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In this issue:
High-pressure Compound Could Be Key to Hydrogen-powered Vehicles
Reminder: LCLS Proposal Deadline This Friday
Welcome New SLACers!
Colloquium Today: The Compact Light Source
Around SLAC: Great Horned Owls Nesting at End Station B

SLAC Today

Monday - May 11, 2009

High-pressure Compound Could Be Key to Hydrogen-powered Vehicles

Hydrogen-powered cars sound like a great idea, but how do you stuff enough hydrogen into a small, portable volume that's practical as fuel? Help could be on the way in the form of a hydrogen-rich compound discovered by researchers in the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Science at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

The newly discovered material is a high-pressure form of ammonia borane, a solid material which itself is already imbued with ample hydrogen. By working with the parent material at high pressure in an atmosphere artificially enriched with hydrogen, the scientists were able to ratchet up the hydrogen content of the material by roughly 50 percent.

"Including the hydrogen already stored in ammonia borane, this new material can store around 30 weight percent in total," said SIMES researcher Yu Lin, lead author of a paper describing the work that was published last week in the online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Department of Energy has set a target for hydrogen-powered vehicles to have an on-board storage system able to hold 9 percent, by weight, of hydrogen, by 2015. The new compound, called ammonia borane-hydrogen, contains more than triple that amount.  Read more...

Reminder: LCLS Proposal Deadline This Friday

Proposals are due this Friday, May 15, for scientific experiments with soft X-rays using the Linac Coherent Light Source's Atomic, Molecular and Optical and Soft X-ray Materials Science instruments during March–July 2010. For details and contact information, please see the Second LCLS Call for Proposals.

Welcome New SLACers!

(Photo - SLAC new employee orientation May 2009)
(Photo by Doug Kreitz.)

New SLAC staff attending the New Employee Orientation last Thursday, May 7 included:

Back row, from left: Michael Ramos, Muhammed Hossain, Bruce Hill, Bryan Fulsom, Greg W. Johnson, Carlos Rodrigues, Philip Pines

Front row, from left: Jiquan Guo, Norman Picker, Jr., Chang-Ming Tsai, Kenneth Leung

Welcome to SLAC!

Colloquium Today: The Compact Light Source

(Image - SLAC Colloquium banner)

Today at 4:15 p.m. in Panofsky Auditorium, SLAC physicist Ron Ruth will present "The Compact Light Source: Its Beginning, Development and Recent Experiments."

Past research at SLAC introduced a new X-ray source concept, a miniature synchrotron light source. This early research led later to the formation of a corporation, Lyncean Technologies, to develop the Compact Light Source. The prototype development of the CLS is nearing completion now. The CLS is a near-monochromatic, tunable, homelab-size, hard X-ray source with beamlines that can be used like the X-ray beamlines at the synchrotrons—but it is about 200 times smaller than a synchrotron light source. Ruth's presentation will discuss the beginnings of Lyncean and the CLS ideas, and then introduce the basic principles, design and testing of the Compact Light Source. 

The colloquium is free and open to all. See the SLAC Colloquium Web site for more details.

Next Monday, Stanford physicist Hari Manoharan will discuss low-temperature scanning probe microscopy.

Around SLAC:
Great Horned Owls Nesting at End Station B

(Photo - owls nesting on SLAC End Station B)
(Photo by Brad Plummer.)

Want to see a couple of two-foot-tall birds with bright yellow eyes, feathery ear tufts and five-foot wingspans? Then head over to End Station B, where Great Horned Owls are nesting on a concrete ledge about 50 feet up.

You should get over there soon, because the owls might not be around much longer. Great Horned Owls usually breed in late January or early February, laying two to four eggs in a nest appropriated from another large bird, such as a raven or red-tailed hawk. The eggs hatch after four or five weeks, and the young are strong fliers ten weeks later—which means the birds could be making travel plans any day now.

Two owls have been spotted at the nest, one a bit larger than the other. They could be the mother and father—males are smaller than females—or an adult and a chick that's almost grown up. Bring binoculars for a good look.

(Photo - owls nesting on SLAC End Station B)
(Photo by Brad Plummer.)

This is not the first time Great Horned Owls have nested at End Station B. In 2006, a pair raised two chicks there, in what might be the same spot.

Great Horned Owls are found throughout the Americas, from Alaska south to Argentina. They eat a range of animals, from insects to turkeys, but they prefer mammals such as rabbits and squirrels. They're powerful birds, capable of taking prey two to three times their own weight. And Great Horned Owls are the only animals known that regularly eat skunks.

So maybe it's a good thing they're 50 feet up that ledge, out of sniffing distance.

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