The Advanced Light Source (ALS) is a research facility at
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), commonly referred to as Berkeley Lab, is a United States national laboratory that conducts scientific research on behalf of the Department of EnergyA Ministry of Energy or Department of Energy is a ...
California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States. With over 39.3million residents across a total area of approximately , it is the List of states and territories of the United States by population, most populous and the List of ...
. One of the world's brightest sources of
Ultraviolet (UV) is a form of electromagnetic radiation
Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that stud ...
An X-ray, or X-radiation, is a penetrating form of high-energy electromagnetic radiation. Most X-rays have a wavelength ranging from 10 Picometer, picometers to 10 Nanometer, nanometers, corresponding to frequency, frequencies in the r ...
light, the ALS is the first "third-generation"
synchrotron light source
A synchrotron light source is a source of (EM) usually produced by a , for scientific and technical purposes. First observed in s, synchrotron light is now produced by storage rings and other specialized s, typically accelerating s. Once the ...
in its energy range, providing multiple extremely bright sources of intense and coherent short-wavelength light for use in scientific experiments by researchers from around the world. It is funded by the
US Department of Energy
The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is a Cabinet of the United States, cabinet-level department of the Federal government of the United States, United States government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and sa ...
(DOE) and operated by the
University of California
The University of California (UC) is a public university, public Land-grant university, land-grant research university, research university system in the U.S. state of California. The system is composed of the campuses at University of Califor ...
. In June 2018,
Stephen Douglas Kevan (born 1954) is an American Condensed matter physics, condensed matter physicist who researches "surface and thin film physics; electronic structure and collective excitations at surfaces; nanoscale spatial and temporal fluctuat ...
became the director of the ALS.
The ALS serves about 2,000 researchers ("users") every year from academic, industrial, and government laboratories worldwide. Experiments at the ALS are performed at nearly 40
In accelerator physics, a beamline refers to the trajectory of the beam of accelerated particles, including the overall construction of the path segment (guide tubes, diagnostic devices) along a specific path of an accelerator facility. This p ...
s that can operate simultaneously over 5,000 hours per year, resulting in nearly 1,000 scientific publications annually in a wide variety of fields. Any qualified researcher can propose to use an ALS beamline.
Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant field
Field may r ...
is used to select from among the most important proposals received from researchers who apply for beam time at the ALS. No charge is made for beam time if a user's research is nonproprietary (i.e., the user plans to publish the results in the open literature). About 16% of users come from outside the US.
How it works
Electron bunches traveling near the speed of light are forced into a nearly circular path by magnets in the ALS storage ring. Between these magnets there are straight sections where the electrons are forced into a slalom-like path by dozens of magnets of alternating polarity in devices called "undulators." Under the influence of these magnets, electrons emit beams of electromagnetic radiation, from the infrared through the visible, ultraviolet, and x-ray regimes. The resulting beams, collimated along the direction of the electrons' path, shine down beamlines to instruments at experiment endstations.
Lower-energy soft x-ray light is the ALS' specialty, filling an important niche and complementing other DOE light source facilities. Higher-energy x-rays are also available from locations where superconducting magnets create "superbends" in the electrons' path. Soft x-rays are used to characterize the electronic structure of matter and to reveal microscopic structures with elemental and chemical specificity. Research in materials science, biology, chemistry, physics, and the environmental sciences make use of these capabilities.
Ongoing research topics and techniques
* Probing the electronic structure of matter
* Testing optics and photoresists for next generation photolithography
* Understanding magnetic materials
* 3D biological imaging
* Protein crystallography
* Ozone photochemistry
* X-ray microscopy of cells
* Chemical reaction dynamics
* Atomic and molecular physics
* Extreme ultraviolet lithography
* Synchrotron infrared nano-spectroscopy
Scientific and technological innovations and advancements
A lithium-ion battery or Li-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery
A rechargeable battery, storage battery, or secondary cell, (or archaically accumulator) is a type of electrical battery
A battery is a device consisting of o ...
for electric vehicles and mobile electronics
* Nanoscale magnetic imaging for compact data storage
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s that are flexible and easy to produce
* Harnessing "
Artificial photosynthesis is a chemical process that biomimics the natural process of photosynthesis
Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respi ...
" for clean, renewable energy
Combustion, or burning, is a high-temperature exothermic redox chemical reaction between a fuel (the reductant) and an oxidant, usually atmospheric oxygen, that produces oxidized, often gaseous products, in a mixture termed as smoke. Combustion ...
for cleaner-burning fuels
* More effective chemical reactions for
A fuel cell is an electrochemical cell
An electrochemical cell is a device capable of either generating electrical energy
Electrical energy is energy derived from electric potential energy or kinetic energy. When used loosely, ''electri ...
s, pollution control, or fuel refinement
* Using microbes to clean up toxins in the environment
Biofuel is fuel that is produced through contemporary processes from biomass, rather than by the very slow geological processes involved in the formation of fossil fuels, such as oil. Since biomass technically can be used as a fuel directly (e. ...
s from abundant, renewable plants
Protein structure is the three-dimensional arrangement of atoms in an amino acid
Amino acids are organic compound
, CH4; is among the simplest organic compounds.
In chemistry, organic compounds are generally any chemical compounds that c ...
s for rational drug design
* Producing ever-smaller
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s for more powerful computers
When the ALS was first proposed in the early 1980s by former LBNL director
David Arthur Shirley (March 30, 1934 – March 29, 2021) was an American chemist, best known as the fourth director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), commonly referred to as Berkeley La ...
, skeptics doubted the use of a synchrotron optimized for soft x-rays and ultraviolet light. According to former ALS director Daniel Chemla
, "The scientific case for a third-generation soft x-ray facility such as the ALS had always been fundamentally sound. However, getting the larger scientific community to believe it was an uphill battle."
The presidency of Ronald Reagan began at noon EST (17:00 UTC) on January 20, 1981, when Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan ( ; February 6, 1911June 5, 2004) was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United S ...
budget allocated $1.5 million for the construction of the ALS.
The planning and design process began in 1987, ground was broken in 1988, and construction was completed in 1993. The new building incorporated a 1930s-era domed structure designed by Arthur Brown, Jr.
(designer of the
Coit Tower is a tower in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood of San Francisco
San Francisco (/Help:IPA/English, ˌsæn fɹənˈsɪskoʊ/; Spanish language, Spanish for "Francis of Assisi, Saint Francis"), officially the City and County of S ...
San Francisco (; Spanish
Spanish may refer to:
* Items from or related to Spain:
**Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain
* Spanish, Ontario, Canada
* Spanish River (dis ...
) to house E. O. Lawrence
's 184-inch cyclotron, an advanced version of his first
A cyclotron is a type of particle accelerator
, a synchrotron collider type particle accelerator at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), Batavia, Illinois, USA. Shut down in 2011, until 2007 it was the most powerful particle ac ...
for which he received the 1939
Nobel Prize in Physics
The Nobel Prize in Physics is a yearly award given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for those who have made the most outstanding contributions for mankind in the field of physics. It is one of the five Nobel Prizes established by the will ...
The ALS was commissioned in March 1993, and the official dedication took place on the morning of October 22, 1993.
In the pursuit of outstanding science, the ALS has developed a strategic plan to ensure facility upgrades that will keep the ALS at the frontiers of science.
A new project called ALS-U is working to upgrade the ALS. Recent accelerator physics breakthroughs now enable the production of highly focused beams of soft x-ray light that are at least 100 times brighter than those of the existing ALS.
The storage ring will receive a number of new upgrades, as well as a new accumulator ring. The new ring will use powerful, compact magnets arranged in a dense, circular array called a multibend achromat (MBA) lattice. In combination with other improvements to the accelerator complex, the upgraded machine will produce bright, steady beams of high-energy light to probe matter with unprecedented detail.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Synchrotron radiation facilities
Laboratories in California
Buildings and structures in Berkeley, California
University and college laboratories in the United States
1993 establishments in California
Buildings and structures completed in 1993