Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL)
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.
Last Saturday marked the 40th anniversary of an historic event: In 1973, a team of research pioneers extracted hard X-rays for the first time from SLAC's SPEAR accelerator. Like X-rays from an X-ray tube, the radiation generated by SPEAR can deeply penetrate a large variety of materials and probe their inner structures. However, SPEAR's X-rays are significantly more intense and unlock the possibility for brand new science.
Two SLAC-affiliated professors were recently elected members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Artie Bienenstock, professor emeritus of photon science at SLAC and member of the National Science Board, and Peter Michelson, a SLAC and Stanford astrophysicist and Stanford professor, will be inducted at a ceremony Oct. 12 at the academy's headquarters in Cambridge, Mass.
Using laser light to read and write magnetic data by quickly flipping tiny magnetic domains could help keep pace with the demand for faster computing devices.
Now experiments with SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser have given scientists their first detailed look at how light controls the first trillionth of a second of this process, known as all-optical magnetic switching.
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