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In this issue:
From the Director: 20, 30, 40, 50 Year Awards Ceremony
Stöhr, Shen Honored at APS Meeting
In the Spotlight: March 2011 Spot Awards
Word of the Week: High-temperature Superconductor

SLAC Today

Friday - April 1, 2011

From the Director:
20, 30, 40, 50 Year Awards Ceremony

(Photo - Persis Drell)
(Photo by Linda Cicero.)

I had the pleasure Wednesday evening to participate in a ceremony honoring staff who have been with SLAC 20, 30 or 40 years. These are employees who joined the lab when Burt or Pief was director of SLAC. If they came to work at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, then they worked under the leadership of Seb Doniach and Artie Bienenstock.

In preparing my remarks for Wednesday's event, I was struck by how much SLAC has changed through the decades. I realized that for a relative newcomer like me (I'm celebrating my nine-year anniversary at SLAC in April), it has felt as though there has been a huge amount of change at the lab these past few years. We turned on the Linac Coherent Light Source, SPEAR3 and the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, and we turned off the B Factory and the Final Focus Test Beam, all in a period of about five years.  Read more...

Stöhr, Shen Honored at APS Meeting

Two SLAC scientists were honored at the March meeting of the American Physical Society last week in Dallas, Texas. Joachim Stöhr, director of the Linac Coherent Light Source, and Zhi-Xun Shen, chief scientist of the lab, both received awards for their work and spoke about their research at a special session for APS honorees.

Photo - Joachim Stöhr
Joachim Stöhr.

Stöhr received the Davisson-Germer Prize in Atomic or Surface Physics, created to "recognize and encourage outstanding work in atomic physics or surface physics." The award citation states that he was recognized for his contributions to "the development of soft X-ray based spectroscopy and microscopy leading to fundamental contributions to the understanding of chemical bonding, magnetism and dynamics at surfaces and interfaces."

"The award was unexpected but a welcome surprise," Stöhr said.

Photo - Z.X. Shen
Z.X. Shen.

Shen received the Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize, created to "recognize and encourage outstanding theoretical or experimental contributions to condensed matter physics." The award citation notes Shen's "innovations in angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, which advanced the understanding of the cuprate superconductors, and transformed the study of strongly-correlated electronic systems."

"I am honored by the Buckley Prize," Shen said, "and I would like to thank the members of my group and other collaborators for their contribution to the string of discoveries that led to this recognition."

In the Spotlight:
March 2011 Spot Awards

(Image - Spot Award logo)

Sometimes it's not what you do, it's how you do it.

Simon Ovrahim, of SLAC's Security and Emergency Management group, saw that in action from master mover May Pon of the Facilities Support group and her moving minions, Stephanie Johnson and Jill Bentz, along Anthony Renteria from the Facilities Labor Pool. Johnson planned and organized the move of Ovrahim's team into the new Security Building, while Bentz backed her up and Renteria worked with the contractor who actually moved everything. 

Read more...

Word of the Week:
High-temperature Superconductor

(Image: Sandbox Studio.)

Superconducting materials exhibit no electrical resistance below a certain temperature, called the critical temperature. For many years, that temperature hovered near absolute zero and could be reached only using rare, expensive refrigerants such as liquid helium, which limited their use.

In 1986, researchers discovered the first high-temperature superconductor, with a critical temperature of 35 K. Soon another was found with a critical temperature of 92 K. Still chilly, considering that the freezing point of water is 273 K. But 92 K is within the reach of liquid nitrogen, a more abundant and economical refrigerant—an important point when putting high-temperature superconductors to work.

Even higher critical temperatures may be possible, but there's one problem—physicists don't yet understand how high-temperature superconductors work. It's currently one of the hottest topics in condensed matter research. Recent work at SLAC suggests that a new phase of matter may be involved.

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