Lecture Details

SLAC public Lecture Series

Past Lecture

Magnetic Movies: Watching Memory Bits Dance

Bill Schlotter , SLAC
Tuesday, May 22, 2012 07:30 pm
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Movies allow us to experience and understand worlds we may never be able to visit. During this presentation Bill Schlotter will explain how to make movies of magnetic storage bits, which reside in our laptops and internet data centers and contain the world of information. Since these nanoscale bits switch from 0 to 1 and back again in millionths of a nanosecond, recording their activity requires the fastest movies ever made. We make these movies with ultrashort pulses of X-rays generated by the world's first hard X-ray laser at SLAC. Understanding what happens in magnetic storage devices becomes increasingly urgent as our appetite for smaller, faster mobile devices pushes the physics of data storage to its limits. Beyond magnetism, these movie-making capabilities will help us visit other important ultrafast scientific processes, such as solar energy conversion and chemical reactions.


Bill Schlotter is an instrument scientist working on the Soft X-ray (SXR) beamline at the Linac Coherent Light Source, SLAC's X-ray free electron laser. The SXR beamline can provide intense, ultra-short soft X-ray pulses using a broad range of experimental tools such as X-ray emission, coherent imaging, resonant scattering, photoelectron spectroscopy and X-ray absorption spectroscopy. The science that can be performed at SXR covers an array of fields such as catalysis, magnetism, correlated materials, clusters and biological structures, all of which he supports in his role as instrument scientist, but Bill himself is especially interested in the dynamics of electrons in solids on ultrafast time scales. In particular he wants to understand the electronic response of these materials to ultra-short and intense pulses of X-ray and optical radiation. Bill augmented undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan with summer research positions at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Ford Motor Company, then continued his education at Stanford University, where he graduated with a doctorate in Applied Physics in 2007. During his time at Stanford he developed a lensless holographic technique for taking microscopic images with coherent X-rays. He followed that with postdoctoral work at the University of Hamburg, where he commissioned an X-ray pulse delay line system at the FLASH facility at DESY.