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SSRL's Hard X-rays Probe Model Fuel-Cell Catalyst
Public Lecture Tonight: Smashing Protons—First Physics at the LHC
Family Giving Tree Drive Under Way

SLAC Today

Tuesday - November 30, 2010

SSRL's Hard X-rays Probe Model
Fuel-Cell Catalyst

A beam of specially-tuned X-rays scatters off a platinum atom and into a detector, unaffected by the surrounding perchloric acid solution. (Image by Daniel Friebel.)

Researchers at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource have developed a new, more powerful way to probe the behavior of a key component in hydrogen fuel cells. The group shone SSRL's high-energy X-rays on a single-atom layer of platinum to illuminate how the metal helps the generation of electrical power inside a fuel cell. SSRL Research Associate Daniel Friebel led the work, together with Anders Nilsson of both SSRL and the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences, a joint SLAC-Stanford institute. The new experimental approach appeared online recently in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, a publication of the Royal Chemical Society.

"People have tried to use synchrotron radiation and X-ray spectroscopic techniques over many years—decades—to measure what's happening to the platinum," Nilsson said. But insufficient resolution and sensitivity made those measurements hard to interpret. "And so nobody had been able to understand exactly what they see. I think what this particular study has done is improve the understanding of what we see."  Read more...

Public Lecture Tonight:
Smashing Protons—First Physics at the LHC

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, is the largest scientific instrument ever built. For nearly a year now, researchers there have been smashing protons into each other with unprecedented energy, allowing us to peer into nature's most intimate depths. The world's largest and most complex cameras take snapshots of these collisions millions of times per second. These pictures reveal the smallest components of the universe—quarks and gluons—and, someday, perhaps the elusive Higgs boson. Why do we need to build such an enormous machine in order to study particles more than a million times smaller than a speck of dust? This lecture will explain how the LHC and its detectors work, what the pictures from the LHC are telling us now, and how we will use this technology to explore the deepest secrets of the universe.

The lecture will begin at 7:30 p.m. tonight in Panofsky Auditorium. It is free and open to all.

Gifts from the 2009 Family Giving Tree drive. (Photo courtesy Diana Viera.)

Family Giving Tree Drive Under Way

The holiday season is in full gear; it's a good time to get into the spirit of giving by participating in the Family Giving Tree. The Family Giving Tree Organization works with more than 250 Bay Area social service agencies that supply them with the names and wishes of the children they serve year-round. A wish card is printed for each child, detailing their age, gender, first name and their wish for a holiday gift. You can pick up a Wish Card from the Family Giving Tree at the following locations:

  • Building 40 lobby
  • Building 41 room 240
  • Building 48 Redwood Rooms front lobby
  • Building 137 third floor

Gifts should range between $15 and $30 to ensure similarity across recipient households. The Family Giving Tree campaign will end on Friday, December 10.

Thanks for giving!


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