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  • richardmitnick 1:47 pm on August 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 2 years of operation and gains, , , , , Synchrotron science,   

    From BNL: “National Synchrotron Light Source II Celebrates Two Years of User Operations” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    August 28, 2017
    Stephanie Kossman

    BNL NSLS II

    In July of 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory wished a happy second birthday to the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II). Located at Brookhaven, NSLS-II is a DOE Office of Science User Facility that provides ultra-bright x-rays for cutting-edge science research.

    During its second year of user operations, NSLS-II reached significant milestones and added several beamlines that offer researchers exciting new capabilities across all fields of science. On July 17, the facility recorded 168 hours (seven days) of continuous beam, showcasing its stability and reliability. And on July 20, NSLS-II delivered user beam at 325 milliamps (mA) for the first time, creating the brightest light the facility has seen so far. Because NSLS-II is in its early years of operations, its level of brightness is still increasing; the goal is to reach 350 mA by the end of September.

    Reaching another milestone, NSLS-II named Joanna Krueger its 1000th lifetime user on June 28. A chemistry professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Krueger uses NSLS-II to study “sleeping beauty” transposase, an inactive enzyme found in fish that becomes active when inserted into human cells.

    “I am impressed by all the improvements: automation for data collection and fast data reduction,” Krueger said. “I have never seen my data reduced so fast—and I have been doing this work since the mid-nineties. I am very pleased with the facility and the assistance from the beamline staff. It is amazing.”

    BNL NSLS-II

    The great number and diversity of researchers using NSLS-II is a huge success, especially considering the still-growing facility is operating at less than half its capacity. There are currently 20 beamlines (experimental stations) in operation but, when completed, NSLS-II will have 60 beamlines. In other words, at least 60 different experiments could occur at the same time.

    Eight new beamlines were added to NSLS-II during its second year, expanding the facility’s reach into new fields of research and allowing scientists to conduct experiments using new techniques.

    3
    Joanna Krueger was named the 1000th user at NSLS-II on June 28. Krueger uses NSLS-II to study “sleeping beauty” transposase, an inactive enzyme found in fish that becomes active when inserted into human cells.

    The latest beamline to transition into operations was beamline 2-ID, which enables scientists to measure a sample’s response across a range of angles—nearly a full circle around the sample—using high-intensity soft x-rays. This technique is used to determine dynamics of electrons in a wide variety of materials.

    “This beamline will offer world-leading capabilities in terms of soft inelastic x-ray scattering,” said Qun Shen, Deputy Director for Science at NSLS-II. “It is going to be a really cutting-edge technique for studying dynamics and catalysis.”

    Beamline 2-ID is particularly notable for its ability to study light that bounces off individual atoms, but achieving world-class capabilities is the goal for every beamline at NSLS-II.

    Such is the case for 8-BM, a new beamline that uses tender x-rays to image and probe elements that are common in biological structures. 8-BM offers tender energy x-rays—x-rays with an energy from one kiloelectron volt (keV) to four keV—and, amongst other capabilities, allows scientists to study environmental questions – for example, how nuclear materials decay and affect the environment.

    “From five or six keV and up is relatively straightforward to achieve,” Shen said. “But very few beamlines around the world can put emphasis on the tender x-ray energy.”

    Another new beamline, 4-ID, started general user operations in July. This beamline combines the versatile control of beam size, energy, and polarization to enable real-time studies of materials growth and processing, measurements of the atomic structure of functional surfaces and interfaces, and characterization of the electronic order in quantum materials.

    Brookhaven is also partnering with outside institutions to fund the construction and operations of new beamlines at NSLS-II. For example, beamline 17-BM was established through a partnership with the Case Center for Synchrotron Biosciences at Case Western Reserve University. This beamline uses wide-beam x-rays to modify proteins and monitor their structural changes, a “footprinting” technique that was previously unavailable at NSLS-II.

    4
    Scientists Paul Northrup and Syed Khalid are pictured with beamline 8-BM, the new tender energy x-ray beamline at NSLS-II.

    One of NSLS-II’s biggest partners is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a government organization that promotes innovation and enhances industrial competitiveness in the U.S. NIST is funding the construction and operations of three beamlines at NSLS-II: two spectroscopy beamlines currently under construction, and beamline 6-BM, which had first light on July 25. At 6-BM, researchers can use x-ray absorption spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction to study how atoms stack together to make materials like batteries and computer chips.

    Other facilities within Brookhaven Lab are also working with NSLS-II on new beamlines, such as beamline 11-BM. This beamline was established through a partnership with Brookhaven’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials.

    “This is where scientists can do x-ray scattering in real time to see how thin films of nanostructures self-organize into something that may be very useful,” Shen said. “Before this beamline came on board, we didn’t have such a dedicated capability.”

    The beamlines at NSLS-II are continuously undergoing changes to improve and expand their functionality. At beamline 3-ID, for example, scientists developed a new imaging method that allows researchers to view an x-ray-transparent sample in real time with quantitative phase measurement.

    In addition to opening new beamlines and making new research techniques available to scientists, NSLS-II’s second year of operations was notable for important scientific breakthroughs. Researchers used beamline 8-ID to develop new cathode materials that could facilitate the mass production of sodium batteries. Another team of researchers used beamline 23-ID-1 to advance the study of high-temperature superconductivity, a phenomena that has baffled scientists for decades. The team discovered that static ordering of electrical charges may cooperate, rather than compete, with superconductivity.

    There is a bright future ahead for NSLS-II. 8 beamlines are currently under construction, and the NSLS-II team is working with the scientific community to develop the next set of beamlines to build. Other future plans for NSLS-II include streamlining logistics for users and making beam time available on multiple beamlines with a single proposal.

    “The last two years have been exciting as we have watched the NSLS-II user community grow and the numbers increase,” said Gretchen Cisco, User Administration Manager at NSLS-II. “We are continuously identifying ways to improve the NSLS-II user experience. Based on user feedback, we are updating the proposal allocation and scheduling system to make it easier to apply for beam time.”

    From its world-class beamlines to the accessibility for its users, NSLS-II has already distinguished itself as a pillar of synchrotron science.

    See the full article here .

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    BNL Campus

    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 7:26 am on October 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From TUM: “New state-of-the-art compact X-ray source” 

    Techniche Universitat Munchen

    Techniche Universitat Munchen

    29.10.2015
    Dr. Klaus Achterhold
    Technical University of Munich (TUM)
    Department of Physics (E17)
    Tel.: +49 (0)89 289 – 12559
    klaus.achterhold@ph.tum.de

    1
    The new mini synchrotron “Munich Compact Light Source” is located in Garching at TUM Institute of Medical Engineering (IMETUM). (Photo: K. Achterhold / TUM)

    For some years now it has been possible to generate high-brilliance X-rays using ring-shaped particle accelerators (synchrotron sources). However, such installations are several hundred meters in diameter and cost billions of euros. The world’s first mini synchrotron was inaugurated today at Technical University of Munich (TUM). It can generate high-brilliance X-rays on a footprint measuring just 5 x 3 meters. The new unit will be used chiefly to research biomedical questions relating to cancer, osteoporosis, pulmonary diseases and arteriosclerosis.

    Scientists and physicians are still routinely using X-rays for diagnostic purposes 120 years after their discovery. A major aim has therefore been to improve the quality of X-rays in order to make diagnoses more accurate. For example, soft tissues could thereby be visualized better and even minute tumors detected. For a considerable time, a team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) headed by Professor Franz Pfeiffer, Chair of Biomedical Physics, has been developing new X-ray techniques.

    Starting October 29th, the scientists will now be able to use the world’s first mini synchrotron for high-brilliance X-rays at their institute. The Munich Compact Light Source (MuCLS) is part of the new Center for Advanced Laser Applications (CALA), a joint project between TUM and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU).

    New technique: collision between electrons and a laser beam

    The California-based company Lyncean Technologies, which developed the mini synchrotron, employed a special technique. Large ring accelerators generate X-rays by deflecting high-energy electrons with magnets. They obtain high energies by means of extreme acceleration, and this requires big ring systems.

    The new synchrotron uses a technique where X-rays are generated when laser light collides with high-speed electrons – within a space that’s half as thin as a human hair. The major advantage of this approach is that the electrons can be traveling much more slowly. Consequently, they can be stored in a ring accelerator less than five meters in circumference, whereas synchrotrons need a circumference of nearly one thousand meters.

    “We used to have to reserve time slots on the large synchrotrons long in advance if we wanted to run an experiment. Now we can work with a system in our own laboratory – which will speed up our research work considerably,” says Pfeiffer.

    More intense, more variable and with better resolution

    Apart from being more compact, the new system has other advantages over conventional X-ray tubes. The X-rays it produces are extremely bright and intense. Moreover, the energy of the X-rays can be precisely controlled so that they can be used, for example, for examining different tissue types. They also provide much better spatial resolution, as the source of the beam is less diffuse thanks to the small collision space.

    “Brilliant X-rays can distinguish materials better, meaning that we will be able to detect much smaller tumors in tissue in the future. However, our research activities also include measuring bone properties in osteoporosis and determining altered sizes of pulmonary alveoli in diverse lung diseases,” explains Dr. Klaus Achterhold from the MuCLS team.

    The scientists will initially use the instrument mainly for preclinical research, i.e. examining tissue samples from patients. They will also combine the new X-ray source with other systems, such as phase contrast. The group headed by Franz Pfeiffer has developed and refined the new X-ray phase-contrast technique.

    See the full article here .

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    Techniche Universitat Munchin Campus

    Technische Universität München (TUM) is one of Europe’s top universities. It is committed to excellence in research and teaching, interdisciplinary education and the active promotion of promising young scientists. The university also forges strong links with companies and scientific institutions across the world. TUM was one of the first universities in Germany to be named a University of Excellence. Moreover, TUM regularly ranks among the best European universities in international rankings.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:18 pm on September 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Synchrotron science   

    From BNL: “First Users Usher in Science at the National Synchrotron Light Source II” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    September 16, 2015
    Chelsea Whyte

    BNL NSLS-II Building
    BNL NSLS-II Interior
    NSLS-II

    1
    The first users of the Coherent Soft X-ray (CSX) beamline with the CSX team and NSLS-II Director, John Hill.

    Over the summer, the National Synchrotron Light Source II hosted its first scientific users. The $912 million dollar facility at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory has been in design and construction mode for years, and the transition to scientific operations has been capped off with both scientific and industrial users experimenting at the new beamlines at NSLS-II, a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

    The Coherent Soft X-ray (CSX) beamline, the first to achieve ‘first light’ last October, hosted a team from the University of California, San Diego led by Dr. Sunil Sinha for research in condensed matter physics.

    “It’s exciting to host our first users,” said Stuart Wilkins, the CSX beamline leader who oversaw the design, planning, and construction of the beamline. “After so many years, it’s gratifying to see our beamline being used for it’s purpose, to do cutting-edge science.”

    Dr. Sinha and his team are pictured above at the ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the first users at NSLS-II, the brightest synchrotron light source in the world.

    At another beamline, the Submicron Resolution X-ray Spectroscopy (SRX) beamline, Juergen Thieme hosted industrial users from the Henkel corporation, a global player in the chemical industry.

    “Our users were very happy with their experience at SRX,” Thieme said. “They are experienced synchrotron users, and they chose to come to NSLS-II because of the performance of the machine. SRX is a beamline excellently suited for their research demands, and we look forward to working with them again in the future.”

    The next cycle of beam time open to scientific and industrial begins this fall, and the proposal submission deadline for winter is September 30, 2015.

    See the full article here .

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    BNL Campus

    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world.Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
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  • richardmitnick 2:42 pm on May 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From physicstoday: “Synchrotrons round the bend to make cheaper, better x rays” 

    physicstoday bloc

    physicstoday

    June 2015
    Toni Feder

    Sweden’s new national synchrotron light source, the MAX IV in Lund, is blazing the trail to produce the brightest x rays yet from a storage ring.

    MAX IV Lund
    MAX IV in Lund

    The record brightness, achieved by shrinking the emittance—the product of beam size and angular divergence—of the source electrons, is thanks largely to multibend achromats (MBAs).

    Today’s synchrotrons use groups of magnets, typically two or three dipole bending magnets plus focusing and correction magnets, to send electrons around a circular storage ring. The trick with MBAs is to use more bending magnets per group, or achromat. More focusing magnets can then be interspersed between bending magnets, which makes it easier to return wayward electrons to the fold. The resulting x-ray beam is smaller, brighter, and more coherent.

    “It’s mind-boggling that in electron storage rings, which have been mature for a couple of decades, there is still a factor of 50 improvement lurking, and if we are smart enough, we can figure out how to grab it,” says Stuart Henderson, director of the upgrade project at the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory [ANL], near Chicago.

    ANL APS
    ANL APS interior
    APS at ANL

    The first generation of light sources, in the 1970s, was parasitic to machines built for particle-physics experiments. (See the article by Giorgio Margaritondo, Physics Today, May 2008, page 37.) The second generation was optimized for flux. “In the third generation, we deployed undulators to produce bright beams, which were accompanied by reduced emittance,” says Henderson. (See Physics Today, January 1994, page 18.) The jump in performance promised by MBAs, in parallel with other technical advances, has people calling the MAX IV and other MBA-adopting facilities fourth-generation synchrotrons.

    “Coherence is the game changer for these fourth-generation storage rings,” Henderson says. “It gives you incredible resolution, particularly in [imaging] nonperiodic systems, which after all are what most of life is made of.” The improved coherence, the increased brightness—which “takes what you can do today and puts it on steroids”—and the larger field of view hold the promise of applications across many areas of science. For example, says Henderson, “with coherent flux at high x-ray energy, you could penetrate a fully functioning battery and, with resolution approaching atomic scale, look at the electrochemistry.” Other examples include studying the early stages of crack formation in structural materials and looking at a beating heart or a breathing lung in vivo.

    Picking up the ball

    Initially, the MBA approach was widely dismissed. But now, says Hamed Tarawneh, who is in charge of insertion devices at MAX IV, “many labs are copying the idea. Lund is the Mecca.” (See the interview with Tarawneh in the Singularities department of Physics Today’s online Daily Edition.)

    The idea of MBAs for synchrotron sources goes back to a 1995 paper by Dieter Einfeld, who was a machine physicist at the Elettra light source in Trieste, Italy. But, says Einfeld, now a consultant for the upgrade to the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France, “my colleagues didn’t look at this option in detail.” Until, he says, Mikael Eriksson of Sweden’s MAX IV “picked up the ball” in 2003.

    ESRF
    ESRF

    Eriksson, who heads the machine group at MAX IV, says the attraction of MBAs was their relatively low cost. “In Sweden, a small country, there was no use asking for money for a large machine,” he says. “So we went the other way and looked at how to build small technology, small magnets.” The MAX IV, with a circumference half the size of some existing third-generation light sources, will produce brighter beams.

    Meanwhile, several technical advances have smoothed the way to realizing MBAs. For example, the magnet requirements drive down the size of the vacuum tubes in which the electrons circulate, from the conventional diameter of 50 mm to only 22 mm. Evacuating such narrow tubes is possible with a nonevaporable getter, a distributed pumping system that uses an alloy coating to passively absorb molecules.

    Emittance decreases as the third power of the number of bending magnets in the storage ring. The vertical emittance is already small in third-generation storage rings, typically 5–10 picometer radians; it’s the horizontal emittance that is mainly affected as the electrons fly around the ring and radiate x rays. In the synchrotron business, there is a strong push toward the diffraction limit, for which the emittance is small enough that the brightness of the x-ray beams depends only on wavelength. “That is the holy grail,” says Eriksson. “MAX IV is a factor of 20 from that.” At MAX IV, the horizontal emittance will start at about 300 pm·rad, and go down to 150 pm·rad as undulators are added.

    Integrated magnets

    MAX IV will have two storage rings: a 528-m-circumference, 3-GeV ring for hard x rays, and a 96-m, 1.5-GeV ring for soft x rays, which is a traditional research strength in Sweden. Both rings will be fed by a 1.5-GeV injector that could later be lengthened for use as a free-electron laser.

    An innovative feature of MAX IV is that the MBAs are being machined into solid iron blocks (see photo on page 21). Each block is about 2.8 m long and houses a dipole bending magnet plus focusing and correcting quadrupole, sextupole, and octopole magnets. The 3-GeV ring will have 20 “seven-bend” MBAs, each made up of seven blocks. The 1.5-GeV ring will have 12 double-bend achromats. “The revolutionary thing is to have several magnets in one block,” says MAX IV laboratory director Christoph Quitmann. “Instead of installing 1000 magnets and aligning them carefully,” says Eriksson, “we only have to install 140 blocks. This is simpler. Everything is prealigned.”

    1
    The large storage ring at the MAX IV light source in Lund, Sweden, has 20 seven-bend magnets; the lower half of one is shown here. The upper half will be added as the final installation step. Carving the magnets into iron blocks cuts costs and simplifies the alignment process.

    The computerized precision machining “makes it possible to build a huge number of magnets, mechanically stable, all for affordable cost,” says Quitmann. And, he adds, “because the magnets are smaller, the magnets in the new facility will use 10 times less power per meter of circumference than Sweden’s present third-generation machine. We will have five times more circumference but use half the electrical power. We are much more environmentally friendly, which gives a political benefit, and we save money.” The total cost of MAX IV is $500 million, including the site, buildings, three accelerators, and the first 8 of as many as 26 beamlines. Startup for users is scheduled for June 2016.

    “Everybody got excited”

    Two other new synchrotrons are being built from scratch with MBAs: Sirius, a 3-GeV facility in Campinas, Brazil, and Solaris, a replica of MAX IV’s low-energy ring, in Krakow, Poland (see the story on page 23). The ESRF is the only upgrade to MBAs yet funded, but considerations are under way at many facilities, including Soleil in France, Diamond in the UK, SPring-8 in Japan, and the APS and Advanced Light Source in the US.

    The $430 million Sirius will use five-bend MBAs. “We achieve the same emittance as Lund with fewer bends because our optics is more aggressive,” says Sirius accelerator physicist Liu Lin. “It’s a tradeoff. In principle, we have more room for insertion devices.” At Sirius, the magnets will be mounted separately, partly because the precise machining capability for the integrated magnet blocks is not locally available. Sirius is slated to turn on for debugging in 2018.

    ESRF director Francesco Sette says that the idea of an upgrade using MBAs was abandoned in 2008 because at the time switching would have meant an injection efficiency of less than 1% “or an unsustainable upgrade cost.” Then, he says, in 2012 Pantaleo Raimondi, who heads the facility’s accelerator and source division, found a solution: a hybrid seven-bend achromat, in which the dipoles are not all identical. “By adapting the bending,” explains Sette, “the energy and momentum of the electrons from the injector can be matched to the storage ring. Everybody got excited.”

    The approval and funding process for an ESRF upgrade moved quickly. “We will rip out everything in the storage ring except the straight sections,” says Sette. The horizontal emittance will shrink to 60–100 pm·rad from its current 4 nm·rad, he says. The €340 million ($380 million) upgrade began in January and is scheduled to be finished by 2022. Now, says Sette, “the biggest challenge is to deliver with minimal disruption of the user program.”

    At around the same time the ESRF upgrade got the green light, the US Department of Energy’s Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee looked at the US position in the international landscape of light sources. “The consensus was that the US has to get its act together in terms of light sources. The US has to have a plan to ensure competitiveness,” says Henderson.

    The APS upgrade team is looking at a hybrid MBA design similar to ESRF’s. The emittance drops rapidly with the number of bends, but there are tradeoffs to having more bends, Henderson says. “It requires gymnastics in the correction magnets. There seems to be a sweet spot around seven bends [for the APS]. Five is not aggressive enough, and nine looks too complicated.”

    Along with the switch to MBAs, the APS would decrease the energy of its storage ring from 7 GeV to 6 GeV. That’s advantageous because emittance scales as the square of the energy, explains Henderson. Combined, he says, the two changes will reduce the emittance by a factor of 50. The horizontal emittance will be about 67 pm·rad. “We can make up for the beam energy by using superconducting undulators. Replacing permanent magnets with superconducting undulator magnets gives you a boost in flux, particularly with hard x rays.”

    Fourth-generation upgrades for APS and the Advanced Light Source are not yet priced out or funded. But to stay competitive, says Henderson, they have to be in operation by the mid 2020s. “Pretty much everyone is looking to upgrade with MBA.” And, says Eriksson, “Others are now pushing their magnet lattices harder than we dared to do.”

    Japan intends to upgrade its light source, SPring-8, on a similar time scale. The plan there is to use five-bend hybrid achromats and to reduce the storage ring energy from 8 GeV to 6 GeV; the ultimate target emittance is around 10 pm·rad, says director Tetsuya Ishikawa. The project, not yet funded, will cost an estimated ¥40 billion ($340 million).

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 1:23 pm on July 29, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From Symmetry: “Partnership generates bright ideas for photon science” 

    Symmetry

    July 29, 2014
    Calla Cofield

    Photon science, a spin-off of particle physics, has returned to its roots for help developing better, faster detectors.

    In late 1940s, scientists doing fundamental physics research at the General Electric Research Laboratory in Schenectady, New York, noticed a bright arc of light coming from their particle accelerator. As a beam of electrons whipped around the accelerator’s circular track, photons trickled away like water from a punctured hose.

    At the time, this was considered a problem; the leaking photons were sapping energy from the electron beam. But scientists at labs around the world were already looking into the phenomenon, and not long after, circular particle accelerators were being built explicitly to capture the escaping light.

    Today, these instruments are called synchrotrons, and they serve as powerful tools for studying the atomic and molecular structure of a seemingly limitless number of materials.

    Despite their symbiotic beginning, synchrotron science and particle physics existed largely independent of one another. However, recent developments in the design and construction of particle detectors for synchrotron experiments—as well as new light source instruments—have sparked a reunion.

    The custom-detector revolution

    Modern synchrotrons generate powerful beams of light—infrared, ultraviolet, or X-ray—and aim them at a sample—such as a protein being tested for use in a drug. The light interacts with the sample, bouncing off of it, passing through it or being absorbed into it. (Imagine a beam of sunlight diffracting in a crystal or reflecting off the face of a watch.) By detecting how the sample changes the light, scientists can gather all kinds of information about its structure, make-up and behavior.

    A synchrotron facility can host dozens of experiments at a time. The detector plays a vital role in each one: It captures the light, which becomes the data, which holds the answers to the experimenter’s questions.

    And yet from the 1950s through the 1990s, the vast majority of detectors used at synchrotrons were not built specifically for these experiments. The designers and engineers would usually buy off-the-shelf X-ray detectors intended for other purposes, or adapt used detectors the best they could to fit the needs of the users.

    Heinz Graafsma, head of the detector group at DESY, the German Electron Synchrotron, says the science coming out of synchrotrons during this time of patchwork detectors was fantastic, thanks largely to the dramatic improvements to the quality of the light beam. But that same rapid advancement made developing detectors “like shooting at a moving target,” Graafsma says. Customized detectors could take as long as a decade to design and build, and in that time the brightness of the light beam could go up by two or three orders of magnitude, rendering the detector obsolete.

    The lack of custom detectors may also simply have come down to tight budgets, says Sol Grunner, former director of the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source or CHESS.

    cornell macchess
    Cornell MacCHESS

    Frustrated with the limits of detector technology, Gunner became one of the early pioneers to build custom detectors for synchrotrons, allowing scientists to conduct experiments that could not be done otherwise. His work in the 1990s helped set the stage for a cultural shift in synchrotron detectors.
    A renewed partnership

    In the last 15 years, things have changed, especially with the advent of the free-electron laser—a kind of synchrotron on steroids.

    felix
    The free-electron laser FELIX at the FOM Institute for Plasma Physics Rijnhuizen (nl), Nieuwegein, The Netherlands.

    Photon scientists have begun to face some of the same challenges as particle physicists: Scientists at light sources increasingly must collect huge amounts of data at a dizzying rate.

    So they have begun to look to particle physicists for technological insight. The partnerships that have developed have turned out to be beneficial for both sides.

    The Linac Coherent Light Source, an X-ray free-electron laser at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, has six beamlines open for users. The LCLS has produced 6 petabytes of data in its first five years of operation and currently averages 1.5 petabytes per year. That much stored data is comparable to the major experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

    SLAC LCLS
    SLAC LCLS

    “There’s a big team, it’s actually bigger than the detector team, handling the big data that comes out of the LCLS,” says Chris Kenny, head of the LCLS detector group. “A lot of the know-how and a lot of the people were taken directly from particle physics.”

    At the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory, a group led by Pete Siddons is developing a detector that will use something called a Vertically Integrated Photon Imaging Chip, designed by high-energy physicists at Fermilab. VIPIC is an example of a circuit built with a specific purpose in mind, rather than a generic circuit that can have many applications. High-energy physics helped pioneer the creation of application-specific integrated circuits, called ASICs.

    Brookhaven NSLS
    Brookhaven NSLS

    With the advanced capability of the VIPIC chip, the researchers hope the new detector will allow synchrotron users to watch fast processes as they take place. This could include watching materials undergo phase transitions, such as the change between liquid and solid.

    Siddons and his NSLS detector team are building the silicon detectors that will capture the light, but they need particle physicists to fabricate the highly specialized integrated circuits for sorting all the incoming information.

    “Making integrated circuits is a very, very specialized, tricky business,” Siddons says.

    Physicists and engineers at Fermilab design the circuits, which are then fabricated at commercial foundries. Fermilab scientists then put the circuits and particle sensors together into large integrated systems. The collaborative project will also involve contributions by scientists at Argonne National Laboratory and AGH University of Science and Technology in Krakow, Poland.

    “You need very expensive software tools to do it—for doing the design and layout and simulating and checking,” Siddons says. “And they have that, because the high-energy physics community has been building large detector systems forever.”

    Benefits for both sides

    Compared to those used in synchrotron science, particle physics detectors live very long lives.

    “We may build a few large scale detectors a decade,” says Ron Lipton, a Fermilab scientist who has been involved with the development of several large scale particle physics detectors and is a collaborator on the VIPIC chip.

    Partnering with synchrotron science has given particle physicists a chance to develop and test new technologies on a shorter time scale, he says.

    Scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland used chip technology from particle physics experiments at CERN to create one of the most widely used custom synchrotron detectors: the Pilatus detector. Researchers at Fermilab and DESY say the work put into technologies like this have already fed new information and new ideas back into particle physics.

    Collaboration also provides work for detector engineers and increases the market need for detector components, which drives down costs, Lipton says.

    These days, more synchrotron facilities employ scientists and engineers to design custom detectors for lab use or for future commercialization. Half a dozen detectors, designed especially for light sources, are already available.

    “It is at the moment very exciting,” Graafsma says. “There are budgets available. The facilities see this as an important issue. But also the technology is now available. So we can really build the detectors we want.”

    See the full article here.

    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.



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