Berkeley Lab


— Network will provide more access to petawatt-class laser at Berkeley Lab’s BELLA Center


News Release Contact: Glenn Roberts Jr. (510) 486-5582 • October 30, 2018

To help foster the broad applicability of high-intensity lasers, the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley­ National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is a partner in a new research network called LaserNetUS.

The network will provide U.S. scientists increased access to the unique high-intensity laser facilities at the Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) Center and at eight other institutions: the University of Texas at Austin, Ohio State University, Colorado State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Rochester, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

The initiative is funded by DOE’s Fusion Energy Sciences program (FES) within the Office of Science and includes institutions nationwide operating high-intensity, ultra­fast lasers.

LaserNetUS includes the BELLA petawatt laser at Berkeley Lab’s Accelerator Technology and Applied Physics Division, as well as other leading high-power lasers in the U.S.

Expanding access to key capabilities

“High-intensity and ultrafast lasers have come to be essential tools in many of the sciences, and in engineering applications as well,” said James Symons, Berkeley Lab’s associate laboratory director for its Physical Sciences Area.

They have a broad range of uses 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 (being explored at the BELLA Center) or intense X-ray pulses to probe matter as it evolves on ultrafast timescales. Also, lasers and laser-based systems can cut materials precisely, generate intense neutron bursts to evaluate aging aircraft components, and potentially deliver tightly focused radiation therapy to tumors, among other uses.

The petawatt-class lasers of the LaserNetUS partners generate light with at least 1 million billion watts of power. A petawatt is nearly 100 times the output of all the world’s power plants, and yet these lasers achieve this threshold in the briefest of bursts. Using a technology called “chirped pulse amplification,” which was pioneered by two of the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in physics, these lasers fire off bursts of light shorter than a tenth of a trillionth of a second.

Maintaining U.S. leadership in a fast-moving global endeavor

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 that are currently in construction or have already been built are also overseas. The report’s authors recommended establishing a national network of laser facilities to emulate successful efforts in Europe. LaserNetUS was established 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 proposal review panel. This call will allow any researcher in the U.S. to get time on one of the high intensity lasers at the LaserNetUS host institutions.

Wim Leemans, director of Berkeley Lab’s Accelerator Technology and Applied Physics Division and of the BELLA Center, said, “This has the potential for huge leverage of existing and future investments in laser facilities. Researchers across the U.S. have great ideas for discovery science that depend on lasers, and LaserNetUS can connect them with beamtime at sources that meet their needs.”

The group held its first annual meeting at the University of Nebraska, home of the Extreme Light Lab, in August 2018, and will hold a nationwide call for user proposals to access the network’s facilities. The proposals will be peer-reviewed by an independent panel. This process will allow any researcher in the U.S. to request time on one of the high-intensity lasers at the LaserNetUS host institutions.


Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel Prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more, visit

DOE’s 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 the Office of Science website at


A message from Associate Laboratory Director James Symons

Part of two-page spread from Nobel Prize background document, showing cover and BELLA discussion
Click here
for a larger picture, or here for a PDF of the entire document
Dear colleagues,

This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics was shared by three pioneers in the science, technology, and applications of lasers. Two of the laureates — Gérard Mourou and his then doctoral student Donna Strickland — won for a breakthrough that (among its many other benefits) made our Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator Center possible.

Their Nobel-winning research brought “chirped pulse amplification,” a method of generating high-intensity, ultra-short pulses, to lasers. In a mere three pages, their 1985 paper “Compression of Amplified Chirped Optical Pulses” (Optics Communications 56, 3 (1 December 1985), pp. 219-221) sparked a revolution. The concept was implemented widely and almost immediately, ending a decade-long plateau in laser performance.

Today, CPA and follow-on developments are used near-universally at the peak-power frontier of very large research lasers, and also to increase the peak power of relatively small lasers for a wide variety of industrial and medical applications as well as research. (To take just one of many examples, some of you may be reading this with vision corrected by LASIK surgery, a technology made feasible for widespread use by CPA.)

We were immensely gratified to see laser-plasma acceleration, and specifically the multi-GeV electron beams obtained at the BELLA facility, mentioned as one of the examples of the benefits of CPA in the Nobel committee’s scientific background document. The BELLA Petawatt system is a 1 Hz repetition rate Ti:sapphire laser based on the CPA technique pioneered by Strickland and Mourou. In addition to the discussion, the Nobel backgrounder used a conceptual diagram of the LPA principle from the 2010 White Paper of the ICFA/ICUIL Joint Task Force on High Power Laser Technology for Accelerators —a figure that had originally appeared in an article by Wim Leemans and Eric Esarey in the March 2009 issue of Physics Today.

The white paper was produced by a joint task force, chaired by ATAP Division Director Wim Leemans, of the International Committee on Future Accelerators and International Committee on Ultra-high Intensity Lasers, and was based on a workshop series held first at GSI and then here at LBNL. The notional BELLA follow-on, which we call k-BELLA for its kilohertz repetition rate / kilowatt average power performance class, is an example of such a next-generation laser.

CPA is also one of the techniques used in an exciting collaborative project being conducted through our Berkeley Accelerator Controls and Instrumentation (BACI) Center: development of a laser system that uses “coherent combining” to achieve both high peak power and high average power from arrays of fiber-optic lasers.

Please join me in offering congratulations on the scientific stature and the widespread, ongoing societal impact of the research by Drs. Mourou and Strickland, as well as their co-laureate Dr. Arthur Ashkin. (He is a pioneer of laser trapping and the inventor of “optical tweezers” that use lasers to grasp tiny physical particles such as bacteria or viruses. His work had already figured into the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics for our former Lab director and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, who had worked with Ashkin at Bell Labs.) Their achievements have given us both game-changing tools and inspiration. This is a time for all of us to be proud of the important role we play as research pioneers and the resulting benefit to humankind.

James Symons
Associate Lab Director
Physical Sciences Area


Ryan Mandelbaum of the online magazine Gizmodo recently visited the Lab to learn more about BELLA (Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator), which uses chirped pulse amplification to create intense laser pulses. These devices could one day power tabletop particle accelerators for medical use, act as microscopes to image atoms, and push the frontiers of physics even further, writes Mandelbaum.

Click here to read his full article at


Cover picture of Fusion Energy Sciences Roundtable on Quantum Information Science
Fusion and plasma sciences and the emerging field of Quantum Information Sciences could have a variety of mutual benefits, according to the recent report of the Fusion Energy Sciences Roundtable on Quantum Information Sciences. The Roundtable, chaired by ATAP’s Thomas Schenkel and co-chaired by Bill Dorland of the University of Maryland, outlines three priority research opportunities in each of two broad categories: “Quantum for Fusion,” which covers what this new processing and communication paradigm might do for computation-hungry problems in plasma sciences and fusion energy, as well as instrumentation and control; and “Fusion for Quantum,” the use of fusion- and plasma-related techniques in making and simulating quantum information systems. Click here to download it from the DOE Office of Fusion Energy Sciences.



Advanced magnets are at the heart of high-energy colliders, and the facilities of tomorrow will require magnets that are even stronger as well as better and more cost-effective. Our magnet design and construction efforts are key to the luminosity upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider, and were praised in a Director’s Review at the lead laboratory for the US part of the project, Fermilab. This month we also invite you to learn about an exciting and important area of research: instrumentation for spotting and characterizing “quenches” of superconducting magnets.

The people who keep us at the forefront of science have received a number of honors recently, including the AAC Prize and a student-poster award at the Advanced Accelerator Concepts Workshop, as well as four LBNL Director’s Awards. I invite you to read on and learn about their achievements.

We close with exciting and eagerly anticipated news that we just received. ALS-U, the Advanced Light Source Upgrade project, has been granted Critical Decision 1 approval, the go-ahead for preliminary design of this major upgrade. ALS-U’s goals include a hundredfold increase in the brightness of the beams provided to the users. ATAP looks forward to helping meet the challenges of ALS-U, which will give this major DOE user facility for another 25 years at the forefront of science.


The US HL-LHC Accelerator Upgrade Project (AUP) underwent a Fermilab Director’s Review in July. The committee was “very impressed with the report of magnet manufacturing progress.”

The US HL-LHC AUP’s main task is to fabricate, test, and deliver all the niobium-three-tin (Nb3Sn) superconducting quadrupole magnets designated Q1 and Q3 needed by CERN for the High-Luminosity LHC upgrade. LBNL’s part of this review involved readiness for CD-3b — the start-of-production Critical Decision point in DOE’s project management formalisms — for the magnets designated MQFXA. Two out of the six Level 3 MQFXA tasks are managed by LBNL: Cable Fabrication, led by Ian Pong and Charlie Sanabria, and Structure Fabrication and Magnets Assembly, led by Soren Prestemon and Dan Cheng.

Five subcommittees covered MQXFA Magnets (chaired by George Biallas from Jefferson Lab, and including Herman ten Kate and Akira Yamamoto from CERN); Crab Cavities; Cost and Schedule; Environment, Health, Safety, and Quality; and Management. DOE Program Manager Simona Rolli and Federal Project Director Jerry Kao attended as observers.

Review comments praise magnet effort

In the close-out report, the MQXFA subcommittee noted that the progress of the project “is at the required level for this stage” and that the cooperation between laboratories has “matured masterfully” and shows “a truly collaborative spirit.”

This collaborative success is especially important to the superconducting quadrupole magnet effort. Each of three U.S. national laboratories—Fermilab, Brookhaven, and Berkeley Lab—brings its particular strengths to the challenges of building these 12-tesla magnets, which will represent the first use of high-field Nb3Sn in an operating accelerator.

Dan Cheng and Ahmet Pekedis Dan Cheng (foreground) and Ahmet Pekedis in Berkeley Lab’s superconducting-magnet assembly facility.

Particularly encouraging to the magnet team was the finding that “The committee is very impressed with the report of magnet manufacturing progress presented at the review.”

There were two MQXFA Magnets recommendations related to LBNL efforts: proceed to request DOE CD-2/3b approval after the testing of the second prototype, and start identifying the additional skilled and trained technical personnel needed as soon as possible.

A third recommendation was to resolve delays as soon as possible in superconductor strand procurement (a Fermilab task that had already received CD-3a approval). The delays were caused by Fermilab-supplier negotiation of contract legal issues related to the supplier’s terms and conditions. AUP project manager therefore requested and developed LBNL to become a second Nb3Sn strand procurement channel. In addition to mitigating risks, this strategy helps secure sufficient conductor to ensure adequate schedule float between the cabling task and coil winding (which is on the critical path). LBNL Procurement’s portfolio manager, Karen Lingua, along with the LBNL legal team, helped negotiate successfully to have the supplier’s terms and conditions modified, which consequently allowed both the Fermilab and LBNL procurement of Nb3Sn to go forward. LBNL’s Project Management Advisory Board (PMAB) cited this as a “best practice.”


new quench sensor
If part of a superconducting magnet warms up enough to become merely normal-conducting (say, because a portion of a cable moves slightly in response to stress or mechanical shock), a great deal of inductively stored energy (~7 megajoules at nominal operating current in an LHC dipole, for instance) must be gracefully dispersed. This means loss of the stored beam as well; its also considerable energy must be diverted into a beam-dump and the experimental program is of course interrupted. Detecting a quench as early as possible is important so that magnet-protection systems can be activated, and magnet designers also desire insight into just where in the magnet it occurred.

The Superconducting Magnet Program within ATAP, which is part of the multi-lab US Magnet Development Program, has been leading the way in developing novel quench diagnostics and bringing the existing ones to a new level of performance. Read on for highlights of the diagnostic techniques that are established or under development in the group.


ALS-U design conceptALS-U, a major upgrade to Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source, has received wonderful and eagerly anticipated news: Critical Decision 1 approval. The CD-1 milestone in the DOE project management process signifies the beginning of the preliminary design and engineering phase.

The announcement comes two years after CD-0, the Statement of Mission Need, which followed a Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee statement that ALS-U is “absolutely essential” to the light-source portfolio of DOE.

The technical goal is most ambitious: a “diffraction limited” light source, which requires a storage ring at the edge of what is achievable. ATAP will play key roles in achieving this ambition. “Because the ALS is a highly subscribed user facility, ALS-U will have to be a tour de force of project management as well as science and technology,” said ATAP Director Wim Leemans.

“We look forward to working with the ALS and Engineering Divisions to reprise the success that the ALS enjoyed when originally built,” added Leemans.

“This upgrade will make it possible for Berkeley Lab to be the leader in soft X-ray research for another 25 years, and for the ALS to remain at the center of this Laboratory for that time,” said Berkeley Lab Director Mike Witherell, quoted in the Berkeley Lab news release announcing the decision.

Steve Kevan, ALS Director, added, “The upgrade will transform the ALS. It will expand our scientific frontiers, enabling studies of materials and phenomena that are at the edge of our understanding today. And it will renew the ALS’s innovative spirit, attracting the best researchers from around the world to our facility to conduct their experiments in collaboration with our scientists.”

To learn more…
Read the CD-1 news release , and explore the ALS-U website.


ATAP’s Esarey Honored with Advanced Accelerator Concepts Prize

Eric Esarey, a senior scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Accelerator Technology and Applied Physics Division (ATAP), has been awarded the 2018 Advanced Accelerator Concepts Prize “for his pioneering theoretical research in the physics of laser-plasma accelerators.”

The prize, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the science and technology of advanced accelerator concepts, is awarded at the biennial Advanced Accelerator Concepts Workshop. Esarey joins a who’s who of researchers in cutting-edge approaches to particle acceleration, including ATAP Director Wim Leemans, who was honored in 2012.

Esarey came to Berkeley Lab 20 years ago, bringing plasma-theory expertise to the burgeoning effort in laser-plasma accelerators that is now known as the Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator Center, or BELLA. Previously he had worked for 12 years at the Naval Research Laboratory after earning his doctorate from MIT.

Theory and experiment have been partners in BELLA from the outset in the understanding of how intense lasers and plasmas interact, how an electron beam can “surf” the resulting electromagnetic wave, and how the promise of practical accelerators based on this principle might be fulfilled. Esarey serves as BELLA Center’s deputy, leading the theoretical and computational work that guides and supports the experimental efforts, and is also senior scientific advisor of ATAP Division.

Esarey was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) in 1996 for “seminal scientific contributions to the physics of intense laser-plasma interaction.” In 2010, the APS honored him with the John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research “for experiments and theory leading to the demonstration of high-quality electron beams from laser-plasma accelerators.”

AAC 2018 student-poster honors for BELLA’s Liona Fan-Chiang

BELLA Center and UC-Berkeley graduate student Liona Fan-Chiang was one of eight student poster honorees at the Advanced Accelerator Concepts Workshop, winning for “Planar Laser-Induced Fluorescence for Custom Laser Plasma Accelerator Targets.”

Liona Fan-Chiang
Click for larger version
Liona Fan-Chiang previewed her award-winning presentation when DOE’s General Accelerator R&D Program Comparative Review came to LBNL in August 2018. Leemans and staff scientist Hann-Shin Mao collaborated with her on the work described in the poster.

The win continues an emerging tradition: Kelly Swanson of BELLA and UCB, who like Fan-Chiang is one of Leemans’s students, won student-poster honors at AAC 2016, as did Manuel Kirchen, a BELLA visitor from the University of Hamburg and DESY.

Berkeley Lab’s fruitful association with AAC continues

Fan-Chiang’s presentation was part of a strong Berkeley Lab presence (28 participants, who among them gave 20 orals, including three invited plenaries; three working-group summaries; and six posters) at the Workshop.

In 2020, the AAC Workshop will be hosted by Berkeley Lab (which had co-organized the 2008 AAC, together with UC-Berkeley). Esarey will chair the 2020 event.

ATAP Achievers Recognized with Director’s Awards

At the upcoming annual Berkeley Lab Director’s Awards ceremony, four ATAP people will be recognized with the Berkeley Lab Citation: Qing Ji for scientific excellence, Don Syversrud for outstanding achievements across the 40-year career from which he just retired, and Ina Reichel and Tom Scarvie for outreach excellence as part of the tireless tour guide team at the Advanced Light Source.

Qing Ji

Qing Ji
“For versatile excellence in applications of ion sources and beam transport systems, together with a commitment to technology transfer and industrial partnership, and to diversity, equity, and inclusion for the modern-day “hidden figures” of physical sciences.”

Qing Ji’s career in applied physics has consistent themes under its topical diversity: comprehensive understanding of ion-beam and ion-source physics; collaborative work (often with private industry); and mastery of both experimental and computational techniques. Exemplifying the traditions and spirit of ATAP and LBNL by being both individually excellent and a team player, she has become a sought-after collaborator on difficult projects.

Most recently her career has taken her into fields aligned with ATAP’s goals in “bringing the accelerator to the application.” In laser-driven ion acceleration, which is at the edge of the state of the art in accelerator science, she plays a major role (particularly in the crucial area of beam transport). She also brings her beam-transport expertise to a potentially disruptive compact ion accelerator based on micro electromechanical systems (MEMS) technology, in an ARPA-E supported collaboration with Cornell University.

Ji has also been a tireless supporter of diversity, equity, and inclusion in a field where women are highly underrepresented and therefore have little peer support and sparse career role models. She presently sits on the Physical Sciences Area Workplace Life committee and serves as the Division’s appointee to the LBNL Women Scientists and Engineers Council, and has been doctoral-research advisor to three women students who have gone on to build successful scientific careers in their own right.

Don Syversrud

Don Syversrud
“In honor of 40 years of dedicated service to LBNL, supporting discovery science through performance and supervision of mechanical technology and related work, with excellent results under often challenging circumstances.”

Don Syversrud, mechanical engineering technical superintendent matrixed to ATAP, has spent most of his adult life thus far doing extraordinary things to support accelerator-based science.

A second-generation LBNL career employee, Syversrud has supported experimental facilities ranging from the Bevalac to BELLA. (For perspective: people not yet born when he began his career might now be fullfledged scientists in their own right.) The most recent of his many projects on behalf of ATAP—overseeing and helping perform mechanical installation of two new 100-terawatt laser systems at BELLA—was also in some ways his most difficult. It involved complicated inter-relations of equipment, such as lasers and optical beamlines, in a constrained physical setting, with a need to complete the task so that discovery science in a competitive field could get underway.

Across those 40 years, Don built a reputation for doing the most difficult things and doing them right. He understood electrical as well as mechanical technology and bridged the worlds of technicians and of engineers. Don went into retirement knowing that his tradition of excellence will be carried forward, as he made a point of being not only supervisor, but also mentor and role model, to a generation of young engineering technologists.

L-R: ALS beamline scientists Dula Parkinson and Christine Beavers;  ATAP Outreach and Education Coordinator Ina Reichel; ALS Operations Supervisor Tom Scarvie, also of ATAP; ALS Chemical Safety Specialist Doug Taube; and ALS Communications Director  Ashley White.
L-R: ALS beamline scientists Dula Parkinson and Christine Beavers; ATAP Outreach and Education Coordinator Ina Reichel; ALS Operations Supervisor Tom Scarvie, also of ATAP; ALS Chemical Safety Specialist Doug Taube; and ALS Communications Director Ashley White.

ALS Tour Guides
“For their dedication to outreach in support of high-quality educational programming through tours of the Advanced Light Source and the development of related educational content”

The Advanced Light Source, a Department of Energy user facility for synchrotron light, has been a showpiece of Berkeley Lab and a go-to destination for visitors throughout its 25-year history. Some 150 groups a year, ranging from elementary school science classes to VIPs, learn firsthand about this remarkable machine and the wide-ranging scientific uses of its beams. Giving them an experience equal to this opportunity takes people who deeply understand the facility and know how to convey their expertise and enthusiasm in terms non-scientists can understand.

The guides align their efforts with the nature and specific interests of the widely varied tour groups—and their demanding “day jobs”—in accommodating as many as 150 groups a year. Many perform additional outreach activities as well.

Two ATAP employees — Outreach and Education Coordinator Ina Reichel and ALS Operations Supervisor Tom Scarvie — were among the six people named for Outreach honors as ALS Tour Guides.

Jean-Luc Vay Named as APS Fellow

Jean-Luc Vay

Jean-Luc Vay, head of ATAP’s Accelerator Modeling Program, has joined the ranks of Fellows of the American Physical Society “for development of novel methods for simulating beams and plasmas and application of these methods to accelerator physics.” He joins 27 present and former members of ATAP and its predecessor organizations who have received this honor. Four other Berkeley Lab researchers also received the distinction this year.

After earning his doctorate in 1996 from the University of Paris, Vay came to LBNL as a postdoctoral researcher and was appointed as a career staff member in 2000. He received the 2013 US Particle Accelerator School Prize for Achievement in Accelerator Physics and Technology for original contributions to the development of novel methods for simulating particle beams, particularly the Lorentz boosted frame techniques, and for the successful application of these methods to multi-scale, multi-species problems. Vay also received the 2014 NERSC Award for Innovative Use of High Performance Computers for his work on boosted frame and novel spectral decomposition techniques.


Energizing DEI with ERGs

In the Labwide priority of improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (see “Planning 365 DEIs of Progress,” ATAP News, April 2018), Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are a key to success.

ERGs are associations of employees, organized around a primary dimension of diversity or inclusion, that have strategic initiatives, deliverables, and policy-related goals as stated annually in each ERG’s charter. ERGs allow employees of all levels to participate more directly in the Lab’s ongoing DEI initiatives, and assist Berkeley Lab in fully integrating DEI into our day-to-day business practices.
Group photos of African American Employee Resource Group and Women Scientists and Engineers Council
African American ERG (left) and Women Scientists and Engineers Council are among seven such groups working to implement the Lab’s commitment to DEI.

Berkeley Lab supports ERGs that are open to all employees and are formed around primary diversity dimensions (e.g., ethnicity or race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, or veteran status) or a specific focus of inclusion in the workplace. ERGs promote opportunities for professional growth and development, provide an opportunity for informal networking, and support the Lab’s vision and values.

With official recognition comes an annual budget for work toward each ERG’s goals (for instance, offering a training class, bringing in an outside speaker, or attending a conference). ERG members may meet “on the clock” rather than during non-work hours, as the meetings are regarded as committee meetings for official Lab business.

The ERGs thus far… and counting
●  The African American ERG aims to advance a diverse and inclusive work environment with a particular focus on African-American current and future employees.
●  The Disability Inclusion ERG, All Access, advocates for a more accessible laboratory in design, in spirit and in operation.
●  The purpose of gLoBaL (“LBL” inside of “global”) is to provide support and a sense of community for Berkeley Lab employees who have moved to the United States from another country.
●  The Lambda Alliance ERG strives to enhance the work environment at Berkeley Lab for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, and gender-nonconforming (LGBTQ+) employees and allies.
●  The purpose of the Latinxs and Native Americans (LANA) ERG is to advance a diverse and inclusive work environment for Latinx and Native American employees.
●  The Veterans ERG (VERG) is to improves the work environment at Berkeley Lab for veteran employees and job seekers.

Additionally, to address issues that affect the careers of women scientists and engineers, Berkeley Lab created the Women Scientists & Engineers Council (WSEC). This long-established organization was recently integrated into the ERG structure. It is made up of Division-appointed members (ATAP’s representative is Qing Ji) in addition to volunteers.

The social aspect of improving the workplace
ERGs are not just about committee meetings and strategic plans. ERGs can organize screenings of movies related to their group, participation in outside events (the Lambda Alliance ERG participated in this year’s San Francisco Pride Parade) or an after-work mixer to get to know each other and network informally.

All this happens because people who believe in their ERG’s mission invest their skills, effort, and goodwill. In most cases that means attending a monthly one-hour meeting, plus occasional “homework” (e.g., making arrangements for a movie screening) that people choose to take on. To explore our ERGs and learn how you can sign up for one of them, visit the Employee Resource Groups page at the Lab’s DEI website.

STEM Gives a Glimpse of Roots; Ina Reichel Featured

Diptych of Dr. Ina Reichel at 14 and now

Reichel is the latest in a series of women from Berkeley Lab and other Department of Energy facilities to be featured in a DOE twitter feed, #SheCanStem.

At age 14 (above left), Reichel was already a veteran of family holidays touring ruins in France and Italy, intending to study history and particularly Egyptology. Even then, though, she was interested in STEM subjects, getting high grades in science and math. During high school she refocused on electrical engineering, which seemed a richer source of good jobs than ancient Egyptian history. Waitlisted for a seat in an engineering program, she enrolled in her backup plan, physics, at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, and found her calling. After a PhD from Aachen based on work at CERN, she had a postdoctoral fellowship at SLAC, then moved to ATAP’s Center for Beam Physics (predecessor of the Berkeley Accelerator Controls and Instrumentation program). Now (among many endeavors) she furthers both K-12 outreach and DEI advancement in the workplace.


An Area-Spanning Safety Day

Scenes from Safety Day include Asmita Patel, Csaba Toth, and Wes Tabler
Scenes from Safety Day (l-r): Asmita Patel make one of the kickoff presentations; Csaba Toth gives unneeded paper a new lease on life in the recycling bin; Wes Tabler ensures property accountability and proper disposal of electronic waste.

On August 21, ATAP and the Engineering Division once again held their annual Safety Day, this time joined by Physics Division. A morning of cleanup under a theme that says it all — “Clean Labs, Clean Shops, Clean Offices — was followed by an afternoon of Quality Assurance and ES&H Team (QUEST) assesments and management walkthroughs. Some 145 action items that will be tracked through to completion were found in ATAP and Engineering spaces; common themes include emergency-preparedness signage and improved seismic bracing. Thanks to everyone for participating in this all-day, all-hands, all-hazards event… and in particular for using appropriate personal protective equipment and staying within our skill sets and physical limits, extending our perfect record for the safety of Safety Day.

One Of Our Most Dangerous Pieces of Equipment: The Automobile

Red car halfway over embankmentRecently a parked car rolled downhill, jumped a curb, and ended up partly over a retaining wall near Building 71. Fortunately the car was unoccupied and did not have the momentum to hit labs and offices. Nearby ATAP personnel, following our Integrated Safety Management protocol, contacted Protective Services, notified their supervisor, and helped ensure the safety of others. It’s a reminder of the importance of setting one’s parking brake (and keeping it in proper adjustment), and when possible “curbing” the wheels, when using parking spaces on a slope.

Be careful when driving (or walking) in areas adjacent to the Lab as well, especially in the teeming campus-perimeter area. Two recent accidents on Hearst Avenue along the north side of campus occurred just a few days apart. One involved a skateboarding student who could not stop for a red light on a steep hill and collided with a Lab shuttle bus. (Note that skateboarding, inline and roller skating, and scooter riding are prohibited on the Lab site.) The only severe injury was to his pride; unfortunately, in a separate incident with no LBNL involvement, a pedestrian was struck by a car and left in critical condition.

Vision is essential to traffic safety, especially at this time of year, when sun angles can cause windshield glare during the morning and evening commutes. Keeping windshields clean and sunglasses and visors at the ready can help.

Speed Limit 15 signAnd remember, the speed limit throughout the Lab site is nowhere higher than 15 miles per hour — lower, as posted, in some special situations. Going slower gives you shorter stopping distances and more time to see and react to trouble. Sometimes applied physics indicates backing off the accelerator!

Be Ready to Duck, Cover, and Hold On Thursday, October 18

Duck, Cover, and Hold On iconsWhere will you be at 10:18 on 10/18? May we suggest: just coming out from under your desk.

On Thursday October 18, at 10:15 a.m., Berkeley Lab will join over 13 million people worldwide in the annual Great Shake Out, the world’s largest earthquake drill.

When the announcement comes over the public address system, take Drop, Cover, and Hold On protective measures. (As anyone who has been through one knows, real earthquakes are self-announcing!) Continue taking shelter until the announcement that the simulated shaking has stopped. (This too will be unambiguous in a real quake; the shaking could last for as long as a few minutes.) Then we will evacuate to assembly areas until Building Emergency Teams announce the end of the drill, which should be no later than 11 a.m.

To be ready, pre-identify places in your usual areas that would offer protection as you Duck, Cover, and Hold On, and be familiar with exit routes and assembly area locations. Visit the ATAP emergency-preparedness page to learn more about readiness for the inevitable.

Mountain Lion on the Prowl

Picture of a mountain lionIt’s a fact, not just a scary urban-wildlands-interface legend, that one or more mountain lions (cougars) roam the Lab area. One was sighted on a recent evening near Building 88.

It’s a tribute to the environmental stewardship of Lab employees, and Californians generally, that animals (including a top predator like a mountain lion) can thrive among so many people — but wild creatures command respect. Here are some tips on how to reduce your risk of a mountain-lion encounter and what to do if you meet the big cat anyway.


Director’s Corner

A key component of ATAP’s mission is to contribute to the most demanding projects throughout the U.S. and worldwide accelerator-based research community. Among our most important contributions is a set of advanced superconducting magnets, which we are developing co-operatively with Fermilab and Brookhaven, for the High-Luminosity LHC. Meanwhile, leveraging his ATAP-based experience, John Corlett has taken on a Labwide role as deputy in the Project Management Office.

Our ability to contribute to projects is built on a strong foundation of basic research. Our Accelerator Modeling Program is particularly in the spotlight this month, simulating a promising new beam-measurement technique that had been pioneered by colleagues at Bern (and which we hope to test experimentally at BELLA Center), and hosting a workshop that brought together users and developers of the Berkeley Lab Accelerator Simulation Toolkit.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion is another priority, both for our Division and for the Laboratory. Join me in congratulating Qing Ji, honored with a Women @ The Lab award for her scientific achievements and also known for tireless work to advance DEI. We also are committed to teaching the next generation of accelerator scientists and technologists; among the latest achievements were a graduate course at UC-Berkeley taught by our Thomas Schenkel and Carl Schroeder, and a US Particle Article Accelerator School course on superconducting magnets by Soren Prestemon and Steve Gourlay.

Our most important commitment of all is to the safety and wellbeing of our workers, the community, and the environment. If you are mentoring students or supervising someone who does, please review the newly published best practices for ensuring their safety and instilling in them the Lab’s safety culture. And don’t forget that Tuesday, August 21 is this year’s all-hands Safety Day. I look forward to seeing you there for this annual hands-on investment in all the benefits of safe and organized labs, offices, and shops.

  — ATAP work on advanced quadrupole magnets praised in final design review


On June 15, 2018, a groundbreaking ceremony celebrated the start of civil engineering work for a major upgrade to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. When complete, the High-Luminosity LHC (HL-LHC) will produce five to seven times more proton-proton collisions than the currently operating LHC, powering new discoveries about our universe.

Superconducting magnet at Fermilab Superconducting magnets like this one are integral to a high-luminosity upgrade for CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. (Photo by Reidar Hahn, Fermilab)

The U.S. research was conducted via the LHC Accelerator Research Program, or LARP, which involves four U.S. Department of Energy laboratories: Berkeley Lab, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Now the research turns into construction of the new components.

Among the components contributed by the U.S. for the HL-LHC construction are superconducting quadrupole magnets that focus the beams into collision at four points around the 27-kilometer ring. In the HL-LHC, these focusing magnets must be more powerful to focus the stream of particles much tighter than in the LHC. A collaboration including Berkeley Lab, Fermilab, and Brookhaven Lab developed the basic technology for these new magnets through LARP. The final design was completed in collaboration with CERN for application in the HL-LHC upgrade.

Berkeley Lab’s Physics Division is also involved in testing next-generation components for detector upgrades needed for the HL-LHC.

To reach the very high magnetic field of 12 tesla, these magnets will be the first use of the high-field superconducting material known as “niobium-three-tin” (Nb3Sn) in an operating accelerator, noted Soren Prestemon, head of Berkeley Lab’s BCMT. He added, “This is a unique collaboration where expertise in all areas of magnet technology is shared among the participating laboratories, resulting in a very tightly interwoven team.”

Berkeley Lab’s contributions, through its Berkeley Center for Magnet Technology (BCMT), include 102 superconducting wire cables to be used in the magnets; the insulation of the cables; and the assembly of 25 4-meter-long quadrupole magnets designated (MQXFA) that will focus the LHC’s particle beams. The U.S. in total is delivering half of the quadrupole magnets for the upgrade, while CERN is completing the other half.

The labs’ combined efforts are coordinated through a DOE Office of Science-funded U.S. HL-LHC Accelerator Upgrade Project (AUP).

“Our contributions to the upgrade project exemplify one of Berkeley Lab’s strengths: co-operation with other laboratories,” said Associate Laboratory Director James Symons. “The U.S. contribution to the accelerator upgrade has been made possible by the very successful LARP collaboration, which developed the design concept over the past decade.”

Wim Leemans, director of the Accelerator Technology and Applied Physics (ATAP) Division, added, “These magnets show how contributions to projects grow from scientific and engineering leadership.” ATAP — a partner with the Engineering Division in the BCMT, and headquarters for the high-energy-physics-oriented U.S. Magnet Development Program — performs extensive R&D at all phases, from superconducting materials to design and construction of magnets.

Fermilab scientist Giorgio Apollinari, who leads the U.S. HL-LHC AUP, said, “This is a truly major milestone for the whole U.S. accelerator community. We now look forward with much anticipation to shipping the first components to CERN and seeing them operate as part of the world’s foremost particle collider.”

To learn more…

•  Visit the LBNL News Center for an article by Glenn Roberts, Jr., about the groundbreaking, from which this article was adapted. It includes a video about the HL-LHC.
•  View a related CERN press release.
•  Read an article about the HL-LHC quadrupole magnets in the April 2018 edition of ATAP News.

Berkeley Lab Contributions Praised at HL-LHC AUP Final Design Review

The US HL-LHC Accelerator Upgrade Project (AUP), whose main task is to fabricate, test, and deliver all the Nb3Sn quadrupole magnets needed by CERN, underwent a design review last month at Fermilab. One of the two major parts of the event was the final design review (FDR) for the superconducting quadrupole magnets. Two of the seven Level-3 tasks under MQXFA Magnet Fabrication are managed by LBNL: Cable Fabrication, led by Ian Pong and Charlie Sanabria, and Structure Fabrication and Magnets Assembly, led by Soren Prestemon and Dan Cheng.

The committee was chaired by George Biallas from Jefferson Laboratory; Akira Yamamoto from KEK and CERN, Michael Lamm from Fermilab, and Berkeley Lab retiree Steve Gourlay formed the Final Design Review subcommittee for the quadrupole magnets.

In their close-out report, the committee noted “the significant achievement of achieving accelerator quality magnets with Nb3Sn.” The report further commented that “Nb3Sn magnet technology has been demonstrated to be sound” and has matured to a point where it is “ready for implementation in the HL-LHC MQXFA magnets.”

Each of three U.S. national laboratories brings its particular strengths to the challenges of building these magnets. Regarding the interaction among the three labs, the committee remarked that “The collaboration appears to use the best project management and logistical methods in the US.” Particularly encouraging to LBNL was their statement that “The Cable and Insulation task, being the most mature, appears to be complete. It serves as an example for other task managers to follow.”

  — Research team aims to measure micron-sized beams at Berkeley Lab’s BELLA Center


From a news release by Glenn Roberts, Jr., LBNL Public Affairs

Composite image illustrating charge density monitor principles Composite image illustrating charge density monitor principles

The world’s cutting-edge particle accelerators are pushing the extremes in high-brightness beams and ultrashort pulses to explore matter in new ways. To optimize their performance — and to prepare for next-generation facilities that will push these extremes further — scientists have devised a new tool that can measure how bright these beams are, even for pulses that last only femtoseconds (quadrillionths of a second) or attoseconds (quintillionths of a second). Comparing 1 attosecond to 1 second is like comparing 1 second to 31.7 billion years.

This tool can also measure beam sizes to within a few tens of nanometers (billionths of a meter) — without disrupting experiments that rely on these beams.

The new tool, dubbed a “charge density monitor,” could also provide more precise measures of fundamental physics in high-energy and high-field beam experiments, and help guide R&D efforts that seek to shrink the size and cost of particle collider and accelerator facilities while ramping up their capabilities.

To learn more and see videos of the simulations, visit the Berkeley Lab News Center.


Inaugural BLAST Workshop Brings Users, Developers Together

The Berkeley Lab Accelerator Simulation Toolkit (BLAST) — a suite of “codes,” or computer programs, that have found a wide variety of uses — were the subject of a workshop May 7-9, 2018 at LBNL.

Team photo of BLAST Workshop participants
Some of the BLAST Workshop participants in front of the venue: Shyh Wang Hall, home of Berkeley Lab’s National Energy Research Supercomputing Center (NERSC).

The workshop, organized by ATAP’s Accelerator Modeling Program, attracted 67 participants representing 25 institutions, 10 countries, 7 universities, 4 U.S. national laboratories, and 3 private-sector companies, a reflection of the diverse uses (in accelerator and plasma physics and otherwise) of the BLAST codes. The participants included both users and developers, and the three-day program combined lectures and hands-on work.

  — Labwide leverage of accelerator-based project management expertise

ATAP’S John Corlett Becomes Lab Project Management Deputy

Longtime ATAP researcher and manager John Corlett, formerly senior team leader for Berkeley Lab’s contributions to the Linac Coherent Light Source-II project, has been appointed Deputy in the Lab’s Project Management Office.

Corlett examines an LCLS-II undulator in the Lab’s magnetic measurement facility

The announcement was made by Michael Brandt, the Laboratory’s Deputy Director for Operations, and is part of a still-evolving new level of emphasis on professional project management at the Lab.

Corlett is no stranger to either the frontiers of technology or the formalisms of modern project management. Most recently, he has led Berkeley Lab contributions to Linac Coherent Light Source II, a free-electron laser being built at SLAC by a multi-institution partnership, includes a total of 54 soft- and hard-X-ray FEL undulators; the technically demanding VHF electron gun and low-energy beamline for the injector source; and low-level RF controls. His previous roles had included leadership of ATAP’s Center for Beam Physics, and of research and initiatives related to free-electron lasers, as well as a term as deputy director of the division.

“This is an exciting and expanding area,” says Corlett, adding, “The Lab has a big portfolio of projects that are very important and visible. There’s a lot to learn, but I look forward to broadening my scope to apply what I’ve learned from accelerator projects throughout all our Areas and Divisions.”

Among the ways the office can help is assisting nascent projects in setting up management structures from the very beginning that will comply with DOE 413.3b requirements and will have a good match of schedules, budgets, and expectations. Assurance is another big part of the office’s responsibilities. The office can also inform crosscutting decisions at the Lab, such as aligning the types and amounts of support services with the upcoming needs of projects.

Corlett will report to Kem Robinson, head of the Project Management Office and, in his previous role as Engineering Division director, a leader in integrating modern project management methods into Laboratory projects.

“I’d like to congratulate John on this new role,” said ATAP Director Wim Leemans. “He has spent a quarter century learning how to deliver on major technical projects, and developed a skill set and mindset that the Lab needs more than ever in the DOE 413.3b era.”

ATAP Scientists Bring Accelerator Physics to UC-Berkeley Curriculum

Berkeley Lab’s unique connection with the adjacent University of California, Berkeley is one of the ways we work to provide advanced education regarding particle accelerators and beams.

In the Spring 2018 semester, Thomas Schenkel, ATAP’s Division Deputy for Technology and head of the Fusion Science & Ion Beam Technology Program, and Carl Schroeder, a senior scientist in BELLA Center, teamed up to teach a graduate class on particle accelerators in UC Berkeley’s Nuclear Engineering Department. (Similar courses had been taught previously by other ATAP staff — most recently by David Robin and Christoph Steier.)

Thomas Schenkel Carl Schroeder Thomas Schenkel (far left) and Carl Schroeder taught NE-282, “Charged Particle Source and Beam Technology.” Eighteen students took the class for credit, with five more auditing. Right: Escorted by ATAP Outreach and Education Coordinator and accelerator physicist Ina Reichel (in red shirt), the class toured Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source to get a personal view of an accelerator-based user facility. Nuclear Engineering class touring Advanced Light Source
Click for larger version

The class covered many uses of particle accelerators and gave an introduction to accelerator physics and beam dynamics. Thomas Schenkel covered all things ion-related, from ion sources, to beam transport, to the many uses of the beams and of ion-source-related technology: everything from charged-particle cancer therapy to ion traps for fundamental physics studies. Carl Schroeder focused on electrons, covering beam dynamics (both transverse and longitudinal) and advanced accelerators, including free-electron lasers such as LCLS-II and of course the laser-plasma accelerators being developed at BELLA Center.

Another venue for accelerator education: USPAS

Another way we help provide quality education in accelerator and beam physics is through the U.S. Particle Accelerator School (USPAS). Soren Prestemon, who heads the Berkeley Center for Magnet Technology and U.S. Magnet Development Program, and ATAP retiree Stephen Gourlay taught a one-week intensive short course on superconducting magnets in June 2018. At the next USPAS session (January 2019) Steier will team up with SLAC’s James Safranek and Xiaobiao Huang for a one-week course on beam-based diagnostics.

Their efforts are part of a tradition that goes back nearly to the beginning of USPAS. Some 60 people who were, had been, or would become employees of ATAP and its predecessor organizations have taught at USPAS, for a total of nearly 100 courses and lectures. The host universities offer undergraduate and graduate credit. Many of these courses are team-taught with colleagues from other institutions, building lasting connections throughout the accelerator community.


Qing Ji Among Women @ The Lab Honorees for 2018

Qing Ji in lab

Qing Ji inspecting setup for experiment in pulsed plasma dynamics (left) and being congratulated on her award by ATAP Director Wim Leemans at the Women @ The Lab ceremony (right).

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ATAP staff scientist Qing Ji is among the 16 LBNL staff members honored in the 2018 Women @ The Lab program. A July 9 ceremony sponsored by the Lab’s Women Scientists and Engineers Council (WSEC) and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Office celebrated their achievements and contributions.

Ion-beam and ion-source physics, collaborative work (often partnering with private industry), and mastery of both experimental and computational techniques have been running themes in her wide-ranging career. She began working in ATAP as a University of California, Berkeley graduate student and returned here after a postdoctoral appointment at Harvard University.

Her recent efforts have included commissioning a new ion source at the NDCX-II facility; contributing to development of an innovative ion accelerator whose disruptive potential made it an R&D 100 finalist even at a proof-of-concept stage; and serving on the startup team for BELLA-i, which aims to bring the benefits of laser-plasma accelerators to ion acceleration. She accomplished all this while helping to lead a Labwide effort to establish our path forward in thin-film capabilities, a vital area of research infrastructure.

ATAP’s Qing Ji (front row, second from left) was among 16 honorees at the July 9 Women @ The Lab ceremony. Sharing the stage were Laboratory Director Mike Witherell (third from right) and, representing the Women Scientists & Engineers Council Executive Committee, Esther Singer (far right), ATAP’s Ina Reichel (second from right), and Romy Chakraborty, who was also an honoree (front row, fourth from left).

Working toward the Labwide priority of improving our diversity, equity, and inclusion practices has been another motif of Qing Ji’s career. She chaired the ATAP Division’s Diversity in Recruiting Task Force — a committee convened in 2016 to improve the hiring practices of the Division — and presently serves on the Physical Sciences Area Workplace Life committee, while representing ATAP on the WSEC. Three women she mentored earned their PhDs and went on to scientific careers of their own.

She has progressed into research management as well, taking over as head of the Plasma Applications Group in the Fusion Science & Ion Beam Technology Program. Thomas Schenkel, head of that program and ATAP’s Division Deputy for Technology, speaks of how she “stepped into this demanding role unflinchingly, combining amazing drive with mastery of the science and technology.”


Workshop Distills Best Practices for Safe Students

Arun Persaud mentors student Grace Woods at one of our Fusion Science and Ion Beam Technology Program’s facilities

As undergraduate summer interns join our ongoing cohort of graduate students and postdocs, let’s be ever conscious of both their immediate safety and the example we are showing.

In January, LBNL and UC-Berkeley held a joint workshop on Mentoring of Students for Safe Work Practices. The workshop brought together 20 scientific staff members and environment, health, and safety professionals from the Lab and UCB who are known as successful mentors. They shared best practices and approaches that have led to positive outcomes in both specific tactics and overall strategy to ensure student safety performance.

Three major themes emerged:
•  Engagement is key.
•  As a mentor and within peer groups, it is crucial to establish a culture of openness.
•  Safety must be integrated into all aspects of the work and research.

This investment in safety will have long-term as well as immediate benefits. Immersing students in our overall safety culture — think-plan-do behavior, working within our training and approvals, and an observant concern for each other’s best interests — will get them off to the right start on the road to becoming independent researchers and, someday, mentors to their own students.

To learn more…

•  Read an in-depth version of this article, including a number of specific best practices.
•  Refer students and new employees to this ATAP EH&S page that is oriented toward new hires.

Reminder: Physical Sciences Safety Day is Tuesday, August 21

This all-hands, all-hazards, all-day event has a mission of “Clean Labs, Clean Shops, Clean Offices,” reflecting a primary emphasis on good housekeeping and identification of hazards in common areas, offices, labs, and shops. This year the Physics and Nuclear Engineering Divisions join ATAP and Engineering in this tradition. As the day draws closer, further details and helpful information will be added to the ATAP website. Meanwhile, please mark your calendars and plan on hands-on participation in this communal investment in safe and efficient work environments.