to find formation pathways of the important molecules.

    “This is the first time anyone’s looked at a hot reaction like this,” says Musahid Ahmed, scientist in the Chemical Sciences Division at Berkeley Lab. It’s not easy for carbon atoms to form rings that contain nitrogen, he says. But this new work demonstrates the possibility of a hot gas phase reaction, what Ahmed calls the “cosmic barbeque.”

    For decades, astronomers have pointed their telescopes into space to look for signatures of these nitrogen-containing double carbon rings called quinoline, Ahmed explains. They’ve focused mostly on the space between stars called the interstellar medium. While the stellar environment has been deemed a likely candidate for the formation of carbon ring structures, no one had spent much time looking there for nitrogen-containing carbon rings.

    To recreate the conditions near a star, Ahmed and his long-time collaborator, Ralf Kaiser, professor of chemistry at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and their colleagues, which include Dorian Parker at Hawaii, and Oleg Kostko and Tyler Troy of Berkeley Lab, turned to the Advanced Light Source (ALS), a Department of Energy user facility located at Berkeley Lab.

    LBL Advanced Light Source

    At the ALS, the researchers used a device called a hot nozzle, previously used to successfully confirm soot formation during combustion. In the present study the hot nozzle is used to simulate the pressures and temperatures in stellar environments of carbon-rich stars. Into the hot nozzle, the researchers injected a gas made of a nitrogen-containing single ringed carbon molecule and two short carbon-hydrogen molecules called acetylene.

    Then, using synchrotron radiation from the ALS, the team probed the hot gas to see which molecules formed. They found that the 700-Kelvin nozzle transformed the initial gas into one made of the nitrogen-containing ring molecules called quinolone and isoquinoline, considered the next step up in terms of complexity.

    “There’s an energy barrier for this reaction to take place, and you can exceed that barrier near a star or in our experimental setup,” Ahmed says. “This suggests that we can start looking for these molecules around stars now.”

    These experiments provide compelling evidence that the key molecules of quinolone and isoquinoline can be synthesized in these hot environments and then be ejected with the stellar wind to the interstellar medium – the space between stars, says Kaiser.

    “Once ejected in space, in cold molecular clouds, these molecules can then condense on cold interstellar nanoparticles, where they can be processed and functionalized.” Kaiser adds. “These processes might lead to more complex, biorelevant molecules such as nucleobases of crucial importance to DNA and RNA formation.”

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 12:27 pm on March 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , LBL ALS   

    From LBL: “A New Level of Earthquake Understanding” 

    Berkeley Logo

    Berkeley Lab

    March 3, 2015
    Lynn Yarris

    The notorious San Andreas Fault runs virtually the entire length of California

    As everyone who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area knows, the Earth moves under our feet. But what about the stresses that cause earthquakes? How much is known about them? Until now, our understanding of these stresses has been based on macroscopic approximations. Now, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is reporting the successful study of stress fields along the San Andreas fault at the microscopic scale, the scale at which earthquake-triggering stresses originate.

    Working with a powerful microfocused X-ray beam at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility, researchers applied Laue X-ray microdiffraction, a technique commonly used to map stresses in electronic chips and other microscopic materials, to study a rock sample extracted from the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD). The results could one day lead to a better understanding of earthquake events.

    “Stresses released during an earthquake are related to the strength of rocks and thus in turn to the rupture mechanism,” says Martin Kunz, a beamline scientist with the ALS’s Experimental Systems Group. “We found that the distribution of stresses in our sample were very heterogeneous at the micron scale and much higher than what has been reported with macroscopic approximations. This suggests there are different processes at work at the microscopic and macroscopic scales.”

    Kunz is one of the co-authors of a paper describing this research in the journal Geology. The paper is titled Residual stress preserved in quartz from the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth. Co-authors are Kai Chen, Nobumichi Tamura and Hans-Rudolf Wenk.

    (From left) Hans Wenk, Nobumichi Tamura and Martin Kunz at ALS beamline 12.3.2 where they applied Laue X-ray microdiffraction to study quartz from the San Andreas Fault. (Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt)

    Most earthquakes occur when stress that builds up in rocks along active faults, such as the San Andreas, is suddenly released, sending out seismic waves that make the ground shake. The pent- up stress results from the friction caused by tectonic forces that push two plates of rock against one another.

    “In an effort to better understand earthquake mechanisms, several deep drilling projects have been undertaken to retrieve material from seismically active zones of major faults such as SAFOD,” says co-author Wenk, a geology professor with the University of California (UC) Berkeley’s Department of Earth and Planetary Science and the leading scientist of this study. “These drill-core samples can be studied in the laboratory for direct information about physical and chemical processes that occur at depth within a seismically active zone. The data can then be compared with information about seismicity to advance our understanding of the mechanisms of brittle failure in the Earth’s crust from microscopic to macroscopic scales.”

    Kunz, Wenk and their colleagues measured remnant or “fossilized” stress fields in fractured quartz crystals from a sample taken out of a borehole in the San Andreas Fault near Parkfield, California at a depth of 2.7 kilometers. The measurements were made using X-ray Laue microdiffraction, a technique that can determine elastic deformation with a high degree of accuracy. Since minerals get deformed by the tectonic forces that act on them during earthquakes, measuring elastic deformation reveals how much stress acted on the minerals during the quake.

    “Laue microdiffraction has been around for quite some time and has been exploited by the materials science community to quantify elastic and plastic deformation in metals and ceramics, but has been so far only scarcely applied to geological samples”, says co-author Tamura, a staff scientist with the ALS’s Experimental Systems Group who spearheads the Laue diffraction program at the ALS.

    Using ALS beamline 12.3.2, researchers carried out an X-ray microdiffraction study on quartz grains from the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth and found a heterogeneous distribution of stress.

    The measurements were obtained at ALS beamline 12.3.2, a hard (high-energy) X-ray diffraction beamline specialized for Laue X-ray microdiffraction.

    “ALS Beamline 12.3.2 is one of just a few synchrotron-based X-ray beamlines in the world that can be used to measure residual stresses using Laue micro diffraction,” Tamura says.

    In their analysis, the Berkeley researchers found that while some of the areas within individual quartz fragments showed no elastic deformation, others were subjected to stresses in excess of 200 million pascals (about 30,000 psi). This is much higher than the tens of millions of pascals of stress reported in previous indirect strength measurements of SAFOD rocks.

    “Although there are a variety of possible origins of the measured stresses, we think these measured stresses are records of seismic events shocking the rock”, says co-author Chen of China’s Xi’an Jiantong University. It is the only mechanism consistent with the geological setting and microscopic observations of the rock.”

    The authors believe their Laue X-ray microdiffraction technique has great potential for measuring the magnitude and orientation of residual stresses in rocks, and that with this technique quartz can serve as “paleo-piezometer” for a variety of geological settings and different rock types.

    “Understanding the stress fields under which different types of rock fail will help us better understand what triggers earthquakes,” says Kunz. “Our study could mark the beginning of a whole new era of quantifying the forces that shape the Earth.”

    This research was supported by the DOE Office of Science.

    See the full article here.

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