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How X-Rays Helped to Solve Mystery of Floating Rocks

Experiments at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source have helped scientists to solve a mystery of why some rocks can float for years in the ocean, traveling thousands of miles before sinking.

Special X-Ray Technique Allows Scientists to See 3-D Deformations

In a new study published last Friday in Science, researchers at Argonne used an X-ray scattering technique called Bragg coherent diffraction imaging to reconstruct in 3-D the size and shape of grain defects. These defects create imperfections in the lattice of atoms inside a grain that can give rise to interesting material properties and effects.

Neptune: Neutralizer-Free Plasma Propulsion

The most established plasma propulsion concepts are gridded-ion thrusters that accelerate and emit a larger number of positively charged particles than those that are negatively charged. To enable the spacecraft to remain charge-neutral, a "neutralizer" is used to inject electrons to exactly balance the positive ion charge in the exhaust beam. However, the neutralizer requires additional power from the spacecraft and increases the size and weight of the propulsion system. Researchers are investigating how the radio-frequency self-bias effect can be used to remove the neutralizer altogether, and they report their work in this week's Physics of Plasmas.

Report Sheds New Insights on the Spin Dynamics of a Material Candidate for Low-Power Devices

In a report published in Nano LettersArgonne researchers reveal new insights into the properties of a magnetic insulator that is a candidate for low-power device applications; their insights form early stepping-stones towards developing high-speed, low-power electronics that use electron spin rather than charge to carry information.

Researchers Find Computer Code That Volkswagen Used to Cheat Emissions Tests

An international team of researchers has uncovered the mechanism that allowed Volkswagen to circumvent U.S. and European emission tests over at least six years before the Environmental Protection Agency put the company on notice in 2015 for violating the Clean Air Act. During a year-long investigation, researchers found code that allowed a car's onboard computer to determine that the vehicle was undergoing an emissions test.

Physicists Discover That Lithium Oxide on Tokamak Walls Can Improve Plasma Performance

A team of physicists has found that a coating of lithium oxide on the inside of fusion machines known as tokamaks can absorb as much deuterium as pure lithium can.

Scientists Perform First Basic Physics Simulation of Spontaneous Transition of the Edge of Fusion Plasma to Crucial High-Confinement Mode

PPPL physicists have simulated the spontaneous transition of turbulence at the edge of a fusion plasma to the high-confinement mode that sustains fusion reactions. The research was achieved with the extreme-scale plasma turbulence code XGC developed at PPPL in collaboration with a nationwide team.

Green Fleet Technology

New research at Penn State addresses the impact delivery trucks have on the environment by providing green solutions that keep costs down without sacrificing efficiency.

Scientists Demonstrate New Real-Time Technique for Studying Ionic Liquids at Electrode Interfaces

This electron microscope-based imaging technique could help scientists optimize the performance of ionic liquids for batteries and other energy storage devices.

How Scientists Turned a Flag Into a Loudspeaker

A paper-thin, flexible device created at Michigan State University not only can generate energy from human motion, it can act as a loudspeaker and microphone as well, nanotechnology researchers report in the May 16 edition of Nature Communications.


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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Graduates Urged to Embrace Change at 211th Commencement

Describing the dizzying pace of technological innovation, former United States Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz urged graduates to "anticipate career change, welcome it, and manage it to your and your society's benefit" at the 211th Commencement at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) Saturday.

ORNL Welcomes Innovation Crossroads Entrepreneurial Research Fellows

Oak Ridge National Laboratory today welcomed the first cohort of innovators to join Innovation Crossroads, the Southeast region's first entrepreneurial research and development program based at a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory.

Department of Energy Secretary Recognizes Argonne Scientists' Work to Fight Ebola, Cancer

Two groups of researchers at Argonne earned special awards from the office of the U.S. Secretary of Energy for addressing the global health challenges of Ebola and cancer.

Jefferson Science Associates, LLC Recognized for Leadership in Small Business Utilization

Jefferson Lab/Jefferson Science Associates has a long-standing commitment to doing business with and mentoring small businesses. That commitment and support received national recognition at the 16th Annual Dept. of Energy Small Business Forum and Expo held May 16-18, 2017 in Kansas City, Mo.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President's Commencement Colloquy to Address "Criticality, Incisiveness, Creativity"

To kick off the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Commencement weekend, the annual President's Commencement Colloquy will take place on Friday, May 19, beginning at 3:30 p.m. The discussion, titled "Criticality, Incisiveness, Creativity," will include the Honorable Ernest J. Moniz, former Secretary of Energy, and the Honorable Roger W. Ferguson Jr., President and CEO of TIAA, and will be moderated by Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson.

ORNL, University of Tennessee Launch New Doctoral Program in Data Science

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has approved a new doctoral program in data science and engineering as part of the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education.

SurfTec Receives $1.2 Million Energy Award to Develop Novel Coating

The Department of Energy has awarded $1.2 million to SurfTec LLC, a company affiliated with the U of A Technology Development Foundation, to continue developing a nanoparticle-based coating to replace lead-based journal bearings in the next generation of electric machines.

Ames Laboratory Scientist Inducted Into National Inventors Hall of Fame

Iver Anderson, senior metallurgist at Ames Laboratory, has been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

DOE HPC4Mfg Program Funds 13 New Projects to Improve U.S. Energy Technologies Through High Performance Computing

A U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program designed to spur the use of high performance supercomputers to advance U.S. manufacturing is funding 13 new industry projects for a total of $3.9 million.

Penn State Wind Energy Club Breezes to Victory in Collegiate Wind Competition

The Penn State Wind Energy Club breezed through the field at the U.S. Department of Energy Collegiate Wind Competition 2017 Technical Challenge, held April 20-22 at the National Wind Technology Center near Boulder, Colorado--earning its third overall victory in four years at the Collegiate Wind Competition.


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Casting a Wide Net

Designed molecules will provide positive impacts in energy production by selectively removing unwanted ions from complex solutions.

New Software Tools Streamline DNA Sequence Design-and-Build Process

Enhanced software tools will accelerate gene discovery and characterization, vital for new forms of fuel production.

The Ultrafast Interplay Between Molecules and Materials

Computer calculations by the Center for Solar Fuels, an Energy Frontier Research Center, shed light on nebulous interactions in semiconductors relevant to dye-sensitized solar cells.

Supercapacitors: WOODn't That Be Nice

Researchers at Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage, an Energy Frontier Research Center, take advantage of nature-made materials and structure for energy storage research.

Groundwater Flow Is Key for Modeling the Global Water Cycle

Water table depth and groundwater flow are vital to understanding the amount of water that plants transmit to the atmosphere.

Finding the Correct Path

A new computational technique greatly simplifies the complex reaction networks common to catalysis and combustion fields.

Opening Efficient Routes to Everyday Plastics

A new material from the Inorganometallic Catalyst Design Center, an Energy Frontier Research Center, facilitates the production of key industrial supplies.

Fight to the Top: Silver and Gold Compete for the Surface of a Bimetallic Solid

It's the classic plot of a buddy movie. Two struggling bodies team up to drive the plot and do good together. That same idea, when it comes to metals, could help scientists solve a big problem: the amount of energy consumed by making chemicals.

Saving Energy Through Light Control

New materials, designed by researchers at the Center for Excitonics, an Energy Frontier Research Center, can reduce energy consumption with the flip of a switch.

Teaching Perovskites to Swim

Scientists at the ANSER Energy Frontier Research Center designed a two-component layer protects a sunlight-harvesting device from water and heat.


Where Scientist Meets Machine: A Fresh Approach to Experimental Design at SLAC X-Ray Laser

Article ID: 673674

Released: 2017-04-26 15:05:13

Source Newsroom: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

  • Credit: Dawn Harmer/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    Paul Fuoss, the new head of experimental design at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray laser.

Big leaps in technology require big leaps in design ­– entirely new approaches that can take full advantage of everything the technology has to offer.

That’s the thinking behind a new initiative at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. To make sure experimenters can get the most out of a major X-ray laser upgrade that will produce beams that are 10,000 times brighter and pulses up to a million times per second, the lab has created a new position – head of experimental design at the Linac Coherent Light Source – and hired a world-renowned X-ray scientist to fill it.

Paul Fuoss (pronounced “foos”) will look at LCLS and the LCLS-II upgrade from a fresh perspective and work with scientists and engineers across the lab to design instruments, user-friendly control systems and experimental flows that take full advantage of this technological leap.  

Although the upgrade won’t be finished until the early 2020s, there’s really no time to lose, said LCLS Director Mike Dunne.

“We’re on the verge of a transformation of our science capabilities that is simply unattainable today. When you take these big leaps you have to fundamentally rethink how you approach the science and the design of experiments," Dunne said.

“You can’t just do it the way you did before but a bit better. You have to approach it from a completely new thought process: What is the scientific knowledge you’re trying to get out, and what is the scientific data that might illuminate that new understanding, and how does that translate back into how you obtain that data, and how does that influence how you design the facility?”

Taming Complexity to Make Science More Productive

For Fuoss, the broader goal is to increase productivity and improve the experiences of scientists at X-ray light sources everywhere.

“Experiments have gotten a lot more complex over the past 20 years, not just at LCLS but at synchrotron light sources, too,” he said. “We’ve gone from controlling experiments with a single computer and detecting a single pixel of data at a time to using multiple computers and detecting more like a million pixels at once. Our ability to integrate different tools and computers and visualize the data has often not kept up with the technology. And at LCLS, that complexity is going to increase dramatically in a few years when the LCLS-II upgrade becomes operational.”

One way to make working with LCLS more streamlined and intuitive is to incorporate user-friendly features into the instruments that come on board as part of LCLS-II.

“A lot of that will be working with the scientists and engineers who are designing those instruments to get the building blocks for user compatibility in there,” Fuoss said. “It’s not part of the core training of scientists and engineers, so we expect we will need to reach out to people who have that expertise and get them to help us.”

Another way, he said, is to create tools that let scientists visualize their data as it’s being collected, so they can understand what is going on in real time.

“There are a lot of different pieces that need to be coordinated,” Fuoss said. “All of them are currently being done, but we need to bring a unified focus and make sure there are no unnecessary barriers. Ultimately, you want to integrate this kind of thing into everyone’s day-to-day development activities.”

X-Rays, Inventions and Human Interfaces

Fuoss has deep roots at SLAC. Originally from South Dakota, where he grew up on a ranch, he earned a degree in physics at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and came to Stanford University in 1975 for graduate school. He wound up doing his graduate research at SLAC, using X-rays from what later became the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) to investigate materials.

After earning a PhD, Fuoss went on to do research at Bell Laboratories, AT&T Laboratories and Argonne National Laboratory. He’s been an active user of SSRL and other light sources and has developed a number of new techniques for exploring materials with X-rays, many of which are now standard at light sources around the world; in 2015 he received SLAC’s Farrel W. Lytle Award for this work. Fuoss also played a role in designing LCLS.

In the mid-1990s, while a researcher at AT&T Laboratories, Fuoss took a six-year detour into the world of human interface design and human factors research – the study of how people interact with technology, from airplane cockpits to your office copier. Back then, he focused on making telecommunications systems and web interfaces more user friendly. This experience can also be applied to LCLS experimental design.

“Paul has an incredible background,” Dunne said. “He brings that deep understanding of the nature of X-ray science, an understanding of all the instruments and the technical pieces, and then an understanding of what we’re trying to achieve scientifically.”

Getting the Most out of Beam Time

Unlike synchrotron light sources, which may have dozens of X-ray beamlines and many experiments going on simultaneously, the current version of LCLS has just one powerful beam, a billion times brighter than any available before, whose pulses arrive up to 120 times per second. In theory this limits the facility to doing one experiment at a time.

But in the seven years since it opened, scientists and engineers have come up with a number of ways to get around that limitation, such as splitting the beam so it can be delivered to two or more experiments at once. At the same time, they reduced the down time between experiments by scheduling similar experiments back to back, so they don’t have to change out equipment as often. These and other measures increased the number of experiments run per year by 72 percent from 2014 to 2016, and LCLS recently passed the milestone of hosting more than 1,000 users per year.

LCLS-II will add a second X-ray laser beam, further increasing the facility’s capacity. By continuing to find ways to squeeze in more experiments while making the way people interact with LCLS more straightforward, Fuoss said, “We can improve productivity and allow the scientific users to have a more hands-on role in the actual data collection. That will both reduce the load on the LCLS staff and lead to a better experience for the scientists who are coming here to use it.“

LCLS and SSRL are DOE Office of Science User Facilities.

SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, Calif., SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.