SLAC Today is available online at:

In this issue:
People: Steve Durbin's Speedy Detector
SLAC–PNNL Scientific Computing Seminars—Building Collaboration
Alpine Gate Closed February 26–27
Take the Linear Café Survey: Free Cookie Offer

SLAC Today

Wednesday - February 25, 2009

People: Steve Durbin's Speedy Detector

X-ray physicist Steve Durbin at SSRL. (Photo by Lauren Schenkman. Click for larger image.)

Synchrotron physicists are missing important scenes from their favorite film—the lives of atoms. "In every physicist's imagination you have this mental picture of how things move, like you're watching a movie," said Purdue University X-ray scientist Steve Durbin. Durbin is spending a six-month sabbatical at SLAC and Stanford's PULSE Institute for Ultrafast Energy Science. He's developing ideas for detectors that could make imaging methods at synchrotron sources a hundred times faster.

To make an atomic movie, you'd need to snap each frame with a shutter speed of at least a trillionth of a second, or picosecond. With that time resolution it would be possible to watch the energy of an incoming photon excite the electrons and then transfer to the atoms of a system, for example, causing movement that leads to a molecule breaking up or forming. But so far, such movies have existed only in physicists' imaginations.

"That timeframe has been totally inaccessible to the vast majority of X-ray synchrotron experiments in the past," Durbin said. "Most X-ray beams come out of a synchrotron in pulses of 100 picoseconds, which to a layman sounds incredibly fast, but this is still 100 times too slow to get to these fundamental atomic lifetimes." Even in the seemingly lightning-fast pulse from a synchrotron, the fine details of these electronic dynamics are blurred.  Read more...

SLAC–PNNL Scientific Computing Seminars—Building Collaboration

SLAC and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have broadly complementary science programs and a common interest in finding the optimum role of computing in advancing these programs. Last fall, after several years of informal contacts between PNNL computational sciences and SLAC Scientific Computing and Computing Services, the two lab managements agreed to support a seminar series aimed at identifying where the SLAC and PNNL science programs would benefit from collaboration on computing.

This year three seminars will take place at SLAC. PNNL scientists and computer scientists will present major elements of their science program and the corresponding computing challenges over the course of an afternoon. Further discussions aimed at identifying opportunities for collaboration will take place on the following day.  Read more...

Alpine Gate Closed February 26–27

SLAC's Alpine Gate will be closed to traffic this Thursday and Friday, February 26–27. Approximately 110 truckloads of rock from the Linac Coherent Light Source site will be hauled offsite via the gate, which will close to all other traffic for safety reasons.

Take the Linear Café Survey: Free Cookie Offer

(Photo - cookie)

The management of SLAC's Linear Café, the Epicurean Group, would like to hear your opinion, in an online survey about their food and services—and what you'd like to see offered in the future. Even if you are not a regular customer, the Epicurean Group encourages your participation. As a special "thank you" for answering a few short questions, you will receive a coupon for a free fresh-baked cookie. This survey takes about two minutes.


Access (see all)

(see all | submit)

 Lab Announcements

Community Bulletin Board

Training (see all | register)

News (submit)

dividing line
(Office of Science/U.S. DOE Logo)

View online at