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  • richardmitnick 8:06 am on September 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , X-ray Technology   

    From Science Alert: “Here’s how physicists accelerate particles to 99.99% the speed of light” 


    Science Alert


    Business Insider

    15 SEP 2016

    NSLS II. Brookhaven National Laboratory

    By now, you might be familiar with the concept of particle accelerators through the work of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the monstrous accelerator that enabled scientists to detect the Higgs boson.

    CERN/LHC Map
    CERN LHC Grand Tunnel
    CERN LHC particles
    LHC at CERN

    But the LHC is not alone – the world is equipped with more than 30,000 particle accelerators that are used for a seemingly endless variety of tasks.

    Some of these machines, like the LHC, accelerate particles to nearly the speed of light to smash them together and probe the fundamental building blocks of our universe. Others are used to seal milk cartons and bags of potato chips.

    Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York is home to one of the world’s most advanced particle accelerators: the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS II).

    The NSLS II will allow researchers to do a wide range of science varying from developing better drug treatments, to building more advanced computer chips, to analysing everything from the molecules in your body to the soil you walk on.

    When scientists accelerate particles to these crazy speeds in the NSLS II, they force them to release energy which they can manipulate to do a mind-boggling array of different experiments.

    As electrons moving at nearly the speed of light go around turns, they lose energy in the form of radiation, such as X-rays. The X-rays produced at the NSLS II are extremely bright – a billion times brighter than the X-ray machine at your dentist’s office.

    When scientists focus this extremely bright light onto a very small spot, it allows them to probe matter at an atomic scale. It’s kind of like a microscope on steroids.

    Here’s how the NSLS II pushes particles to 99.99 percent the speed of light – all in the name of science.

    First, the electron gun generates electron beams and feeds them into the linear accelerator, or linac.

    In the linac, electromagnets and microwave radio-frequency fields are used to accelerate the electrons, which must travel in a vacuum to ensure they don’t bump into other particles and slow down.

    Next, the electrons enter a booster ring, where magnets and radio-frequency fields accelerate them to approximately 99.9 percent percent the speed of light.

    Then they are injected into a circular ring called a storage ring.

    Ali Sundermier

    In the storage ring, the electrons are steered by an assortment of magnets.

    The blue magnets bend the motion of the electrons, the yellow magnets focus and defocus the path of the electrons, and the red and orange magnets take outlying electrons and bring them into a closer path.

    The smaller magnets are corrector magnets, which keep the beam in line.

    Ali Sundermier

    This is an insertion device in the storage ring. Insertion devices are magnetic structures that wiggle the electron beam as it passes through the device. This produces an extremely bright and focused beam.

    Ali Sundermier

    As the electrons go around turns in the storage ring, they decelerate slightly, losing energy.

    The lost energy can be converted into different forms of electromagnetic radiation, such as X-rays, that are directed down beamlines running in straight lines tangential to the storage ring.

    At the end of the beamline, the X-rays crash into samples of whatever material is the subject of the experiment.

    Ali Sundermier

    This is an X-ray spectroscopy beamline, where scientists analyse the chemical composition of materials by exciting the electrons in an atom.

    Ali Sundermier

    The circumference of the NSLS-II is so big, nearly half a mile, that many people working there travel around on tricycles.

    The NSLS II is still in the early stages of its development, having just taken over for its successor (the NSLS), in 2014. When it’s complete, it will be able to accommodate about 70 different beamlines.

    Ali Sundermier

    This article was originally published by Business Insider.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 11:15 am on September 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Snapshots of molecules, X-ray Technology   

    From ANL: “Seeing energized light-active molecules proves quick work for Argonne scientists” 

    ANL Lab

    News from Argonne National Laboratory

    September 8, 2016
    Jared Sagoff

    For people who enjoy amusement parks, one of the most thrilling sensations comes at the top of a roller coaster, in the split second between the end of the climb and the rush of the descent. Trying to take a picture at exactly the moment that the roller coaster reaches its zenith can be difficult because the drop happens so suddenly.

    For chemists trying to take pictures of energized molecules, the dilemma is precisely the same, if not trickier. When certain molecules are excited – like a roller coaster poised at the very top of its run – they often stay in their new state for only an instant before “falling” into a lower energy state.

    To understand how molecules undergo light-driven chemical transformations, scientists need to be able to follow the atoms and electrons within the energized molecule as it rides on the energy “roller coaster.”

    In a recent study, a team of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory, Northwestern University, the University of Washington and the Technical University of Denmark used the ultrafast high-intensity pulsed X-rays produced by the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, to take molecular snapshots of these molecules.


    By using the LCLS, the researchers were able to capture atomic and electronic arrangements within the molecule that had lifetimes as short as 50 femtoseconds – which is about the amount of time it takes light to travel the width of a human hair.

    “We can see changes in these energized molecules which happen incredibly quickly,” said Lin Chen, an Argonne senior chemist and professor of chemistry at Northwestern University who led the research.

    Chen and her team looked the structure of a metalloporphyrin, a molecule similar to important building blocks for natural and artificial photosynthesis. Metalloporphyrins are of interest to scientists who seek to convert solar energy into fuel by splitting water to generate hydrogen or converting carbon dioxide into sugars or other types of fuels.

    Specifically, the research team examined how the metalloporphyrin changes after it is excited with a laser. They discovered an extremely short-lived “transient state” that lasted only a few hundred femtoseconds before the molecule relaxed into a lower energy state.

    “Although we had previously captured the molecular structure of a longer-lived state, the structure of this transient state eluded our detection because its lifetime was too short,” Chen said.

    When the laser pulse hits the molecule, an electron from the outer ring moves into the nickel metal center. This creates a charge imbalance, which in turn creates an instability within the whole molecule. In short order, another electron from the nickel migrates back to the outer ring, and the excited electron falls back into the lower open orbital to take its place.

    “This first state appears and disappears so quickly, but it’s imperative for the development of things like solar fuels,” Chen said. “Ideally, we want to find ways to make this state last longer to enable the subsequent chemical processes that may lead to catalysis, but just being able to see that it is there in the first place is important.”

    The challenge, Chen said, is to prolong the lifetime of the excited state through the design of the metalloporphyrin molecule. “From this study, we gained knowledge of which molecular structural element, such as bond length and planarity of the ring, can influence the excited state property,” Chen said. “With these results we might be able to design a system to allow us to harvest much of the energy in the excited state.”

    A paper based on the research, “Ultrafast excited state relaxation of a metalloporphyrin revealed by femtosecond X-ray absorption spectroscopy,” was published in the June 10 online edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

    The research was funded by the DOE’s Office of Science and by the National Institute of Health.

    See the full article here .

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    Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more visit http://www.anl.gov.

    The Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory is one of five national synchrotron radiation light sources supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science to carry out applied and basic research to understand, predict, and ultimately control matter and energy at the electronic, atomic, and molecular levels, provide the foundations for new energy technologies, and support DOE missions in energy, environment, and national security. To learn more about the Office of Science X-ray user facilities, visit http://science.energy.gov/user-facilities/basic-energy-sciences/.

    Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science

    Argonne Lab Campus

  • richardmitnick 4:35 pm on August 31, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , LBNL ALS, X-ray Technology   

    From LBNL: “Researchers Peel Back Another Layer of Chemistry with ‘Tender’ X-rays” 

    Berkeley Logo

    Berkeley Lab

    August 31, 2016
    Glenn Roberts Jr.

    Berkeley Lab’s Ethan Crumlin, working with other researchers, found a new way to study chemical processes at work in batteries and in other chemical reactions using a specialized X-ray toolkit developed at the lab’s Advanced Light Source, an X-ray source. The technique was pioneered at the ALS’s Beam Line 9.3.1. (Credit: Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab)

    Scientists can now directly probe a previously hard-to-see layer of chemistry thanks to a unique X-ray toolkit developed at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). The X-ray tools and techniques could be extended, researchers say, to provide new insight about battery performance and corrosion, a wide range of chemical reactions, and even biological and environmental processes that rely on similar chemistry.

    In a first-of-its-kind experiment at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source [ALS], an X-ray source known as a synchrotron, researchers demonstrated this new, direct way to study the inner workings of an activity center in chemistry known as an “electrochemical double layer” that forms where liquids meets solids—where battery fluid (the electrolyte) meets an electrode, for example (batteries have two electrodes: an anode and a cathode).

    LBL Advanced Light Source

    A key breakthrough enabling the latest experiment was in tailoring “tender” X-rays—which have an energy range tuned in a middle ground between the typical high-energy (or “hard”) and low-energy (or “soft”) X-rays used in research—to focus on chemistry within the double layer of a sample electrochemical system. The related study was published Aug. 31 in Nature Communications.

    Drilling down on the double layer

    In a battery, this electrochemical double layer describes the layer of charged atoms or molecules in the battery’s fluid that are drawn in and cling to the surface of the electrode because of their opposite electrical charge—an essential step in battery operation—and a second and closely related zone of chemical activity that is affected by the chemistry at the electrode’s surface. The complex molecular-scale dance of charge flow and transfer within a battery’s double layer is central to its function.

    This stylized representation shows an electrochemical double layer, the heart of solid/liquid chemical interactions such as those occurring around a battery’s electrode. An experiment at Berkeley Lab used X-rays to study the properties of the double layer that formed as positively or negatively charged particles (ions, shown as plus and minus symbols) were drawn to a gold electrode (left). The experiment featured neutrally charged pyrazine molecules (dark blue) suspended in a water-based electrolyte, composed of potassium hydroxide. Researchers precisely measured changes in the charge properties of molecules caused by changes to the electric charge applied to the electrode and to the ion concentration of the electrolyte in the double-layer region. (Credit: Zosia Rostomian/Berkeley Lab)

    The latest work shows changes in the electric “potential” in this double layer. This potential is a location-based measure of the effect of an electric field on an object—an increased potential would be found in an electric charge moving toward a lightbulb, and flows to a lower potential after powering on the lightbulb.

    “To be able to directly probe any attribute of the double layer is a significant advancement,” said Ethan Crumlin, a research scientist at Berkeley Lab’s ALS who led the experiment. “Essentially, we now have a direct map, showing how potential within the double layer changes based on adjustments to the electrode charge and electrolyte concentration. Independent of a model, we can directly see this—it’s literally a picture of the system at that time.”

    He added, “This will help us with guidance of theoretical models as well as materials design and development of improved electrochemical, environmental, biological, and chemical systems.”

    New technique confronts decades-old problem

    Zahid Hussain, division deputy for scientific support at the ALS, who participated in the experiment, added, “The problem of understanding solid/liquid interfaces has been known for 50-plus years—everybody has been using simulations and modeling to try to conceive of what’s at work.” The latest work has narrowed the list of candidate models that explain what’s at work in the double layer.

    Hussain more than a decade ago had helped to pioneer X-ray tools and techniques at the ALS, which dozens of other research sites have since adopted, that allow researchers to study another important class of chemical reactions: those that occur between solids and gases.

    There was a clear need to create new study tools for solid/liquid reactions, too, he said. “Solid/liquid interfaces are key for all kinds of research, from batteries to fuel cells to artificial photosynthesis,” the latter which seeks to synthesize plants’ conversion of sunlight into energy.

    Hubert Gasteiger, a chemistry professor at the Technical University of Munich and the university’s chair of technical electrochemistry who is familiar with the latest experiment, said, “This work is already quite applicable to real problems,” as it provides new insight about the potential distribution within the double layer.

    “No one has been able to look into this roughly 10-nanometer-thin region of the electrochemical double layer in this way before,” he said. “This is one of the first papers where you have a probe of the potential distribution here. Using this tool to validate double-layer models I think would give us insight into many electrochemical systems that are of industrial relevance.”

    Probing active chemistry in changing conditions

    In the experiment, researchers from Berkeley Lab and Shanghai studied the active chemistry of a gold electrode and a water-containing electrolyte that also contained a neutrally charged molecule called pyrazine. They used a technique called ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (APXPS) to measure the potential distribution for water and pyrazine molecules across the solid/liquid interface in response to changes in the electrode potential and the electrolyte concentration.

    A view inside the experimental chamber used in a chemistry experiment at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source. Researchers used ‘tender’ X-rays to explore a nanometers-thick region known as the electrochemical double layer at ALS Beam Line 9.3.1. (Credit: Marilyn Chung)

    The experiment demonstrated a new, direct way to precisely measure a potential drop in the stored electrical energy within the double layer’s electrolyte solution. These measurements also allowed researchers to determine associated charge properties across the interface (known as the “potential of zero charge” or “pzc”).

    Upgrade, new beamline will enhance studies

    Importantly, the technique is well-suited to active chemistry, and there are plans to add new capabilities to make this technique more robust for studying finer details during the course of chemical reactions, and to bring in other complementary X-ray study techniques to add new details, Hussain said.

    An upgrade to the X-ray beamline where the experiment was conducted is now in progress and is expected to conclude early next year. Also, a brand new beamline that will marry this and several other X-ray capabilities for energy-related research, dubbed AMBER (Advanced Materials Beamline for Energy Research) is under construction at the ALS and is scheduled to begin operating in 2018.

    “What’s absolutely key to these new experiments is that they will be carried out in actual, operating conditions—in a working electrochemical cell,” Hussain said. “Ultimately, we will be able to understand how a material behaves down to the level of electrons and atoms, and also to understand charge-transfer and corrosion,” a key problem in battery longevity.

    Researchers from the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in the Republic of Korea, the Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology in China, and the School of Physical Science and Technology in China participated in this research. The work was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office Science, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences-Shanghai Science Research Center.

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

    See the full article here .

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    A U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory Operated by the University of California

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  • richardmitnick 7:39 pm on August 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , X-ray Technology   

    From SLAC: “Poof! The Weird Case of the X-ray that Came Out Blank” 

    SLAC Lab

    August 29, 2016

    A ‘Nonlinear’ Effect that Seemingly Turns Materials Transparent is Seen for the First Time in X-rays at SLAC’s LCLS

    An illustration shows what happens in a typical experiment with SLAC’s LCLS X-ray laser, top, versus what happened in this study with an especially intense X-ray pulse. Normally the X-ray pulses — which are shown coming in from the right — scatter off electrons in a sample and produce a pattern in a detector. But when researchers cranked up the intensity of the X-ray pulses, the pulses seemed to go straight through the sample, as if it were not there, and the pattern in the detector vanished. Two recent papers describe and explain this surprising result, which is due to a ‘nonlinear’ effect where particles of X-ray light team up to cause unexpected things to happen. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    Imagine getting a medical X-ray that comes out blank – as if your bones had vanished. That’s what happened when scientists cranked up the intensity of the world’s first X-ray laser, at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, to get a better look at a sample they were studying: The X-rays seemed to go right through it as if it were not there.

    This result was so weird that the leader of the experiment, SLAC Professor Joachim Stöhr, devoted the next three years to developing a theory that explains why it happened. Now his team has published a paper in Physical Review Letters describing the 2012 experiment for the first time.

    What they saw was a so-called nonlinear effect where more than one photon, or particle of X-ray light, enters a sample at the same time, and they team up to cause unexpected things to happen.

    “In this case, the X-rays wiggled electrons in the sample and made them emit a new beam of X-rays that was identical to the one that went in,” said Stöhr, who is an investigator with the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences at SLAC. “It continued along the same path and hit a detector. So from the outside, it looked like a single beam went straight through and the sample was completely transparent.”

    This effect, called “stimulated scattering,” had never been seen in X-rays before. In fact, it took an extremely intense beam from SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), which is a billion times brighter than any X-ray source before it, to make this happen.


    A Milestone in Understanding How Light Interacts with Matter

    The observation is a milestone in the quest to understand how light interacts with matter, Stöhr said.

    “What will we do with it? I think we’re just starting to learn. This is a new phenomenon and I don’t want to speculate,” he said. “But it opens the door to controlling the electrons that are closest to the core of atoms ­– boosting them into higher orbitals, and driving them back down in a very controlled manner, and doing this over and over again.”

    Nonlinear optical effects are nothing new. They were discovered in the1960s with the invention of the laser – the first source of light so bright that it could send more than one photon into a sample at a time, triggering responses that seemed all out of proportion to the amount of light energy going in. Scientists use these effects to shift laser light to much higher energies and focus optical microscopes on much smaller objects than anyone had thought possible.

    The 2009 opening of LCLS as a DOE Office of Science User Facility introduced another fundamentally new tool, the X-ray free-electron laser, and scientists have spent a lot of time since then figuring out exactly what it can do. For instance, a SLAC-led team recently published [Nature Physics] the first report of nonlinear effects produced by its brilliant pulses.

    “The X-ray laser is really a quantum leap, the equivalent of going from a light bulb to an optical laser,” Stöhr said. “So it’s not just that you have more X-rays. The interaction of the X-rays with the sample is very different, and there are effects you could never see at other types of X-ray light sources.”

    “The X-ray laser is really a quantum leap, the equivalent of going from a light bulb to an optical laser,” Stöhr said. “So it’s not just that you have more X-rays. The interaction of the X-rays with the sample is very different, and there are effects you could never see at other types of X-ray light sources.”

    A Most Puzzling Result

    Stöhr stumbled on this latest discovery by accident. Then director of LCLS, he was working with Andreas Scherz, a SLAC staff scientist, who is now with the soon-to-open European XFEL in Hamburg, Germany, and Stanford graduate student Benny Wu to look at the fine structure of a common magnetic material used in data storage.

    To enhance the contrast of their image, they tuned the LCLS beam to a wavelength that would resonate with cobalt atoms in the sample and amplify the signal in their detector. The initial results looked great. So they turned up the intensity of the laser beam in the hope of making the images even sharper.

    That’s when the speckled pattern they’d been seeing in their detector went blank, as if the sample had disappeared.

    “We thought maybe we had missed the sample, so we checked the alignment and tried again,” Stöhr said. “But it kept happening. We knew this was strange – that there was something here that needed to be understood.”

    Stöhr is an experimentalist, not a theorist, but he was determined to find answers. He and Scherz dove deeply into the scientific literature. Meanwhile Wu finished his PhD thesis, which described the experiment and its unexpected result, and went on to a job in industry. But the team held off on publishing their experimental results in a scientific journal until they could explain what happened.

    Stöhr and Scherz published their explanation last fall in Physical Review Letters.

    “We are developing a whole new field of nonlinear X-ray science, and our study is just one building block in this field,” Stöhr said. “We are basically opening Pandora’s box, learning about all the different nonlinear effects, and eventually some of those will turn out to be more important than others.”

    The study included other collaborators from SLAC and Stanford, and was funded by the DOE Office of Science.

    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 10:18 am on August 18, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , New X-Ray Matter Interaction Observed at Ultra-High Intensity, , X-ray Technology   

    From SLAC via DOE: “New X-Ray Matter Interaction Observed at Ultra-High Intensity” 

    SLAC Lab


    Basic Energy Sciences

    Previously unobserved scattering shows unexpected sensitivity to bound electrons, providing new insights into x-ray interactions with matter and opening the door to new probes of matter.

    David A. Reis
    Stanford PULSE Institute

    Artistic rendering of an intense x-ray beam interacting with metallic beryllium. In the central part of the image, two photons (white lines) interact simultaneously with a single electron of one of the beryllium atoms (sphere), emitting the electron (red streak) and a single higher energy photon (wavy blue line), while leaving the atom in an excited state (purple-blue color). Researchers found that the spectrum of the emitted high-energy photon disagreed with theoretical predictions. Image courtesy of Joel Brehm.

    The Science

    For the first time, researchers explored an extremely rare, but fundamental, process, in which two packets of light called photons scatter simultaneously from a single electron—in this case, from individual atoms in a beryllium metal target. Using the extremely high intensity x-ray laser at the Linac Coherent Light Source, they found that the details of this process deviated dramatically from expectations based on the usual assumption that the electrons behaved as quasi-free in the x-ray interaction.


    The researchers explain this anomaly in terms of a new x-ray matter interaction that they predict to have unprecedented specificity for light elements, like beryllium.

    The Impact

    In addition to providing new fundamental insights about x-ray interactions, this discovery has broad implications for understanding and controlling the fastest processes in chemical reactivity and energy conversion. The work may lead to powerful new probe techniques at x-ray free electron laser facilities to provide fundamental understanding of ultrafast chemical processes.


    The basis for atomic‐scale structure determination involves the scattering of single x‐ray photons, one at a time, from the electrons that make up all materials. Spatial resolution is achieved through a combination of the short wavelength of x-rays and the concentration of the electron density around the individual atoms. For x-ray interactions, these atomic electrons generally behave almost as if they were free. In special cases involving heavy atoms, researchers can achieve simultaneously a level of chemical specificity and spatial resolution, but this is not the case for the lighter atoms that are ubiquitous in most biological and energy-relevant materials. Thus, new methods to achieve chemical specificity for light atoms in structure determination would be revolutionary. In the current work, the researchers used the unprecedented x-ray intensity produced by the Linac Coherent Light Source x-ray laser to observe the concerted nonlinear Compton scattering of two identical hard x-ray photons from the light element beryllium to produce a single higher-energy photon. Not only did the researchers make the first observation of this fundamental process, they also observed an anomalously large shift toward longer wavelengths for the scattered photon. The large wavelength shift is indicative of an interaction that shows properties of scattering from bound (non-free) electrons, which implies that this process could be used as a chemically specific probe. Furthermore, because the nonlinear interaction requires the x-rays to coincide at precisely the same location in time and space, the mechanism is also applicable to studying the fastest processes involving electron motion in chemical reactivity and energy conversion.


    This work was supported primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES) and the Volkswagen Foundation. Portions of this research were carried out at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Preparatory measurements were carried out at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Light Source (SSRL). Both LCLS and SSRL are Office of Science user facilities operated for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science by Stanford University.

    M. Fuchs, et al., Anomalous nonlinear x-ray Compton scattering. Nature Physics 11, 964 (2015). [DOI: 10.1038/nphys3452]

    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 12:00 pm on August 13, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Light sources, , , X-ray Technology   

    From CERN Courier: “MAX IV paves the way for ultimate X-ray microscope” 

    CERN Courier

    Sweden’s MAX IV facility is the first storage ring to employ a multi-bend achromat. Mikael Eriksson and Dieter Einfeld describe how this will produce smaller and more stable X-ray beams, taking synchrotron science closer to the X-ray diffraction limit.

    Aug 12, 2016

    Mikael Eriksson, Maxlab, Lund, Sweden,
    Dieter Einfeld, ESRF, Grenoble, France.


    Since the discovery of X-rays by Wilhelm Röntgen more than a century ago, researchers have striven to produce smaller and more intense X-ray beams. With a wavelength similar to interatomic spacings, X-rays have proved to be an invaluable tool for probing the microstructure of materials. But a higher spectral power density (or brilliance) enables a deeper study of the structural, physical and chemical properties of materials, in addition to studies of their dynamics and atomic composition.

    For the first few decades following Röntgen’s discovery, the brilliance of X-rays remained fairly constant due to technical limitations of X-ray tubes. Significant improvements came with rotating-anode sources, in which the heat generated by electrons striking an anode could be distributed over a larger area. But it was the advent of particle accelerators in the mid-1900s that gave birth to modern X-ray science. A relativistic electron beam traversing a circular storage ring emits X-rays in a tangential direction. First observed in 1947 by researchers at General Electric in the US, such synchrotron radiation has taken X-ray science into new territory by providing smaller and more intense beams.

    Generation game

    First-generation synchrotron X-ray sources were accelerators built for high-energy physics experiments, which were used “parasitically” by the nascent synchrotron X-ray community. As this community started to grow, stimulated by the increased flux and brilliance at storage rings, the need for dedicated X-ray sources with different electron-beam characteristics resulted in several second-generation X-ray sources. As with previous machines, however, the source of the X-rays was the bending magnets of the storage ring.

    The advent of special “insertion devices” led to present-day third-generation storage rings – the first being the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France, and the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, which began operation in the early 1990s.

    ESRF. Grenoble, France
    ESRF. Grenoble, France


    Instead of using only the bending magnets as X-ray emitters, third-generation storage rings have straight sections that allow periodic magnet structures called undulators and wigglers to be introduced. These devices consist of rows of short magnets with alternating field directions so that the net beam deflection cancels out. Undulators can house 100 or so permanent short magnets, each emitting X-rays in the same direction, which boosts the intensity of the emitted X-rays by two orders of magnitude. Furthermore, interference effects between the emitting magnets can concentrate X-rays of a given energy by another two orders of magnitude.

    Third-generation light sources have been a major success story, thanks in part to the development of excellent modelling tools that allow accelerator physicists to produce precise lattice designs. Today, there are around 50 third-generation light sources worldwide, with a total number of users in the region of 50,000. Each offers a number of X-ray beamlines (up to 40 at the largest facilities) that fan out from the storage ring: X-rays pass through a series of focusing and other elements before being focused on a sample positioned at the end station, with the longest beamlines (measuring 150 m or more) at the largest light sources able to generate X-ray spot sizes a few tens of nanometres in diameter. Facilities typically operate around the clock, during which teams of users spend anywhere between a few hours to a few days undertaking experimental shifts, before returning to their home institutes with the data.

    Although the corresponding storage-ring technology for third-generation light sources has been regarded as mature, a revolutionary new lattice design has led to another step up in brightness. The MAX IV facility at Maxlab in Lund, Sweden, which was inaugurated in June, is the first such facility to demonstrate the new lattice. Six years in construction, the facility has demanded numerous cutting-edge technologies – including vacuum systems developed in conjunction with CERN – to become the most brilliant source of X-rays in the world.

    Iron-block magnets

    Initial ideas for the MAX IV project started at the end of the 20th century. Although the flagship of the Maxlab laboratory, the low-budget MAX II storage ring, was one of the first third-generation synchrotron radiation sources, it was soon outcompeted by several larger and more powerful sources entering operation. Something had to be done to maintain Maxlab’s accelerator programme.

    The dominant magnetic lattice at third-generation light sources consists of double-bend achromats (DBAs), which have been around since the 1970s.

    MAX IV undulator

    A typical storage ring contains 10–30 achromats, each consisting of two dipole magnets and a number of magnet lenses: quadrupoles for focusing and sextupoles for chromaticity correction (at MAX IV we also added octupoles to compensate for amplitude-dependent tune shifts). The achromats are flanked by straight sections housing the insertion devices, and the dimensions of the electron beam in these sections is minimised by adjusting the dispersion of the beam (which describes the dependence of an electron’s transverse position on its energy) to zero. Other storage-ring improvements, for example faster correction of the beam orbit, have also helped to boost the brightness of modern synchrotrons. The key quantity underpinning these advances is the electron-beam emittance, which is defined as the product of the electron-beam size and its divergence.

    Despite such improvements, however, today’s third-generation storage rings have a typical electron-beam emittance of between 2–5 nm rad, which is several hundred times larger than the diffraction limit of the X-ray beam itself. This is the point at which the size and spread of the electron beam approaches the diffraction properties of X-rays, similar to the Abbe diffraction limit for visible light. Models of machine lattices with even smaller electron-beam emittances predict instabilities and/or short beam lifetimes that make the goal of reaching the diffraction limit at hard X-ray energies very distant.

    Although it had been known for a long time that a larger number of bends decreases the emittance (and therefore increases the brilliance) of storage rings, in the early 1990s, one of the present authors (DE) and others recognised that this could be achieved by incorporating a higher number of bends into the achromats. Such a multi-bend achromat (MBA) guides electrons around corners more smoothly, therefore decreasing the degradation in horizontal emittance. A few synchrotrons already employ triple-bend achromats, and the design has also been used in several particle-physics machines, including PETRA at DESY, PEP at SLAC and LEP at CERN, proving that a storage ring with an energy of a few GeV produces a very low emittance.

    DESY Petra III interior
    DESY Petra III

    PEP II at SLAC. http://www.sciencephoto.com/media/613/view


    To avoid prohibitively large machines, however, the MBA demands much smaller magnets than are currently employed at third-generation synchrotrons.

    In 1995, our calculations showed that a seven-bend achromat could yield an emittance of 0.4 nm rad for a 400 m-circumference machine – 10 times lower than the ESRF’s value at the time. The accelerator community also considered a six-bend achromat for the Swiss Light Source and a five-bend achromat for a Canadian light source, but the small number of achromats in these lattices meant that it was difficult to make significant progress towards a diffraction-limited source. One of us (ME) took the seven-bend achromat idea and turned it into a real engineering proposal for the design of MAX IV. But the design then went through a number of evolutions. In 2002, the first layout of a potential new source was presented: a 277 m-circumference, seven-bend lattice that would reach an emittance of 1 nm rad for a 3 GeV electron beam. By 2008, we had settled on an improved design: a 520 m-circumference, seven-bend lattice with an emittance of 0.31 nm rad, which will be reduced by a factor of two once the storage ring is fully equipped with undulators. This is more or less the design of the final MAX IV storage ring.

    In total, the team at Maxlab spent almost a decade finding ways to keep the lattice circumference at a value that was financially realistic, and even constructed a 36 m-circumference storage ring called MAX III to develop the necessary compact magnet technology. There were tens of problems that we had to overcome. Also, because the electron density was so high, we had to elongate the electron bunches by a factor of four by using a second radio-frequency (RF) cavity system.

    Block concept

    MAX IV stands out in that it contains two storage rings operated at an energy of 1.5 and 3 GeV. Due to the different energies of each, and because the rings share an injector and other infrastructure, high-quality undulator radiation can be produced over a wide spectral range with a marginal additional cost. The storage rings are fed electrons by a 3 GeV S-band linac made up of 18 accelerator units, each comprising one SLAC Energy Doubler RF station. To optimise the economy over a potential three-decade-long operation lifetime, and also to favour redundancy, a low accelerating gradient is used.

    The 1.5 GeV ring at MAX IV consists of 12 DBAs, each comprising one solid-steel block that houses all the DBA magnets (bends and lenses). The idea of the magnet-block concept, which is also used in the 3 GeV ring, has several advantages. First, it enables the magnets to be machined with high precision and be aligned with a tolerance of less than 10 μm without having to invest in aligning laboratories. Second, blocks with a handful of individual magnets come wired and plumbed direct from the delivering company, and no special girders are needed because the magnet blocks are rigidly self-supporting. Last, the magnet-block concept is a low-cost solution.

    We also needed to build a different vacuum system, because the small vacuum tube dimensions (2 cm in diameter) yield a very poor vacuum conductance. Rather than try to implement closely spaced pumps in such a compact geometry, our solution was to build 100% NEG-coated vacuum systems in the achromats. NEG (non-evaporable getter) technology, which was pioneered at CERN and other laboratories, uses metallic surface sorption to achieve extreme vacuum conditions. The construction of the MAX IV vacuum system raised some interesting challenges, but fortunately CERN had already developed the NEG coating technology to perfection. We therefore entered a collaboration that saw CERN coat the most intricate parts of the system, and licences were granted to companies who manufactured the bulk of the vacuum system. Later, vacuum specialists from the Budker Institute in Novosibirsk, Russia, mounted the linac and 3 GeV-ring vacuum systems.

    Due to the small beam size and high beam current, intra beam scattering and “Touschek” lifetime effects must also be addressed. Both are due to a high electron density at small-emittance/high-current rings in which electrons are brought into collisions with themselves. Large energy changes among the electrons bring some of them outside of the energy acceptance of the ring, while smaller energy deviations cause the beam size to increase too much. For these reasons, a low-frequency (100 MHz) RF system with bunch-elongating harmonic cavities was introduced to decrease the electron density and stabilise the beam. This RF system also allows powerful commercial solid-state FM-transmitters to be used as RF sources.

    When we first presented the plans for the radical MAX IV storage ring in around 2005, people working at other light sources thought we were crazy. The new lattice promised a factor of 10–100 increase in brightness over existing facilities at the time, offering users unprecedented spatial resolutions and taking storage rings within reach of the diffraction limit. Construction of MAX IV began in 2010 and commissioning began in August 2014, with regular user operation scheduled for early 2017.

    On 25 August 2015, an amazed accelerator staff sat looking at the beam-position monitor read-outs at MAX IV’s 3 GeV ring. With just the calculated magnetic settings plugged in, and the precisely CNC-machined magnet blocks, each containing a handful of integrated magnets, the beam went around turn after turn with proper behaviour. For the 3 GeV ring, a number of problems remained to be solved. These included dynamic issues – such as betatron tunes, dispersion, chromaticity and emittance – in addition to more trivial technical problems such as sparking RF cavities and faulty power supplies.

    As of MAX IV’s inauguration on 21 June, the injector linac and the 3 GeV ring are operational, with the linac also delivering X-rays to the Short Pulse Facility. A circulating current of 180 mA can be stored in the 3 GeV ring with a lifetime of around 10 h, and we have verified the design emittance with a value in the region of 300 pm rad. Beamline commissioning is also well under way, with some 14 beamlines under construction and a goal to increase that number to more than 20.

    Sweden has a well-established synchrotron-radiation user community, although around half of MAX IV users will come from other countries. A variety of disciplines and techniques are represented nationally, which must be mirrored by MAX IV’s beamline portfolio. Detailed discussions between universities, industry and the MAX IV laboratory therefore take place prior to any major beamline decisions. The high brilliance of the MAX IV 3 GeV ring and the temporal characteristics of the Short Pulse Facility are a prerequisite for the most advanced beamlines, with imaging being one promising application.

    Towards the diffraction limit

    MAX IV could not have reached its goals without a dedicated staff and help from other institutes. As CERN has helped us with the intricate NEG-coated vacuum system, and the Budker Institute with the installation of the linac and ring vacuum systems, the brand new Solaris light source in Krakow, Poland (which is an exact copy of the MAX IV 1.5 GeV ring) has helped with operations, and many other labs have offered advice. The MAX IV facility has also been marked out for its environmental credentials: its energy consumption is reduced by the use of high-efficiency RF amplifiers and small magnets that have a low power consumption. Even the water-cooling system of MAX IV transfers heat energy to the nearby city of Lund to warm houses.

    The MAX IV ring is the first of the MBA kind, but several MBA rings are now in construction at other facilities, including the ESRF, Sirius in Brazil and the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory [ANL] in the US.


    The ESRF is developing a hybrid MBA lattice that would enter operation in 2019 and achieve a horizontal emittance of 0.15 nm rad. The APS has decided to pursue a similar design that could enter operation by the end of the decade and, being larger than the ESRF, the APS can strive for an even lower emittance of around 0.07 nm rad. Meanwhile, the ALS in California is moving towards a conceptual design report, and Spring-8 in Japan is pursuing a hybrid MBA that will enter operation on a similar timescale.

    Indeed, a total of some 10 rings are currently in construction or planned. We can therefore look forward to a new generation of synchrotron storage rings with very high transverse-coherent X-rays. We will then have witnessed an increase of 13–14 orders of magnitude in the brightness of synchrotron X-ray sources in a period of seven decades, and put the diffraction limit at high X-ray energies firmly within reach.

    One proposal would see such a diffraction-limited X-ray source installed in the 6.3 km-circumference tunnel that once housed the Tevatron collider at Fermilab, Chicago. Perhaps a more plausible scenario is PETRA IV at DESY in Hamburg, Germany. Currently the PETRA III ring is one of the brightest in the world, but this upgrade (if it is funded) could result in a 0.007 nm rad (7 pm rad) emittance or even lower. Storage rings will then have reached the diffraction limit at an X-ray wavelength of 1 Å. This is the Holy Grail of X-ray science, providing the highest resolution and signal-to-noise ratio possible, in addition to the lowest-radiation damage and the fastest data collection. Such an X-ray microscope will allow the study of ultrafast chemical reactions and other processes, taking us to the next chapter in synchrotron X-ray science.

    Further reading

    E Al-Dmour et al. 2014 J. Synchrotron Rad. 21 878.
    D Einfeld et al. 1995 Proceedings: PAC p177.
    M Eriksson et al. 2008 NIM-A 587 221.
    M Eriksson et al. 2016 IPAC 2016, MOYAA01, Busan, Korea.
    MAX IV Detailed Design Report http://www.maxlab.lu.se/maxlab/max4/index.html.

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  • richardmitnick 2:40 pm on August 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , X-ray Technology   

    From BNL: “Slicing Through Materials with a New X-ray Imaging Technique” 

    Brookhaven Lab

    August 12, 2016
    Chelsea Whyte,
    (631) 344-8671

    Peter Genzer,
    (631) 344-3174

    Images reveal battery materials’ chemical reactions in five dimensions – 3D space plus time and energy

    The chemical phase within the battery evolves as the charging time increases. The cut-away views reveal a change from anisotropic to isotropic phase boundary motion. No image credit

    Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have created a new imaging technique that allows scientists to probe the internal makeup of a battery during charging and discharging using different x-ray energies while rotating the battery cell. The technique produces a three-dimensional chemical map and lets the scientists track chemical reactions in the battery over time in working conditions. Their work is published in the August 12 issue of Nature Communications.

    Getting an accurate image of the activity inside a battery as it charges and discharges is a difficult task. Often even x-ray images don’t provide researchers with enough information about the internal chemical changes in a battery material because two-dimensional images can’t separate out one layer from the next. Imagine taking an x-ray image of a multi-story office building from above. You’d see desks and chairs on top of one another, several floors of office spaces blending into one picture. But it would be difficult to know the exact layout of any one floor, let alone to track where one person moved throughout the day.

    Getting an accurate image of the activity inside a battery as it charges and discharges is a difficult task. Often even x-ray images don’t provide researchers with enough information about the internal chemical changes in a battery material because two-dimensional images can’t separate out one layer from the next. Imagine taking an x-ray image of a multi-story office building from above. You’d see desks and chairs on top of one another, several floors of office spaces blending into one picture. But it would be difficult to know the exact layout of any one floor, let alone to track where one person moved throughout the day.

    “It’s very challenging to carry out in-depth study of in situ energy materials, which requires accurately tracking chemical phase evolution in 3D and correlating it to electrochemical performance,” said Jun Wang, a physicist at the National Synchrotron Light Source II, who led the research.

    Using a working lithium-ion battery, Wang and her team tracked the phase evolution of the lithium iron phosphate within the electrode as the battery charged. They combined tomography (a kind of x-ray imaging technique that displays the 3D structure of an object) with X-ray Absorption Near Edge Structure (XANES) spectroscopy (which is sensitive to chemical and local electronic changes). The result was a “five dimensional” image of the battery operating: a full three-dimensional image over time and at different x-ray energies.

    To make this chemical map in 3D, they scanned the battery cell at a range of energies that included the “x-ray absorption edge” of the element of interest inside the electrode, rotating the sample a full 180 degrees at each x-ray energy, and repeating this procedure at different stages as the battery was charging. With this method, each three-dimensional pixel—called a voxel—produces a spectrum that is like a chemical-specific “fingerprint” that identifies the chemical and its oxidation state in the position represented by that voxel. Fitting together the fingerprints for all voxels generates a chemical map in 3D.

    The scientists found that, during charging, the lithium iron phosphate transforms into iron phosphate, but not at the same rate throughout the battery. When the battery is in the early stage of charging, this chemical evolution occurs in only certain directions. But as the battery becomes more highly charged, the evolution proceeds in all directions over the entire material.

    “Were these images to have been taken with a standard two-dimensional method, we wouldn’t have been able to see these changes,” Wang said.

    “Our unprecedented ability to directly observe how the phase transformation happens in 3D reveals accurately if there is a new or intermediate phase during the phase transformation process. This method gives us precise insight into what is happening inside the battery electrode and clarifies previous ambiguities about the mechanism of phase transformation,” Wang said.

    Wang said modeling will help the team explore the way the spread of the phase change occurs and how the strain on the materials affects this process.

    This work was completed at the now-closed National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), which housed a transmission x-ray microscope (TXM) developed by Wang using DOE funds made available through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This TXM instrument will be relocated to Brookhaven’s new light source, NSLS-II, which produces x-rays 10,000 times brighter than its predecessor. Both NSLS and NSLS-II are DOE Office of Science User Facilities.

    “At NSLS-II, this work can be done incredibly efficiently,” she said. “The stability of the beam lends itself to good tomography, and the flux is so high that we can take images more quickly and catch even faster reactions.”

    This work was supported by the DOE Office of Science.

    See the full article here .

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    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.

  • richardmitnick 9:21 pm on August 9, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , X-ray Technology   

    From SLAC: “Perfection in Sight: SLAC Receives New Mirrors for X-ray Laser” 

    SLAC Lab

    August 1, 2016

    The Mirrors Only Differ by One Atom in Flatness From End to End

    SLAC engineer Corey Hardin inspects one of the newly-arrived mirrors in a clean room facility. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    May Ling Ng, SLAC engineer, makes adjustments to the mirror restraints during a test of the holding system’s effect on mirror shape. These measurements are needed to maintain the flatness of the mirror within one atom over the entire one-meter length. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    Scientists are installing new mirrors to improve the quality of the X-ray laser beam at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

    The meter-long mirrors are the ultimate in flatness, smooth to within the height of one atom or one-fifth of a nanometer.

    If Earth had the same surface, the hills and valleys would only vary by the width of a pencil, says Daniele Cocco, engineering physicist and head of the optics group at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

    SLAC LCLS Inside

    Right now, the mirrors are stored in a clean room to avoid dust and prevent damage. Cocco and other engineers only handle the mirrors while wearing gowns, hairnets, masks and gloves. They’re testing the mirrors to see how they will respond to heat and mechanical stress while the beam is running. Both cause tiny deformations on the surface, and even changes as small as half a nanometer can cause big problems.

    Five of these mirrors will be installed in LCLS by the beginning of next year and available for experiments in summer 2017. The new arrivals will join the 12 flat and curved mirrors that currently steer and focus light at LCLS, which is almost one mile long. Eventually, the upgraded mirror system will have a total of 28 mirrors.

    This is the first time the mirrors have been replaced at LCLS. The original mirrors were installed in 2009, when the free-electron laser came online.

    As the laser strikes the mirrors, some degradation of the reflective surface occurs over time. Since the originals were built, there have been improvements in how the mirrors are made, and engineers also better understand how the mirrors can be tailored to the LCLS beam.

    When light hits the reflective surfaces, the photons slant toward a specific point. The X-rays are shaped to the need of the experiment, from a focal spot less than a micron in diameter to as wide as a few millimeters. The beam quality also must be preserved in order to reveal the state of molecules and atoms during a range of processes that occur in biology, chemistry, materials science, and energy.

    “Time is lost when a beam isn’t perfectly uniform, and you’re not able to find the perfect spot on the sample,” Cocco says. “With mirrors this precise, it’s much easier.”

    A Japanese optics company, JTEC Corporation, fabricates the mirrors for synchrotrons and other X-ray laser research facilities such as Japan’s Spring-8 Angstrom Compact Free-Electron Laser (SACLA) and the European X-ray Free-Electron Laser (EXFEL), located in Hamburg, Germany and due to come online in 2017.

    Each mirror is made from an individual silicon crystal, artificially grown in a lab. After the mirror is polished with conventional techniques, the company uses a process called elastic emission machining, where a jet of ultra-pure water containing fine particles removes any remaining imperfections atom by atom.

    Blemishes in the mirror can create imperfections in the X-ray beam.

    “These latest mirrors preserve the beam quality within 97 percent, and the manufacturing technology is continuing to get better,” Cocco says.

    With a coherent laser beam, such as the one at LCLS, photons traveling at fixed wavelengths have a specific relationship to each other.

    “It’s not random. The light propagates as a perfect wave,” Cocco says. “Even minimal bumps alter the properties of the beam, irreversibly destroying the perfection of the wavefront.”

    The light beam also travels over a long distance, which means any disruption can amplify.

    Two of the mirrors will be installed adjacent to the front end of the undulator hall at LCLS. The other three will be located 200 meters further down the beam line, in the X-ray transport tunnel between the near and far halls.

    The mirrors will also be able to handle the higher energy range of LCLS-II, the next generation of SLAC’s X-ray laser.

    SLAC LSLS II new
    SLAC/LCLS-II work at LBL

    SLAC/LCLS-II work at FNAL

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 7:57 pm on August 4, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , X-ray Technology   

    From SLAC: “Stanford-led team reveals nanoscale secrets of rechargeable batteries” 

    SLAC Lab

    August 4, 2016
    Andrew Myers

    Artist’s rendition shows lithium-ion battery particles under the illumination of a finely focused X-ray beam. (Image credit: Courtesy Chueh Lab)

    An interdisciplinary team has developed a way to track how particles charge and discharge at the nanoscale, an advance that will lead to better batteries for all sorts of mobile applications.

    Better batteries that charge quickly and last a long time are a brass ring for engineers. But despite decades of research and innovation, a fundamental understanding of exactly how batteries work at the smallest of scales has remained elusive.

    In a paper published this week in the journal Science, a team led by William Chueh, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford and a faculty scientist at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, has devised a way to peer as never before into the electrochemical reaction that fuels the most common rechargeable cell in use today: the lithium-ion battery.

    By visualizing the fundamental building blocks of batteries – small particles typically measuring less than 1/100th of a human hair in size – the team members have illuminated a process that is far more complex than once thought. Both the method they developed to observe the battery in real time and their improved understanding of the electrochemistry could have far-reaching implications for battery design, management and beyond.

    “It gives us fundamental insights into how batteries work,” said Jongwoo Lim, a co-lead author of the paper and post-doctoral researcher at the Stanford Institute for Materials & Energy Sciences at SLAC. “Previously, most studies investigated the average behavior of the whole battery. Now, we can see and understand how individual battery particles charge and discharge.”

    The heart of a battery

    At the heart of every lithium-ion battery is a simple chemical reaction in which positively charged lithium ions nestle in the lattice-like structure of a crystal electrode as the battery is discharging, receiving negatively charged electrons in the process. In reversing the reaction by removing electrons, the ions are freed and the battery is charged.

    An interdisciplinary research team has developed a new way to track how battery particles charge and discharge. Greatly magnified nanoscale particles are shown here charging (red to green) and discharging (green to red). The animation shows regions of faster and slower charge. (Image credit: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    These basic processes – known as lithiation (discharge) and delithiation (charge) – are hampered by an electrochemical Achilles heel. Rarely do the ions insert uniformly across the surface of the particles. Instead, certain areas take on more ions, and others fewer. These inconsistencies eventually lead to mechanical stress as areas of the crystal lattice become overburdened with ions and develop tiny fractures, sapping battery performance and shortening battery life.

    “Lithiation and delithiation should be homogenous and uniform,” said Yiyang Li, a doctoral candidate in Chueh’s lab and co-lead author of the paper. “In reality, however, they’re very non-uniform. In our better understanding of the process, this paper lays out a path toward suppressing the phenomenon.”

    For researchers hoping to improve batteries, like Chueh and his team, counteracting these detrimental forces could lead to batteries that charge faster and more fully, lasting much longer than today’s models.

    This study visualizes the charge/discharge reaction in real-time – something scientists refer to as operando – at fine detail and scale. The team utilized brilliant X-rays and cutting-edge microscopes at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Advanced Light Source.

    LBL ALS interior

    “The phenomenon revealed by this technique, I thought would never be visualized in my lifetime. It’s quite game-changing in the battery field,” said Martin Bazant, a professor of chemical engineering and of mathematics at MIT who led the theoretical aspect of the study.

    Chueh and his team fashioned a transparent battery using the same active materials as ones found in smartphones and electric vehicles. It was designed and fabricated in collaboration with Hummingbird Scientific. It consists of two very thin, transparent silicon nitride “windows.” The battery electrode, made of a single layer of lithium iron phosphate nanoparticles, sits on the membrane inside the gap between the two windows. A salty fluid, known as an electrolyte, flows in the gap to deliver the lithium ions to the nanoparticles.

    “This was a very, very small battery, holding ten billion times less charge than a smartphone battery,” Chueh said. “But it allows us a clear view of what’s happening at the nanoscale.”

    Significant advances

    In their study, the researchers discovered that the charging process (delithiation) is significantly less uniform than discharge (lithiation). Intriguingly, the researchers also found that faster charging improves uniformity, which could lead to new and better battery designs and power management strategies.

    “The improved uniformity lowers the damaging mechanical stress on the electrodes and improves battery cyclability,” Chueh said. “Beyond batteries, this work could have far-reaching impact on many other electrochemical materials.” He pointed to catalysts, memory devices, and so-called smart glass, which transitions from translucent to transparent when electrically charged.

    In addition to the scientific knowledge gained, the other significant advancement from the study is the X-ray microscopy technique itself, which was developed in collaboration with Berkeley Lab Advanced Light Source scientists Young-sang Yu, David Shapiro, and Tolek Tyliszczak. The microscope, which is housed at the Advanced Light Source, could affect energy research across the board by revealing never-before-seen dynamics at the nanoscale.

    “What we’ve learned here is not just how to make a better battery, but offers us a profound new window on the science of electrochemical reactions at the nanoscale,” Bazant said.

    Funding for this work was provided in part by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, and by the Ford-Stanford Alliance. Bazant was a visiting professor at Stanford and was supported by the Global Climate and Energy Project.

    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 10:06 am on July 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Electron injector for European XFEL exceeds expectations, , X-ray Technology   

    From XFEL: “Electron injector for European XFEL exceeds expectations” 

    XFEL bloc

    European XFEL

    25 July 2016
    No writer credit found

    First accelerator section successfully tested

    DESY has successfully concluded tests of the first section of the particle accelerator for the European XFEL. The so-called electron injector, which is 30 metres long, performed distinctly better than expected. The injector already completed a whole week under operating conditions. “Having gathered much valuable experience, we are now all set to start up the entire accelerator complex”, reports Winfried Decking, the machine coordinator at DESY. “This is a huge success for the entire accelerator team, together with our international partners.”

    The diagnostic system produces elongated images of individual electron bunches and allows to analyse them in slices. DESY

    The bright X-ray light of the European XFEL is produced by small bunches of high-energy electrons which are brought to speed by a particle accelerator and then sent down an undulating magnetic path. At each magnetic bend in the path, the electron nunches emit X-rays which add up to a laser-like pulse in a self-amplifying manner.

    DESY is the main shareholder of the European XFEL GmbH and responsible, among other things, for building and operating the 2.1-kilometre particle accelerator. The injector is located at the very beginning of the accelerator to which it supplies tailor-made bunches of electrons. The quality of these electron bunches is crucial to the quality of the X-ray laser pulses at the experimental stations, 3.4 kilometres away. One important quality criterion is how narrowly the electron bunches can be focused. “This so-called emittance is some 40 percent better than specified”, reports Decking.

    The injector is 30 metres long. Dirk Nölle / DESY

    Ten times every second, the injector produces a train of up to 2700 short bunches of electrons. To test the quality of the beam, a special diagnostic system picks out individual bunches. “We need only about four bunches per train to analyse the beam”, explains Decking. These bunches are tilted by a cavity before striking the diagnostic screen. The elongated image they leave behind as a result can be used to study the longitudinal structure of each bunch in detail. The analysis reveals the outstanding quality of the bunches.

    In the past seven months, the injector, which produced its first electron beam in December, has given the accelerator team an opportunity to get to know all major subsystems of the entire accelerator facility: “The injector includes all the subsystems that are used in the main accelerator too”, says Decking. “This meant we were able to test and familiarise ourselves with them.” All in all, he says, no major obstacles were encountered throughout the several months of its test operation. The injector went offline on Monday, so that it can be connected to the main accelerator, for which commissioning is planned to start in October 2016. The whole facility is expected to be available for experiments as from the summer of 2017.

    View of DESY’s accelerator control centre, European XFEL section. Dirk Nölle / DESY

    Apart from DESY and European XFEL GmbH, the Centre national de la recherche scientifique CNRS in Orsay (France), the Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives CEA in Saclay (France), the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare INFN in Milan (Italy), the Narodowe Centrum Badań Jądrowych in Swierk (Poland), the Wrocław University of Technology WUT in Wrocław (Poland), the Instytut Fizyki Jądrowej IFJ-PAN in Krakow (Poland), the Institute for High-Energy Physics in Protvino (Russia), the Efremov Institute NIIEFA in St. Petersburg (Russia), the Budker Institute for Nuclear Physics BINP in Novosibirsk (Russia), the Institute for Nuclear Research INR in Moscow (Russia), the Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas CIEMAT in Madrid (Spain), the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid UPM in Madrid (Spain), the University of Stockholm (Sweden), the University of Uppsala (Sweden), and the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen (Switzerland) are also involved in the injector.

    See the full article here .

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    The Hamburg area will soon boast a research facility of superlatives: The European XFEL will generate ultrashort X-ray flashes—27 000 times per second and with a brilliance that is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray radiation sources.

    The outstanding characteristics of the facility are unique worldwide. Starting in 2017, it will open up completely new research opportunities for scientists and industrial users.

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