Browse Science Stories:
2011 Archives |2010 Archives | 2009 Archives | 2008 Archives | 2007 Archives | 2006 Archives
December 16, 2010
Carbon's Magnetic Personality: Persistent, but Only Skin-deep
It's a mainstay in biological molecules, but carbon isn't the kind of element you'd expect to find in a permanent magnet,
Until now. Not only does carbon become magnetized with a little doctoring, as discovered in 2007, but new findings show this behavior comes naturally—no special treatment required—at the surface of a carbon-based material called graphite.
December 13, 2010
LCLS CXI Instrument Receives First X-rays
X-rays entered the Linac Coherent Light Source's Far Experimental Hall for the first time Saturday, as part of commissioning for the Coherent X-ray Imaging instrument.
December 9, 2010
Researchers Get First Glimpse of Light-boosting Effect in a Solid
Interactions between an atom and an intense laser sometimes
cause the atom to emit a photon with a higher energy than the incoming laser photons. Researchers at the joint SLAC-Stanford PULSE Institute for Ultrafast Energy Science and the Ohio State University
have published the first observations of this phenomenon in a crystal. The
result could help explain fundamental interactions between light and matter.
December 7, 2010
Galaxy Clusters Shine New Light on Dark Energy
A team of researchers including KIPAC astrophysicist Neelima Sehgal used observations from the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, or ACT, in the Chilean Andes to more narrowly define the properties of dark energy, that enigmatic entity that's thought to make up approximately 70 percent of the mass-energy of the universe and is pushing space apart.
December 3, 2010
A Strange Discovery: Bacteria Built with Arsenic
In a study that could rewrite biology textbooks, scientists have found the first known living organism that incorporates arsenic into the working parts of its cells. What's more, the arsenic replaces phosphorus, an element long thought essential for life.
December 2, 2010
BaBar Data Archive Prototype Arrives
In preparation for long-term access of its eight-year data set, the BaBar Collaboration acquired four prototype computers at SLAC this month.
November 30, 2010
SSRL's Hard X-rays Probe Model Fuel-Cell Catalyst
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.
November 29, 2010
An Artificial Skin Sensitive Enough to
Be Bothered by a Fly
A team of researchers led by Professor Zhenan Bao of Stanford University and Stefan Mannsfeld of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource at SLAC used a thin sheet of rubber between very thin electrodes to make flexible pressure sensors that can be paper-thin.
November 23, 2010
High Magnetic Fields Coax New Discoveries from Topological Insulators
Using one of the most powerful magnets in the world, a small group of researchers has successfully isolated signs of electrical current flowing along the surface of a topological insulator, an exotic material with promising electrical properties.
November 11, 2010
From the Theory Group: Could Quarks and Leptons
Be Supersymmetric Bound States?
The Standard Model of particle physics has been extremely successful in describing the interactions and behaviors of subatomic particles, but many important puzzles remain. One mystery is the origin of the masses for particles called quarks, which make up protons and neutrons, and leptons, of which the best known is the electron.
November 10, 2010
Fermi Telescope Discovers Giant Structure In Our Galaxy
The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has unveiled a previously unseen structure centered in the Milky Way. The feature spans 50,000 light-years and may be the remnant of an eruption from a supersized black hole at the center of our galaxy.
November 5, 2010
X-Rays Offer First Detailed Look at Hotspots for Calcium-related Disease
Using the intense X-rays from the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, researchers have determined the detailed structure of a key part of the ryanodine receptor, a protein associated with calcium-related disease.
October 25, 2010
Structural Genomics Research at SSRL Begins Exciting New Chapter
Thanks to a $37.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, researchers at the Joint Center for Structural Genomics—including a 12-member team at SLAC's Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource—will continue to map the structures of proteins for the next five years.
October 22, 2010
First Experiments with Third LCLS Instrument Go to the Source
The third round of experiments at the Linac Coherent Light Source began earlier this month at a whole new level of capability. For the first time they included research with the third LCLS instrument, the X-Ray Pump Probe, whose hard X-rays penetrate deeper into matter than the soft X-rays used by the first two instruments. This makes the LCLS XPP unique in the world.
October 14, 2010
Geant4 Joins the Hunt for Dark Matter
How can researchers distinguish the brief and rare flash of a
dark-matter particle passing through a detector? Using the Geant4 software toolkit, originally designed to simulate high-energy particle physics experiments, a small team of SLAC researchers is working with the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search collaboration to answer just
such questions for future experiments.
October 13, 2010
LCLS Third User Run is Under Way
The Linac Coherent Light Source is back up and running after three weeks of scheduled downtime.
October 7, 2010
Creating Order from Chaos at the LCLS
In the world of physics, where everything tends toward disorder, researchers working on the Linac Coherent Light Source are seeking perfect order. Many experiments at the pioneering machine will require each molecule in a puff of gas to align with all of the others, creating a uniform field of molecules on which tests can be conducted.
September 30, 2010
XPP Instrument Blasts Past Key Milestones
The X-ray Pump Probe instrument at the Linac Coherent Light Source is installed and ready for its first user experiments several weeks ahead of schedule, thanks in part to funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
September 20, 2010
Scientists Probe the Mechanism for Microbial Carbon Fixation
Each year, some microorganisms using the enzyme carbon monoxide dehydrogenase, or CODH, take an estimated 100 million tons of carbon monoxide from our air, while others use CODH to produce 10 billion tons of acetate from carbon dioxide. A team of scientists led by Catherine Drennan of MIT used the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource Beamline 11-1 and a beamline at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Advanced Light Source to decipher the mechanism of CODH's reaction.
September 14, 2010
SUNCAT: Working to Catalyze Energy Advances
SUNCAT—the Center for Sustainable Energy through Catalysis—is a new initiative in the SLAC Photon Science Directorate that will focus on creating better catalysts for use in alternative energy industries. The Center is lead by Jens Nørskov, who arrived at the beginning of June from his previous appointment as Director of the Center for Atomic-scale Materials Design at the Technical University of Denmark.
September 9, 2010
Echoes of Future Laser Technology
Even as the Linac Coherent Light Source delivers X-rays with unprecedented power, marking a new era of X-ray science, a team of SLAC researchers is working to make such X-ray lasers even better. In a paper published yesterday in
Physical Review Letters, the "Echo 7" team describes their success at adding an additional, elusive property to such beams: temporal coherence.
August 26, 2010
Researchers Trace the Origin of Super-massive Black Holes
In the very early universe, soon after the first stars formed, black holes more massive than a billion Suns already speckled the sky. For years, these super-massive black holes were a cosmic anachronism. Although cosmologists put forth two theories for how they might have formed, neither offered a satisfying explanation for how these behemoths came into existence less than a billion years after the Big Bang. Now, in a paper published today in
Nature, a team of researchers describe a third theory.
August 25, 2010
Hollow Molecules Take Center Stage
Barely two months after publication of the first Linac Coherent Light Source results on hollow atoms, two papers published in Physical Review Letters last Friday unveil the first results for hollow molecules. These studies show that the unprecedented intensity of the LCLS beam can reveal detailed information about a molecule's structure and dynamics.
August 19, 2010
Galactic Super Volcano in Action
A galactic "super-volcano" in the massive galaxy M87 is erupting and blasting gas outwards, as witnessed by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and NRAO's Very Large Array.
The cosmic volcano is being driven by a giant black hole in the galaxy's center
and preventing hundreds of millions of new stars from forming.
August 13, 2010
Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey Released
The National Academy of Sciences' National Research Council today released New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics, the result of a two-year process, involving hundreds of scientists, that ranks priorities in U.S. astronomy and astrophysics for the next decade.
August 13, 2010
New Common Link Found for High-temperature Superconductors
A research group led by Ian Fisher of the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Science, a joint SLAC-Stanford institute, has found an odd property in a particular material belonging to a family of high-temperature superconducting compounds called iron pnictides: under certain conditions, electrons flow through the material much more easily in one direction than the other.
August 13, 2010
Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope Spies a Distant Nova
Astronomers using the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have detected gamma rays from a nova for the first time, a finding that stunned observers and theorists alike. The discovery overturns the notion that novae explosions lack the power to emit enough gamma radiation to be spotted from Earth.
August 6, 2010
Topological Insulators Take Two Steps Forward
A team of researchers from the Stanford Institute of Materials and Energy Science, a joint institute of the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University, and their international collaborators have pushed research into topological insulators not just one, but two steps forward.
August 3, 2010
New Solar Energy Conversion Process Could Revamp Solar Power Production
SLAC and Stanford researchers have figured out how to simultaneously use the light and heat of the sun to generate electricity in a way that could make solar power production more than twice as efficient as existing methods and potentially cheap enough to compete with oil.
August 2, 2010
Welcome to the LCLS Generation
A short but detailed technical introduction to the Linac Coherent Light Source appeared online Sunday in Nature Photonics. Coordinated by Paul Emma, head of the LCLS accelerator physics group and with contributions from many of his LCLS teammates, the paper is a virtual tour of the LCLS in six pages plus references and acknowledgements.
July 28, 2010
Identifying New Targets to Extend the Effectiveness of HIV Protease Inhibitors
A team of scientists led by Dave Stout at The Scripps Research Institute has used beamlines at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource to
identify two new potential drug targets on the enzyme HIV protease.
July 27, 2010
Need Ultrashort X-ray Pulses? Try Aluminum Foil
Last week, users on the Atomic, Molecular and Optical science instrument at the Linac Coherent Light Source experimented with a novel piece of technology that aims to make the world's quickest X-ray pulses even quicker.
July 22, 2010
SLAC to Join New DOE Research Hub for Artificial Photosynthesis
This morning, the Department of Energy announced the creation of a new Energy Innovation Hub aimed at finding a practical way of making fuels with an artificial version of photosynthesis. Led by the California Institute of Technology and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the new Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis will include work at SLAC, Stanford, and University of California campuses in Berkeley, Santa Barbara, Irvine and San Diego.
July 20, 2010
From the Theory Group: Measuring the Masses of Invisible Particles
The Large Hadron Collider is running at CERN, and this accelerator could well be capable of producing dark matter particles. If researchers can identify the events with dark matter production, we will have a unique opportunity to study the elementary quanta of dark matter in the laboratory.
July 14, 2010
First Soft X-rays Explore Ultrafast Magnetic Behaviors
The first user experiments on the Soft X-ray instrument at the Linac Coherent Light Source looked to explain on the nanoscale how magnetic fields switch between "up" and "down" states—a key process used to store data in computers.
July 13, 2010
Dark Energy Measurement Sheds New Light on Universe's Expansion
Through observations of massive galaxy clusters, scientists have made the most precise measurements to date of the effects of dark energy and gravity on cosmological scales. This work is an important step toward understanding why the expansion of the universe is accelerating.
July 1, 2010
First Results from the LCLS: Unpeeling Atoms and Molecules from the Inside Out
The first published scientific results from the world's most powerful hard X-ray laser, located at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, show its unique ability to control the behaviors of individual electrons within simple atoms and molecules by stripping them away, one by one—in some cases creating hollow atoms.
June 29, 2010
Crafting the World's Smallest Beam
The Accelerator Test Facility 2 in Japan reached a milestone last month when an international team of researchers—including several SLACers—successfully narrowed the beam down to a height of 310 nanometers, about 1 percent the diameter of a human hair.
June 23, 2010
First Scientific Paper from LCLS Explores Molecules' Interaction with Ultrashort, Ultrafast X-ray Pulses
The first published scientific results from experiments at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source are out!
June 15, 2010
Mergers Most Likely Fuel for Active Galaxies
The first solid evidence for how the center of some galaxies come to shine brightly while others barely flicker has been uncovered by researchers at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology and several other institutions around the world.
June 10, 2010
Methane Enzyme Shows Promise for Fuels
A paper by SSRL users published in Nature last month provides an alternate path to methane-as-fuel: converting it into the liquid, methanol.
June 9, 2010
Hard X-rays Reach LCLS Pump Probe Instrument
On June 7, the X-ray Pump Probe instrument became the first of the Linac Coherent Light Source's scientific instruments to receive hard X-rays.
June 8, 2010
Frequent Injection Mode Boosts Resolution for SSRL Users
After months of planning and testing, the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource began its first user run with the SPEAR3 storage ring operating in frequent injection mode yesterday.
June 3, 2010
From the Theory Group: Anticipating the First Steps Beyond the Standard Model
The particle physics community has just entered a critical new era with the commissioning of the Large Hadron
May 28, 2010
Fermi Telescope Releases First Source Catalog
The first catalog of high-energy gamma-ray sources detected by the Large Area Telescope on the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope was published online Tuesday, expanding upon the Bright Source List, an early release of the first 200 detected sources published in July 2009.
May 21, 2010
Water Motions Revealed
As water sits, seemingly calm, the hydrogen bonds between water molecules are continually breaking and forming, with each molecule switching dance partners a hundred billion times a second.
May 20, 2010
Ultra-high Speed Plus Fine-tuned Light Equals a Whole New Look at Materials
X-ray science is getting a boost from a marriage of technologies. Scientists already had instruments that can separate colors of light, but don't pulse fast. And they have fast-pulsing lasers that can't pick more than one color.
Enter the Soft X-Ray Materials Science instrument, or SXR. It can do both at once.
May 11, 2010
X-Rays Reveal Chemical Link Between Birds and Dinosaurs
Researchers have found that a 150 million year old "dinobird" fossil, long thought to contain nothing but fossilized bone and rock, has been hiding remnants of the animal's original chemistry.
May 7, 2010
Second LCLS Instrument Sees First X-rays
For the first time, scientists at the SLAC National Accelerator Center pumped ultra-short X-ray pulses through the Soft X-ray Materials Research instrument yesterday.
May 6, 2010
First X-ray Laser's Early Success Brings Approval for Next-phase Facility
The U.S. Department of Energy has granted approval for SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory—home of the Linac Coherent Light Source, the world's first hard X-ray laser—to begin planning a second X-ray laser at the laboratory.
May 6, 2010
Second LCLS User Run Begins Today
Linac Coherent Light Source users are on-site and the X-ray beam is knocking at the door of the Near Experimental Hall in preparation for the second LCLS user run, which begins this morning at 9:00 a.m. and will continue through September 2010.
May 5, 2010
Detangling Algae Enzyme Behavior for Future Fuels
Using the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource's bright X-rays, scientists have uncovered insights into how a complicated enzyme that naturally produces hydrogen gas is assembled in nature.
May 4, 2010
Deadly Carcinogen Unraveled
Using the bright X-ray beam of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, researchers have unveiled the mystery behind one of the deadliest toxins that causes liver cancer.
April 29, 2010
A Diamond is a Diamond...
until It's Very Small
If researchers with the Stanford Institute of Material and Energy Science are successful, diamandoids could become a lot bigger, showing up in everything from home electronics to pharmaceuticals.
April 26, 2010
Fuel Cells Get Up to Speed with a New Kind of Platinum
A new form of platinum that could be used to make cheaper, more efficient fuel cells has been created by researchers at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the University of Houston.
April 15, 2010
Einstein's Theory Fights Off Challengers
Via different methods, two separate teams have tested gravity and General Relativity using Chandra observations of galaxy clusters.
April 12, 2010
Matter in Extreme Conditions Instrument on Track for Early 2011 Construction Start
The Linac Coherent Light Source's sixth scientific instrument, the Matter in Extreme Conditions instrument, is blitzing through the project planning and approval stages.
April 6, 2010
To Surf, or to Dance? Electrons' Extracurricular Activities Affect Superconductivity
Superconductors, the wonder materials that transport electricity without any resistance or energy loss, appear to be more complex than previously thought, according to research published online this week in Nature Physics by scientists at the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Science, a joint institute of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University.
April 5, 2010
X-band Research Accelerates at SLAC
SLAC Accelerator Research Division physicists Tor Raubenheimer and Chris Adolphsen are looking to revitalize SLAC’s X-band technology program. In early March, SLAC hosted an X-band workshop, aimed at enticing users with the possibilities and rounding up commercial interest.
March 29, 2010
Capturing More Gamma Rays
Stefan Funk wants to improve ground-based gamma ray imaging systems.
March 25, 2010
Clobbering Electron Clouds
Researchers at SLAC and other institutions are creating a sort of pest control for particle beams: squashing the clouds of electrons that gather in accelerators and disrupt experiments.
March 18, 2010
Taming the Superconductor
Over the past 25 years, two new materials have been discovered that allow electricity to flow without resistance at surprisingly high temperatures. These new types of superconductor, called cuprates and pnictides, may become the workhorse superconductors used in everything from solar cells to electronics. If researchers can learn to understand and tame them, that is.
March 17, 2010
Sloan Fellowship Will Help Jacob Wacker Explore the Fundamentals
In the convoluted world of theoretical particle physics, Jacob Wacker channels his energy into two rather different questions: the nature and origin of very long-lived particles and new theories of dark matter.
In the next year, he expects the pace and scope of his research to accelerate with the commissioning of the Large Hadron Collider in Europe.
His Sloan Fellowship funding will help support graduate students and computing resources for his team during this time.
March 17, 2010
Workshop Explores X-ray Effects on Biological Samples
It takes a bright X-ray beam to reveal the structure of proteins and other biological molecules.
The exposure can damage samples and introduce noise into already subtle data.
Last week more than 50 scientists from around the world came to SLAC to discuss
means of accounting for and reducing X-ray radiation's effects on samples.
March 16, 2010
Team to Survey First Third of Cosmic Time
A team of more than 100 investigators, including Risa Wechsler of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, have been awarded 902 orbits—or a total of about three and a half months—of observing time on the Hubble Space Telescope, the most time ever awarded to a single project.
March 15, 2010
Seeking Dark Matter on a Desktop
Desktop experiments could point the way to dark matter discovery, complementing grand astronomical searches and deep underground observations. According to recent theoretical results, small blocks of matter on a tabletop could reveal elusive properties of the as-yet-unidentified dark matter particles that make up a quarter of the universe, potentially making future large-scale searches easier.
March 10, 2010
RASICAM: The Little Infrared Camera that Could
In 2011, the Dark Energy Survey collaboration will install the largest digital camera ever built inside the Cerro Tololo dome to gaze deep into the universe. And sitting nearby, gazing at something a little closer to earth, will be the SLAC-built Radiometric All Sky Infrared Camera, or RASICAM.
March 3, 2010
Fermi Telescope Probes "Dragons" of the Gamma-ray Sky
A new study of the ever-present fog of gamma rays from sources outside our galaxy shows that less than a third of the emission arises from what astronomers once considered the most likely suspects—black-hole-powered jets from active galaxies.
March 2, 2010
Preparing for LCLS Soft X-ray Science
The finish line for the Linac Coherent Light Source's Soft X-ray Materials Research instrument is barreling into view. In a few short months, the SXR should be in position to host user groups for a variety of different experiments, from surface chemistry to magnetic ordering to superconductivity and beyond.
March 1, 2010
Astronomically Large Lenses Measure the Age and Size of the Universe
Using entire galaxies as lenses to look at other galaxies, researchers have a newly precise way to measure the size and age of the universe and how rapidly it is expanding, on par with other techniques.
February 25, 2010
Fermi Telescope's Hunt for Cosmic Ray Origins
New images from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope show where supernova remnants emit radiation a billion times more energetic than visible light.
February 23, 2010
Researchers Rediscover the Structure of Water
A team of researchers at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource has found the molecular structure of water to be more complex than recently thought, suggesting that molecular models that went out of fashion decades ago may be in fact more accurate than recent ones.
February 18, 2010
Extreme Jets Take New Shape
Jets of particles streaming from black holes in far-away galaxies operate differently than previously thought, according to a study published today in
February 17, 2010
LCLS Team Puts the 'Ultra' in 'Ultrafast'
For scientists wishing to study molecular structure, the LCLS's 100 femtosecond pulses
provide a remarkable tool. But for physicists eager to see atoms in motion, 100 femtoseconds is a bit too long. With a few setting changes, last fall the LCLS team achieved pulses as brief as 10 femtoseconds, and scientists hope to make them shorter still.
February 16, 2010
BaBar Collaboration Set for Data Analysis and Archival Phases
'Babarians' had something to celebrate as they met at SLAC last week.
On January 22, the BaBar International Funding Committee guaranteed the BaBar
Collaboration funding through 2012 and beyond, assuring they can fully extract
the wealth of physics from the data collected in the BaBar experiment.
January 28, 2010
SLAC Advanced Computations Group Earns Supercomputing Time
A group of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory scientists will have another year and another 12,000,000 processor hours on the supercomputer at Oakridge National Laboratory, to perform research that could greatly improve the next generation of linear colliders.
January 26, 2010
Decorated with Electric Current, Nanoribbons Align with Expectations
A bizarre substance predicted to shrink electronics and give quantum physicists a new tabletop toy behaves pretty much as its designers expected.
January 14, 2010
Recycle, Reuse, Re-accelerate
Chugging along in the background, old physics machines are the workhorses behind many cutting-edge projects, from the world's most powerful X-ray laser to the Large Hadron Collider and a lab that tests microchips bound for Mars.
January 13, 2010
Jeff Smith Helps Keep the LHC Beam in Check
Here at SLAC, Jeff Smith studies collimation systems, which he describes as machine protection structures for the Large Hadron Collider. While designing a collimator may not sound as flashy as colliding proton beams, it is a necessary precaution to protect nearby equipment from the collider's high-energy beams.
January 8, 2010
Fermi Telescope Closes In on Mystery of Cosmic Ray Acceleration
A new result from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope's Large Area Telescope collaboration offers insight into how, exactly, the universe accelerates
cosmic rays to such high energies.
January 7, 2010
ATF2 Narrows the Focus
Last month the KEK facility in Japan hosted the ninth Project Meeting for the Accelerator Test Facility 2, or ATF2, and a few SLAC staff traveled
overseas to participate.
January 6, 2010
Pulsars Help in Search for Gravitational Waves
Radio astronomers have uncovered 17 millisecond pulsars in our galaxy by studying unknown high-energy sources detected by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.
January 5, 2010
Preserving the Data Harvest
BaBar's treasure trove of data, which may contain answers to questions we don't even know how to ask yet, raises an increasingly important question in high-energy physics: When the party's over, what do you do with the data?