Since 2009, SLAC scientist John Bargar has led a team using synchrotron-based X-ray techniques to study bacteria that help clean uranium from groundwater in a process called bioremediation. Their initial goal was to discover how the bacteria do it and determine the best way to help, but during the course of their research the team made an even more important discovery: Nature thinks bigger than that.
In less than a decade, SLAC has built up an impressive array of dozens of laser systems – and a team of laser scientists and engineers – with capabilities that make it one of the most cutting-edge national laboratories under the U.S. Department of Energy.
Lighting the way
With SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray laser, timing is everything. Its pulses are designed to explore atomic-scale processes that are measured in femtoseconds, or quadrillionths of a second. Determining the instant in time at which the laser strikes a sample, either by itself or in concert with another laser pulse, can be vital to the success of an experiment.
SLAC played host to the regional Science Bowl last weekend, with a record 150 high-school students from 30 teams answering tough science questions in the hope of winning the top prize – a trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national Department of Energy Science Bowl April 25 to 29.
A material that could enable faster memory chips and more efficient batteries can switch between high and low ionic conductivity states much faster than previously thought, SLAC and Stanford researchers have determined. The key is to use extremely small chunks of it.
Daniel DePonte, a pioneer in finding ways to serve up a steady and precise supply of crystals, viruses and other precious samples for laser experiments, is the newly hired sample-delivery group leader for SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray laser.