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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.