DOE News
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    The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
    • 2018-10-30 14:30:20
    • Article ID: 703086

    SLAC joins new LaserNetUS network to boost high-intensity laser research

    The initiative will give scientists more access to powerful lasers at universities and labs.

    • Credit: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

      SLAC’s Matter in Extreme Conditions Instrument at the Linac Coherent Light Source will offer optical laser-only time to visiting scientists as a part of the LaserNetUS network. High intensity lasers at MEC coupled with the LCLS X-ray laser have been used to study extremely hot, dense matter found at the centers of stars and giant planets.

    The Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has joined a new research network called LaserNetUS that aims to boost access to high-intensity laser facilities at labs and universities across the country, including the Matter in Extreme Conditions (MEC) laser facility at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS).

    The initiative, which is funded by the Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) program in DOE’s Office of Science, will receive $6.8 million over two years and includes nine institutions nationwide operating high-intensity, ultrafast lasers.  Along with SLAC, partners are the University of Texas at Austin, Ohio State University, Colorado State University, University of Michigan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Rochester, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

    High power, broad reach

    High-intensity lasers have a broad range of applications in basic research, manufacturing and medicine. For example, they can be used to recreate some of the most extreme conditions in the universe, such as those found in supernova explosions and near black holes. They can generate high-energy particles for high energy physics research or intense X-ray pulses to probe matter as it evolves on ultrafast time scales. They are also promising in many potential technological areas such as for generating intense neutron bursts which could evaluate aging aircraft components, precisely cut materials or potentially deliver tightly focused radiation therapy to cancer tumors.

    LaserNetUS includes the most powerful lasers in the United States, some of which have powers approaching or exceeding a petawatt. Petawatt lasers generate light with at least a million billion watts of power, or nearly 100 times the output of all the world's power plants – but only in the briefest of bursts. Using the technology pioneered by two of the winners of this year's Nobel Prize in Physics, chirped pulse amplification of optical lasers, these lasers fire off ultrafast bursts of light shorter than a trillionth of a second.

    Leveraging SLAC’s MEC

    Built in 2012, SLAC’s MEC instrument has enabled unique studies of extremely hot, dense matter found at the centers of stars and giant planets. The optical laser, with a peak power of 25 terawatts, combined with the world-leading X-ray laser beam of LCLS has produced numerous scientific results published in major journals. LaserNetUS will facilitate access to laser-only time at MEC; access to LCLS, a DOE Office of Science user facility, is decided through a separate peer review process.

    “I expect this network to energize the high-power laser community in the U.S. by leveraging some of the excellent existing facilities and motivating future investments,” Gilliss Dyer, department head of MEC said. “There are many talented scientists in this field who need better access to laser facilities to try their ideas. For SLAC, this is a great opportunity to broaden the MEC user base and drive even more great science.”

    Laser-only time supported through LaserNetUS could give researchers an opportunity to develop experimental platforms and gain experience valuable in building successful proposals for LCLS experiments at MEC, Dyer said.

    Maintaining leadership

    The U.S. was the dominant innovator and user of high-intensity laser technology in the 1990s, but now Europe and Asia have taken the lead, according to a recent report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine titled "Opportunities in Intense Ultrafast Lasers: Reaching for the Brightest Light." Currently, 80 to 90 percent of the world's high-intensity ultrafast laser systems are overseas, and all of the highest-power research lasers currently in construction or already built are also overseas. The report's authors recommended establishing a national network of laser facilities to emulate successful efforts in Europe. LaserNetUS was establisihed for exactly that purpose.

    LaserNetUS will hold a nationwide call for proposals for access to the network's facilities. The proposals will be peer reviewed by an independent panel. This call will allow any researcher in the U.S. to request time on one of the high-intensity lasers at the LaserNetUS host institutions.


    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, Calif., SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. For more information, please visit slac.stanford.edu.

    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.

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    Scientists Produce 3-D Chemical Maps of Single Bacteria

    Scientists at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II)--a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory--have used ultrabright x-rays to image single bacteria with higher spatial resolution than ever before. Their work, published in Scientific Reports, demonstrates an x-ray imaging technique, called x-ray fluorescence microscopy (XRF), as an effective approach to produce 3-D images of small biological samples.

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    Argonne's Min Si receives early career award from IEEE Computer Society

    Argonne's Min Si wins Award for Excellence for Early Career Researchers in High Performance Computing through the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

    Jefferson Lab Director Appointed to Distinguished Professorship

    Stuart Henderson, director of the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, has been appointed the Governor's Distinguished CEBAF professor at Old Dominion University. The position is supported by the Commonwealth of Virginia and is named for the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility, which is the main research facility located at Jefferson Lab.

    DOE issues call for HPC for Energy Innovation proposals

    The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) High Performance Computing for Energy Innovation (HPC4EI) Initiative today issued its first joint solicitation for the High Performance Computing for Manufacturing Program (HPC4Mfg) and the High Performance Computing for Materials Program (HPC4Mtls).

    DOE funding advances project to turn captured CO2 into key chemicals

    The U.S. Department of Energy has selected Southern Research for an award of up to $1.5 million to advance technology for carbon dioxide utilization.

    Sierra Reaches Higher Altitudes, Takes Number Two Spot on List of Fastest Supercomputers

    Sierra, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's newest supercomputer, rose to second place on the list of the world's fastest computing systems, TOP500 List representatives announced Monday at the International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis conference (SC18) in Dallas.

    Green energy: Wind energy agreement will provide savings, 50 percent of electricity needs for Kansas State University Manhattan campus

    Kansas State University has signed an agreement with Westar Energy to provide approximately 50 percent of the energy needs for the university's main Manhattan campus from a wind farm in Nemaha County and save the university nearly $200,000 annually.

    INCITE grants awarded to 62 computational research projects

    The U.S. Department of Energy announced new projects for 2019 through its Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment (INCITE) program.

    Argonne's Raj Kettimuthu Named ACM Distinguished Member

    Argonne computer scientist Raj Kettimuthu recently was named a Distinguished Member of the Association for Computing Machinery for his development of tools to analyze and enhance end-to-end data transfer performance.

    Jefferson Lab-Affiliated Researchers Honored as APS Fellows

    The Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility now has a few more fellows on campus. The American Physical Society, a professional membership society that works on behalf of the physics community, recently announced its list of 2018 fellowships.

    Jefferson Lab Receives DOE Award for Energy Efficient Upgrade

    On Oct. 23, a team from the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility was honored at the 2018 Federal Energy and Water Management Award Ceremony for upgrades made to the lab's data center, ultimately improving its energy efficiency.


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    Microbes Eat the Same in Labs and the Desert

    Analyses of natural communities forming soil crusts agree with laboratory studies of isolated microbe-metabolite relationships.

    Diverse Biofeedstocks Have High Ethanol Yields and Offer Biorefineries Flexibility

    Evidence suggests that biorefineries can accept various feedstocks without negatively impacting the amount of ethanol produced per acre.

    Opening Access to Explore the Synthetic Chemistry of Neptunium

    New, easily prepared starting material opens access to learning more about a difficult-to-control element in nuclear waste.

    Tiny Titanium Barrier Halts Big Problem in Fuel-Producing Solar Cells

    New design coats molecular components and dramatically improves stability under tough, oxidizing conditions.

    Turning Wood Scraps into Tape

    A new chemical process converts a component of wasted wood pulp and other biomass into high-value pressure-sensitive adhesives.

    Very Heavy Elements Deliver More Electrons

    Scientists revise understanding of the limits of bonding for very electron-rich heavy elements.

    Probing Water's "No-Man's Land" Temperature Region

    Measuring the physical properties of water at previously unexplored temperatures offers insights into one of the world's essential liquids.

    Novel Soil Bacteria with Unusual Genes Synthesize Unique Antibiotic Precursors

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    Warmer Temperatures Lengthen Growing Season, Increase Plants' Vulnerability to Frost

    Experimental warming treatments show how peatland forests may respond to future environmental change.

    Rising Stars Seek to Learn from the Master: Mother Nature

    A trio of scientists was recognized for their early career successes in uncovering how microbes produce fuel, insights that could change our energy portfolio


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