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Backstory: Marc Messerschmidt, Staff Scientist

Marc Messerschmidt, a staff scientist at the Coherent X-ray Imaging (CXI) experimental station at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray laser, describes his daily work, which is far from routine.

Copper Shock: An Atomic-scale Stress Test

Scientists used the powerful X-ray laser at the U.S. Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to create movies detailing trillionths-of-a-second changes in the arrangement of copper atoms after an extreme shock.

SLAC Scientists Create Twisted Light

Scientists at SLAC have found a new method to create coherent beams of twisted light – light that spirals around a central axis as it travels. It has the potential to generate twisted light in shorter pulses, higher intensities and a much wider range of wavelengths, including X-rays, than is currently possible.

SLAC Physicist Receives Free-electron Laser Award

Dao Xiang, a SLAC accelerator physicist, has received an international award for his work on a technique for tuning an electron beam with a laser to produce X-ray pulses with more uniform and predictable properties.

Ribosome Research Takes Shape at SLAC

In a new state-of-the-art lab at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, components of ribosomes – tiny biological machines that make new proteins and play a vital role in gene expression and antibiotic treatments – form crystals in a liquid solution.

Signs at the lab's entryway warn of the potential for contamination – these delicate samples can be damaged by human touch, a sneeze or a dust particle.

Rapid Beam-switching Allows SLAC X-ray Laser to Multitask

A high-energy SLAC laser that creates shock waves and superhot plasmas needs to cool for about 10 minutes between shots. In the meantime, the rapid-fire pulses produced by SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray laser, which probes the extreme states of matter produced by this initial laser shot, are unused.

Speed Limit Set for Ultrafast Electrical Switch

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have clocked the fastest-possible electrical switching in magnetite, a naturally magnetic mineral. Their results could drive innovations in the tiny transistors that control the flow of electricity across silicon chips, enabling faster, more powerful computing devices.

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