Newswise — Menlo Park, Calif. — SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory researchers will share the latest discoveries and innovations in a wide range of fields at this year’s AAAS Annual Meeting (Feb. 12-16 in San Jose, Calif.), including X-ray lasers, quantum materials, citizen science, new materials for electronics, cosmology visualization, computer-aided catalyst design, next-generation batteries, accelerators, advanced adaptive optics, cosmic inflation and nanoscale optical tomography.

EMBARGOED SLAC NEWS - Scientists Take First X-ray Portraits of Living Bacteria at the LCLS Researchers working at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have captured the first X-ray portraits of living bacteria. This milestone, to be reported in the Feb. 11 issue of Nature Communications, is a first step toward possible X-ray explorations of the molecular machinery at work in viral infections, cell division, photosynthesis and other processes that are important to biology, human health and our environment. The experiment took place at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser. Please contact Andrew Gordon at [email protected] for more information or to arrange an interview.

EMBARGOED SLAC NEWS - Scientists Get First Glimpse of Transition to Chemical BondsScience Express will publish, on Thursday, Feb. 12, research from SLAC scientists who used an X-ray laser to see, for the first time, the transition state where two atoms begin to form a weak bond on the way to becoming a molecule. SLAC and Stockholm University professor Anders Nilsson will be available by phone and in person at SLAC for interviews Feb. 9-11 and at AAAS Feb. 12 and 13. Please contact Andrew Gordon at [email protected] for more information or to arrange an interview.

Celebration of 2015: The International Year of LightUwe Bergmann will discuss how X-ray laser research provides information crucial to developments in medicine, technology and electronics, pollution control and energy independence. Recent work has also been done on batteries and on catalysts for making fuels – while they are operating – to provide insight into mechanisms for function and failure. Other participants include Columbia University, Duke University and the University of Southern California.When: Friday, Feb. 13, 8:30-11:30 a.m.Where: San Jose Convention Center – Room 230A

A Science Cycle: From Novel Imaging to Novel Physics, and Vice Versa Exotic quantum states produce magnetic signatures that are distinctive, interesting, and informative, but ultimately hard to measure. Kathryn Moler built a lab based on the strategy of specialized magnetic nanoprobes to make progress on real materials. She will provide a visual tour of the magnetism produced at the nanoscale by quantum states. Other participants include Yale University and Princeton University. When: Friday, Feb. 13, 1:30-4:30 p.m.Where: San Jose Convention Center – Room 230A

Citizen Science from the Zooniverse: Cutting-Edge Research with One Million ScientistsSpace Warps is a citizen science project that enables new gravitational lenses to be discovered by volunteers inspecting images displayed to them via a custom-built website. Over 60,000 volunteers have taken part in the Space Warps project to date, and have found dozens of lens candidates. Philip Marshall will give a tour of the project, and point out lessons that can be drawn from it. Other participants include Alder Planetarium, the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.When: Friday, Feb. 13, 1:30-4:30 p.m.Where: San Jose Convention Center – Room LL21C

Science Visualization: The Art of Making Data BeautifulFrom scenes of melting ice caps to swirling clusters of galaxies, scientific data have the potential to tell important stories about the natural world in a manner that can be both technically accurate and stunningly beautiful. Tom Abel will moderate the discussion about how visualizations provide a new perspective on the data for scientists and a path for engaging the public. Ralf Kaehler will describe the role of scientific visualization in cosmological research, explain how he produces the visualizations and show examples of his team's work. Other participants include NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the California Academy of Sciences.When: Saturday, Feb. 14, 8-9:30 a.m.Where: San Jose Convention Center – Room 210AB

Computer-Aided Design of Catalysts for Sustainable Energy ConversionThis session explores the use of modern computational chemistry to accelerate the discovery of new catalysts. The development of more efficient and accurate methods for calculating surface chemical properties of a material, together with rapidly growing computer power, helps determine the properties needed in a catalyst and uses that understanding to screen millions of compounds for new leads. Thomas Bligaard will provide examples of computer-aided catalyst design. Other participants include Princeton University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.When: Saturday, Feb. 14, 10-11:30 a.m.Where: San Jose Convention Center – LL20C

Press BriefingNext-Generation Batteries: A New ReportRechargeable lithium-ion batteries are the workhorses of today’s mobile electronics, with five billion sold last year alone to power everything from cell phones to laptops and electric cars. But many believe these powerful batteries are coming up against their limits. In 2012 the U.S. Department of Energy launched a research initiative to find ways to make electric car batteries five times cheaper and five times more energy dense – and thus smaller and lighter – by 2017. Meanwhile, the growth of wind, solar and other variable energy sources creates an increasing demand to store large amounts of energy for release into the electric power grid when needed. Speakers will discuss the path forward, including the release at this briefing of results from CalCharge’s Advanced Manufacturing Roadmap project. Yi Cui will discuss some of the novel materials that could allow large-scale grid storage, including aqueous and redox-flow batteries. His group also is working on high capacity battery chemistry with 10 times the potential of conventional batteries to store charges. Cui will also discuss a new smart safe battery idea. Michael Toney will describe the use of X-ray methods during battery operation to understand how high storage-capacity battery electrodes degrade during use. Other participants include Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Waterloo.When: Saturday, Feb. 14, 11 a.m.Where: San Jose Marriott, Salon V

Next-Generation Batteries for Mobile Devices and the GridIn the past two decades rechargeable batteries have been a great success in powering consumer electronics. There is a recent strong interest in applying rechargeable batteries to vehicle electrification and grid-scale storage, which presents new challenges and opportunities for batteries including energy density, cost, safety, and cycle life among many parameters. Yi Cui will discuss the future of rechargeable batteries for transportation and the grid; Michael Toney will delve into how batteries really work.When: Saturday, Feb. 14, 1:30-4:30 p.m.Where: San Jose Convention Center – Room 230B

Innovations in Accelerator Science Particle accelerator systems have been key drivers for a broad array of fundamental discoveries and transformational scientific advances since the early 20th century. Since their inception, they have also been core components of U.S. technological innovation and economic competitiveness. Fundamental accelerator science provides the foundation in knowledge and workforce upon which major advances in accelerator-driven technologies will be based. Norbert Holtkamp will discuss one of the most spectacular new applications of accelerator science in recent years, the X-ray free-electron laser, or XFEL.When: Saturday, Feb. 14, 1:30-4:30 p.m.Where: San Jose Convention Center – LL20A

The Cosmic Microwave Background: Window into New PhysicsScientists use the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) as a probe of the very early universe and a tool for mapping large-scale structures. The search for B-mode polarization of CMB photons by primordial gravitational waves has opened up new vistas, not only for cosmologists but for high-energy physicists as well. Tom Abel will moderate this discussion, while Sarah Stokes Kernasovskiy will cover the BICEP2 experiment and upgrades.When: Sunday, Feb. 15, 10-11:30 a.m.Where: San Jose Convention Center, Room 230A

Correlating Properties of Nano-Building Blocks Via Hyperspectral Nano-Optical ImagingThis session introduces recent nano-optical advances and novel approaches for correlating the function of nanoscale building blocks with local structure and composition using hyperspectral nanoimaging. Jennifer Dionne uses cathodoluminescence (local excitation by electrons while detecting the emitted light) to circumvent the diffraction limit and study the relation between morphology and plasmonic behavior of nanoantennas.When: Sunday, Feb. 15, 3-4:30 p.m.Where: San Jose Convention Center – Room LL21A


SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. To learn more, please visit

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit

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