In this month’s issue we feature examples of the wide-ranging societal benefits of particle accelerator science and technology: cancer treatment, measuring carbon stored in soil, and the exciting new frontiers in the quest for fusion energy. The Division hosted an IAEA planning meeting on how accelerators can tailor materials for quantum computing.
A look back at the importance of the Bevatron and a look forward to the opportunities that plasma wakefield accelerators can open up in the future, and a glimpse of the next US Particle Accelerator School session, are also featured in this issue.
The IAEA meeting was the first large event we have hosted since the pandemic. As we welcome more of the ATAP team back to in-person work, resume business and personal travel, and otherwise find our way through the latest “next normal,” I’d like to urge everyone to take care of their physical and psychological well-being, and continue the kindness and understanding toward each other that has brought us through these difficult times so successfully.
A LASER-POWERED UPGRADE TO CANCER TREATMENT
—A new research venture pairs cutting-edge particle accelerator science and radiation therapy
After an article by Aliyah Kovner
March 18, 2022
Biologists and physicists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have teamed up to create new opportunities for cancer treatment using laser-generated proton beams.
The ongoing project seeks to adapt the nascent technology of laser-driven ion accelerators – which are as cool as they sound – to make a more effective type of radiation therapy more readily available to patients.
“Proton therapy centers are large, expensive facilities, so they are limited around the world,” said co-lead author Antoine Snijders, a cancer researcher and senior scientist in the Biological Sciences and Engineering (BSE) Division. “There is currently limited geographic distribution and access to proton therapy worldwide. The way to get broader access, and potentially lower costs, is to reduce the cost and footprint of these types of facilities. And that means we need more compact sources of ions for proton accelerators.”
The scientists are also investigating the potential benefit of using these accelerators to deliver proton beam radiation therapy at ultrahigh doses within extremely short exposure times – a technology called FLASH radiotherapy. Though the approach remains experimental for now, FLASH radiotherapy could change the landscape of radiation oncology. “If our work could also bring FLASH radiotherapy to patients, it could be the best of both worlds,” Snijders added.
Snijders and several colleagues in Berkeley Lab’s BSE Division are working with researchers at the Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) Center, home to one of the world’s most advanced laser-based accelerators. The mutually beneficial pairing gives BELLA scientists a real-world application around which to refine their experimental laser platform, and gives the biologists a chance to test how living tissue responds to laser-driven (LD) proton beams at FLASH dose rates.
The early findings have everyone excited. In a paper published in Scientific Reports, the team shared results from their proof-of-principle experiments on normal human cells and tumor cells. The work was the first to show that FLASH doses can be delivered by LD accelerators, and it demonstrated that these aptly named radiation bursts resulted in higher survival of normal cells compared with cancerous cells.
Why FLASH and why protons?
There are two main types of radiation therapy: photon-based and ion-based. Photon-based therapies use focused beams of electromagnetic radiation in the X-ray or gamma-ray frequency ranges to kill cancer cells within tumors. The downside is that photon-based therapy also damages the healthy tissue in front of and behind the tumor in the path of the beam. Accelerated ions like protons behave differently. They deposit a low amount of energy in matter they encounter at the beginning of their path and a very high burst at the end, right before stopping completely. This phenomenon allows scientists to plot precise beam paths that deliver large radiation doses to tumors with minimal damage to tissue in front and no damage to tissue behind.
As there are a variety of particles that can deliver radiation to tumors, there are also many different ways to parse out the energy. The hit-it-fast-and-hard paradigm of FLASH radiotherapy has tantalized radiobiologists since the 1960s, when lab-based experiments suggested that FLASH dose rates can kill cancer cells while sparing a larger proportion of healthy tissue than treatments with longer, lower energy doses. However, the approach is not yet widely approved.
It is challenging to generate precise and consistent FLASH radiotherapy dose rates, even with traditional accelerators. “How do you accurately deliver a dose if you’re delivering it in a nanosecond – a billionth of a second?” explained Snijders. “That’s the challenge, because something can go wrong way faster than we can correct it.”
Following advances in technology, a small number of animal trials have been conducted in the past few years, and a single human clinical test of FLASH radiotherapy in Europe has demonstrated effectiveness in eliminating cancerous skin lesions while sparing normal skin. But researchers still don’t understand the biological mechanisms behind the impressive observations. So, understandably, some oncologists are hesitant to try FLASH doses in humans until we know more.
According to team member Eleanor Blakely—a towering figure in radiobiology and physics, who began her work more than half a century ago and remains an active researcher—this caution comes from a self-awareness of the field’s “need for prudent caution in assessing both acute and long-term effects, and for compliance with radiation safety requirements prior to the administration of new radiation modalities to human patients,” she said. Doctors and researchers “are very torn because they don’t want to delay if this is really something so different that it could revolutionize a whole field of cancer treatment. And yet we don’t completely understand how it works, even today, for conventional radiotherapy that saves lives every day.”
The accelerator in the equation
Currently, both ion- and photon-beam radiation therapies administered at medical centers are powered by conventional radiofrequency accelerators, which speed charged particles through a straight or circular vacuum chamber using electromagnetic fields and strong magnets. The cyclotron (invented by Berkeley Lab’s founder), and the world’s largest and most powerful modern accelerator (the Large Hadron Collider at CERN) are both examples of radiofrequency accelerators.
“Laser-driven accelerators offer acceleration in much smaller spaces than conventional systems and produce short intense pulses that create new opportunities for medicine and other applications, in addition to their promise for investigating fundamental physics,” said Cameron Geddes, director of Berkeley Lab’s Accelerator Technology & Applied Physics Division, home of the BELLA Center.
Laser-driven proton accelerators work by pointing a high-powered laser at a thin foil, thereby generating a tiny region of plasma – a state of matter where atoms are stripped of their electrons – inside a vacuum chamber. “In that plasma, strong electric fields accelerate protons and ions within a distance of a few microns (millionths of a meter). For reference, the width of a human hair is a few dozen microns,” said author Lieselotte Obst-Huebl, a research scientist at the BELLA Center, Accelerator Technology & Applied Physics Division.
In contrast, radiofrequency accelerators require massive infrastructure and beam delivery systems to produce charged particles moving fast enough for radiation therapy. (Read more about how a laser-driven proton accelerator works)
The technology has a way to go before treatment centers will be able to purchase compact laser accelerators to power proton therapy. “It is still in its infancy, I would say, but the technology is advancing rapidly,” explained Kei Nakamura, the associate deputy director for experiments at the BELLA Center, and an author on the new paper. The BELLA Center was originally funded by, and the laser built for, DOE’s Office of High Energy Physics to develop electron accelerators, he said, and the work to build proton accelerators didn’t begin until 2015. The collaborative project began in 2018, when Blakely serendipitously connected with BELLA Center scientists. “Our purposes have aligned quite well,” said Nakamura. “We wanted to have an application to work on in the lab, and the medical application has a big impact for society, so we are happy to have this collaboration.”
As of now, the distance from the point where the laser strikes the foil, creating the proton beam, to the point of contact with the cells – contained in custom-built metal and mylar film culture chambers – is only two meters. But the system that generates the laser is quite large – it takes up an entire room in the BELLA Center. Fortunately, the laser system doesn’t have to be right next to the treatment area, which is a limitation of RF accelerators in medical settings.
According to Nakamura, research from the past two decades has proven that LD ion sources have the potential to be much more compact and lower cost than RF ion sources. The lasers at BELLA have shrunk over the past 15 years and the technology continues to improve day by day, he said.
Fresh off the success of their first study, funded by LDRD, the collaboration is already deep into phase two. The BELLA team is currently developing new targeting technology that will focus the laser to much higher intensities, in turn generating higher energy protons. The existing focusing system generates beams that are only powerful enough to deliver FLASH radiotherapy to cells cultured in very thin sheets. When this upgrade—known as iP2 and funded to be part of LaserNetUS by the Department of Energy’s Office of Fusion Energy Sciences—is completed, the higher ion beam energies will be powerful enough to penetrate deeper into living tissue. Snijders and Jian-Hua Mao, a senior scientist and co-author on the paper, will then assess the safety and therapeutic efficacy of the beam on animal models starting in an upcoming LaserNetUS run in an example of how the network is enabling new science across disciplines using high intensity lasers. They will test first on superficial tissue, then eventually on internal tumors.
“The work that we’re doing currently is fundamental to our understanding of the importance of FLASH radiotherapy effects at the physical, chemical, and biological levels,” said Blakely. “Here at Berkeley Lab, we have the capability to test all three levels, which can contribute a lot to the global effort to improve therapies.”
This article covers work funded by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program at Berkeley Lab using capabilities developed by the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science High Energy Physics. The iP2 upgrade is funded by the DOE’s Fusion Energy Sciences program. When completed, iP2 will be a part of LaserNetUS, a network of advanced laser science research facilities.
MEASURING SOIL CARBON WITHOUT GETTING YOUR HANDS DIRTY
—Scientists develop a new way to take a census of carbon in the ground under our feet – a crucial tool for managing climate change
Berkeley Lab news release by Adam Becker • March 31, 2022
Media contact: (510) 424-2436
Physicists and soil scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have teamed up to develop a new method for finding carbon stored in the soil by plants and microbes. Unlike all previous methods, this new technique makes it possible to see the carbon in the dirt without digging holes or taking soil samples, like an X-ray for the soil. This new method for measuring carbon pulled out of the air promises to be an important tool for fighting climate change and developing more ecologically friendly forms of agriculture.
“What this instrument really enables is repeated measurements over time,” said Arun Persaud, a Berkeley Lab physicist and one of the leaders of the team. “With our instrument, you can get a very accurate and fast measurement of the total carbon in an acre of land, without disturbing the soil or harming the organisms that live there.”
A plant transfers carbon into the soil as a natural part of its life cycle. Plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen (which we animals then breathe in). The carbon remains in the plant, used to build molecules and cells it needs to live. A large fraction of that carbon ultimately enters the soil through the plant’s roots. Microbes in the soil then take this carbon and turn it into organic matter that can persist for decades, centuries, or longer.
Plants and soil microbes play a key role in the Earth’s carbon cycle – a cycle that humans have drastically altered. Burning fossil fuels heats up the planet quickly. Human land use for agriculture has depleted organic matter in the soil, resulting in an enormous soil carbon deficit that also contributes to climate change.
Pulling large amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere is a vital component in virtually all plans to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius or less. This need is the impetus behind Berkeley Lab’s Carbon Negative Initiative, which aims to develop technologies to capture, sequester, and use carbon dioxide. Plants and microbes are experts on pulling carbon out of the atmosphere – they’ve been doing it for billions of years. But before we can harness them to help manage atmospheric carbon, we need to accurately measure how much carbon is already locked in the soil through plant-microbial interactions, or other management strategies. Unfortunately, existing techniques for testing the carbon content of the soil are quite destructive, and error-prone at large scales.
“We have a major limitation in understanding and quantifying how carbon enters and persists in soil because of the way that we measure it,” said Eoin Brodie, a Berkeley Lab scientist. “Typically we would take a soil core sample from a position in a field and bring it back to the lab. Then we’d basically burn it and measure the carbon that’s released. It’s extremely laborious and costly to do that, and you don’t even know how representative those cores are.”
Brodie is Deputy Director of Berkeley Lab’s Climate and Ecosystem Sciences Division and one of the leaders of the EcoSENSE Program, a component of the Biological & Environmental Program Integration Center (BioEPIC) currently in development. EcoSENSE aims to create suites of sensors to monitor the impacts of climate and weather on ecosystem function, and Brodie and his colleagues wanted to find a better way to measure carbon in the soil. The broad scientific expertise available at Berkeley Lab, and a timely call for proposals on below-ground sensor technologies from DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), led Brodie, Persaud, and their colleagues to team up on this project. “What it really took was communication across very different programs at Berkeley Lab,” said Brodie. “We became aware of this potentially useful technology in the Accelerator Technology & Applied Physics (ATAP) Division, and we joined forces.” Ultimately the cross-disciplinary team was awarded a grant from ARPA-E’s Rhizosphere Observations Optimizing Terrestrial Sequestration (ROOTS) program, which enabled this work.
The new method of measurement developed by the Berkeley Lab team eliminates the need to dig anything out of the ground at all. Instead, the as-yet-unnamed device scans the soil with a beam of neutrons. Then a detector senses the faint response of the carbon and other elements in the soil to the neutrons, allowing it to map the distribution of different elements within the soil to a resolution of about five centimeters. All this happens above the ground, with no holes, no cores, and no burning. “It’s like giving the soil an MRI,” said Persaud, who is a staff scientist in ATAP. “We get a three-dimensional picture of the soil and the carbon distribution in it, along with other elements like iron, silicon, oxygen, and aluminum, which are all important to understand the persistence of carbon in soil.”
“What really excites me about this neutron imaging approach is that it lets us effectively and accurately image the carbon distributions in soils at the scales that carbon accounting needs to happen at,” added Brodie. “And we can do it repeatedly over growing seasons, to see how it’s changing with different climates and land management practices. Eventually you could use this to identify what specific land management practices are more effectively drawing carbon down from the atmosphere and storing it in soil.”
“This new carbon sensing method is an example of thinking outside the box and bringing together researchers from diverse backgrounds, here physical sciences and earth science, to create new technology addressing the challenges of climate change,” said Cameron Geddes, director of ATAP Division.
Right now the project is just emerging from the lab, and Persaud, Brodie, and their colleagues are about to test it in real soils in an outdoor system soon. “We’re really excited to test this on the soil here at Berkeley Lab after the rainy season,” Persaud said.
“The next step is making this process field deployable and more automated, so that it can be incorporated onto things like combine harvesters and tractors, so that this becomes part of the sensing capabilities that you find in farms and across forests,” Brodie added. “There’s really huge, huge potential in this.”
The next phase of this research, focused on bringing the technology from lab to field, is being supported by a Labwide Strategic LDRD (Laboratory Directed Research and Development) project on negative-carbon-emission science and technology.
WHITE HOUSE, DOE, CAPITOL HILL LOOK FORWARD TO FUSION ENERGY
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy joined with the Department of Energy (DOE) for a Fusion Energy Summit on March 17 to set a bold decadal vision for commercial fusion energy. Fusion, the energy that powers the stars, is clean, inherently safe, and does not produce carbon emissions.
The meeting brought together policy leaders and experts from national laboratories, academic researchers, and the ever increasing number of private-sector companies to say that “the time is now” to move on fusion energy commercialization.
The Summit was followed by Fusion Day, with community leaders briefing Congressional and Senate staff. Later, a DOE Workshop on Fusion Energy Development via Public-Private Partnerships was sponsored by the Office of Science and hosted by the Office of the Undersecretary for Science and Innovation. The Workshop was held June 1-3 in Washington, DC.
Heady times for fusion R&D
Fusion energy has moved rapidly in recent years, with record-breaking results on both magnetic fusion (where hot matter is confined by strong magnetic fields) and inertial fusion (where matter is crushed to extreme densities by powerful lasers or other drivers) approaches in the past year. This has been paralleled by a multi-billion-dollar commercial investment in the past few years.
“Fusion has the potential to be a vastly scalable carbon-free source of energy, and the Laboratory is ready for important contributions to bring it to reality,” said Cameron Geddes, Director of the Accelerator Technology & Applied Physics (ATAP) Division at Berkeley Lab. Geddes was among the authors of a key fusion-strategy document published in 2021. Powering the Future: Fusion & Plasmas was published by the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC), a panel providing independent advice to the DOE Office of Science.
How Berkeley Lab can help make the dream of fusion energy a reality
ATAP—previously the Accelerator & Fusion Research Division—traces its fusion contributions back to the origins of the field in the late 1950s. Today, ATAP can contribute to both magnetic and inertial approaches in ways that range from plasma science to superconducting magnet development to advanced technology for driving fusion reactions. Fusion progress can draw upon capabilities from across the Lab, ranging from advanced materials and photon sources to nuclear science to leadership computing.
Superconducting magnets and cables underlie magnetic fusion approaches, including the upcoming International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project. To help make these machines practical, ATAP and Engineering Division expertise in superconducting materials, cables, and magnets has been parlayed into benefits for fusion power through collaborations with US ITER and (with the newfound private-sector interest in fusion energy) Commonwealth Fusion Systems and General Atomics. The program works with both the highly cryogenic traditional superconductors shown here and high-temperature superconductors.
A Department of Energy Basic Research Needs Workshop on inertial fusion energy (IFE), scheduled for June 21-23, 2022, will help lay out a path for the resurgent interest in this approach kindled by a record-breaking shot with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility laser.
ATAP’s Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) Center and Fusion Sciences and Ion Beam Technologies programs are leaders in an exciting field called high-energy density physics with laboratory plasmas (HEDP-LP), a field that a National Research Council report described as “the ‘X Games’ of contemporary science.” This field underlies the physics of IFE. This research also includes potential new laser-driven technologies for producing ion beams, useful for everything from IFE ignitor pulses to quantum computing hardware to biomedical research and cancer treatment. The BELLA lasers are part of LaserNetUS, a program organized and funded by the DOE Office of Fusion Energy Sciences to give researchers access to unique lasers important to these fields.
IFE will require efficient drivers such as high-average-power lasers, which can leverage technologies we are developing for kBELLA, the next-generation laser for accelerator experiments and potentially also new ion beam methods developed through ATAP research.
A synergy between BELLA Center, FSIBT, and our instrumentation programs also promises to be of great benefit to fusion energy: diagnostics of fusion systems using compact, precise sources of photons and of charged particles that are based on laser-plasma accelerators.
ATAP’s Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) Center is part of LaserNetUS, a program organized and funded by the DOE Office of Fusion Energy Sciences to give researchers access to unique lasers. These lasers are important for an exciting and fusion-relevant field called high-energy density physics with laboratory plasmas (HEDP-LP), a field that a National Research Council report described as “the ‘X Games’ of contemporary science.”
For decades, fusion research has gone hand in hand with the fastest computers and most advanced modeling techniques. Today, ATAP is a center for accelerator modeling, which has many synergies with fusion. ATAP’s Accelerator Modeling Program is part of the push toward the exascale era of computing, together with Berkeley Lab’s National Energy Research Supercomputing Center and allied mathematical and computer-science expertise. Exascale simulations can help with complex and important topics, such as the microphysics of both inertial and magnetic fusion energy.
Societal benefits far beyond the laboratory
The development of a diverse fusion science and technology workforce, and the potential of fusion in the quest for energy justice, were among the other strong themes of the Summit. “Diversity and equity are integral to how the Lab performs team science,” said Geddes, adding that “fusion has the potential to address pollution, climate change, and energy price issues, all of which have important social equity aspects.”
NEWS IN BRIEF
LPAs Take Center Stage in Latest Basics2Breakthroughs Video
Laser-driven plasma wakefield accelerators are small, but they pack a lot into a short length. In the latest video in Berkeley Lab’s Basics2Breakthroughs series, Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator Center research scientist Marlene Turner explains how they work, and how imparting high energy to particles in a small length might transform everything from physics research to applications like cancer therapy.
The Basics2Breakthroughs video series focuses on early career scientists discussing their research and what they hope for the future in that research. The brief videos span the diverse Berkeley Lab R&D portfolio.
ATAP Hosts IAEA Meeting on Beams and Qubits
ATAP recently hosted a meeting for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to discuss recent results from a coordinated research project that has been facilitated by the IAEA over the last four years. The Third Research Coordination Meeting on Ion Beam Induced Spatio-Temporal Structural Evolution of Materials: Accelerators for a New Technology Era” was held April 25-29, 2022 at Berkeley Lab.
The focus of the project is the development of qubits in silicon and diamond for applications ranging from quantum sensing to quantum computing. Particle accelerators and the control of materials properties with particle beams play a major role in the development of the quantum hardware needed for these applications.
Thomas Schenkel, head of ATAP’s Fusion Science & Ion Beam Technology Program and an active researcher in the field, has been involved with this community since the inception of this IAEA project back in 2016 and was asked to organize the in-person workshop. Originally intended for June 2020, the meeting had to be delayed by nearly two years due to the pandemic. It was held as a hybrid event, with some attendees in the Building 71 main conference room and others online.
After an introduction and overview by Asmita Patel, ATAP Deputy Division Director for Operations, Schenkel outlined efforts in quantum information science at Berkeley Lab and UC-Berkeley, including the Advanced Quantum Testbed, the Quantum Systems Accelerator, and the Berkeley quantum network testbed. He also highlighted research frontiers and Berkeley Lab facilities that help push QIS research forward.
Tours of facilities, including the Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) Center, the pulsed ion accelerator NDCX-II, and the Advanced Light Source (ALS), were featured later in the week, together with talks by scientists from UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab that highlighted the local research context.
“The in-person meeting helped us to make new connections and to strengthen very productive ongoing collaborations,” said Schenkel, adding that he has already published several papers with collaborators he had met in the course of this IAEA coordinated research project. More than 100 papers that have come from collaborations of members in the project.
“The meeting shows that Berkeley Lab is well positioned in the worldwide community that is applying accelerators to meet the challenges of of quantum information science,” said ATAP Division Director Cameron Geddes.
“It also served as an example of how to host a productive international meeting at this stage of the pandemic,” Schenkel noted, adding, “The ATAP Operations Team put forth a really great effort to give all the delegates a quality hybrid experience in the new normal.”
A report with summaries of key results, now in preparation, will be published in book form by Taylor & Francis/CRC Press.
New Video Highlights Preparations for ALS Upgrade
ATAP provides accelerator physics support to this user facility and is playing key roles in the ALS-U project, which will enable one of Berkeley Lab’s flagship user facilities to give another two decades or more of state-of-the-art service.
The main driver for the recent shutdown (January to early March) was preparing the storage-ring wall for the installation of the ALS-U accumulator ring, an additional accelerator that will reduce the size and spread of the electron beam and accumulate multiple batches or “injections” of electron bunches from the booster ring before transferring bunches to the storage ring. To learn more about these activities, read this article by Ina Reichel, ATAP’s Outreach and Education Coordinator and member of the ALS Communications team.
A Landmark Event for the Bevatron
After a story in the newsletter APS Physics
The Lab’s Bevatron site has been recognized by the American Physical Society (APS) for its historical contributions to physics. In a ceremony on Wednesday, May 11, a plaque was unveiled marking the Bevatron’s contributions to physics, including the discovery of the antiproton.
In its day, the Bevatron was the largest and highest-energy particle accelerator in the world. It was designed to accelerate protons to billions of electron volts. Just one year after its completion in 1954, Berkeley Lab and University of California, Berkeley physicists Emilio Segrè and Owen Chamberlain used the facility to confirm the existence of antimatter by producing anti-protons.
“The Bevatron is one of the iconic instruments in the history of nuclear and particle physics. It was the lens through which humanity saw fully a universe that contains anti-matter and the fact that at the fundamental level, there exists asymmetry in our cosmos,” said APS President Jim Gates.
That discovery, which was awarded the 1959 Nobel Prize in Physics, was a significant milestone in the new era of government-funded “Big Science.”
“The Bevatron site designation is a symbol of what teams of people from many fields of science, engineering, and operations can do when they work together across disciplinary boundaries to solve a problem — in this case, unlocking the mysteries of the atom,” said Berkeley Lab Director Mike Witherell. “It demonstrated the kind of big team science that evolved into the national laboratory system and led to many more discoveries and solutions to humankind’s most challenging problems over the decades. We are honored to have this contribution to scientific history recognized in this way.”
Even after being eclipsed at the energy frontier by a new generation of strong-focusing synchrotrons built elsewhere, the Bevatron remained scientifically productive and enjoyed a series of upgrades. In the 1970s, it was combined with the Super Heavy Ion Linear Accelerator to become the Bevalac. This combination gave rise to the “Bevalac era” in nuclear science, a field still being pushed forward at facilities such as the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. The Bevalac also hosted a thriving program in radiation biophysics and clinical trials in heavy-ion radiotherapy.
The Bevatron/Bevalac ended its service in 1993, and the Bevatron was demolished between 2009 and 2012. On the site of the former Bevatron now stands the 80,000 square foot Integrative Genomics Building (IGB) — home to the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI), the DOE Systems Biology Knowledgebase (KBase), and the National Microbiome Data Collaborative (NMDC).
On this site in 1955, a year after completion of the Bevatron, Chamberlain, Segrè, Wiegand, and Ypsilantis reported the discovery of the anti-proton. In the 1960s bubble chambers here revealed many new particles, evidence for SU(3) symmetry, now known to be the sign of the three lightest quarks. Later, Ghiorso conceived and Grunder built the Bevalac by merging the Bevatron and the SuperHILAC into the world’s first relativistic heavy-ion accelerator. It accelerated ions from protons to uranium, launching high-energy heavy-ion physics and clinical radiotherapy with heavy-ion beams.
To learn more…
- Visit Particle Accelerators at Berkeley Lab: Writing the Next Chapters of a 90-Year Story, part of Accelerator Week, climax of the Lab’s 90th anniversary celebrations.
- Watch the video Excellence in Accelerators, and for a deeper dive into where we came from and where we’re going, read the companion story.
- Stream or download a video of the dedication ceremony.
IN MEMORIAM: BRIAN KINCAID
Editor’s Note: Longtime ATAP scientist Brian Kincaid, a key figure in the development and commissioning of the Advanced Light Source, passed away January 1, 2022. This remembrance was published in the March 28 issue of ALS News.
Brian Kincaid, the first director of the Advanced Light Source, died on January 1, 2022. The ALS community sends our condolences to his family and honors the many contributions he made to the early years of our facility. A common thread underscores messages from Kincaid’s former colleagues, who all remember his liveliness and spirit.
Citing Kincaid’s brilliance and enthusiasm, former Berkeley Lab Director Chuck Shank said, “His contributions were key to the tremendous success of the light source.” Shank credited Kincaid with providing leadership in the transition from construction to an operating scientific facility—a period that can be difficult to navigate. As current ALS Director Steve Kevan said, “The first five years of every new facility is nearly always an adventure.” He added, “Brian was very much in the middle of that adventure during his time as ALS director.”
The adventure was reflected in former Deputy Division Director Ben Feinberg’s remembrances as well. Recalling how Kincaid took over from Jay Marx, who was project director during the construction of the ALS, Feinberg described how Kincaid set the pace early on—from April 1, 1993, the first official day of ALS operations. “Brian used his intellectual abilities and motivational skills to bring the construction project to a successful completion, to begin operations, and to continue building beamlines at a rapid pace to serve and expand the user community.”
The ALS was the first third-generation synchrotron radiation facility based primarily on using undulators as insertion devices, and expansion of the beamline portfolio was rooted in Kincaid’s deep understanding of undulator physics. “If I had any questions related to understanding the characteristics of undulators, my first choice was to go to Brian,” said former ALS Deputy Zahid Hussain. “He would get excited, giving a highly comprehensive explanation,” Hussain recalled. Kincaid’s knowledge of the field set a direction for work at the ALS. “Brian directed the completion of high-brightness soft x-ray beamlines,” said Hussain, “which enabled the ALS to demonstrate the high value of light sources for soft x-ray research.”
Kincaid’s vision of the ALS extended beyond soft x-rays, and he encouraged the wavelength extension to include both infrared and hard x-rays. Photon Sciences Development Deputy Alastair MacDowell noted the director’s support of the superbend concept, which was implemented after Kincaid retired and resulted in nine productive hard x-ray beamlines.
In the heady days of starting a new synchrotron facility, Kincaid led the ALS with vision and enthusiasm. “He was a maverick and liked competition,” MacDowell said. These qualities are as much a part of Kincaid’s legacy as the scientific program he led, and Feinberg also paid tribute to his personality as he remembered his colleague. “I enjoyed working with Brian over the first five years on ALS operations, and will miss his sharp wit and willingness to speak his mind at all times.”
This obituary is based on contributions from Ben Feinberg, Zahid Hussain, Steve Kevan, Alastair MacDowell, and Chuck Shank.
ALS construction site with Jay Marx, Ronald Yourd, Brian Kincaid, and Alan Jackson. (Credit: Marilee B. Bailey/Berkeley Lab)
INCLUSION, DIVERSITY, EQUITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY (IDEA)
Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Colleagues
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which recognizes the contributions and influence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States.
From state-of-the-art research and leadership to the behind-the-scenes support roles that make the science possible, people of API heritage are integral to ATAP and Berkeley Lab. Learn more about their contributions, and meet some of them through video stories they have shared, through the Asian Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group website.
IDEA in ATAP: Awareness, Actions, and Accountability
By Asmita Patel and Joe Chew
ATAP participates wholeheartedly in Berkeley Lab’s IDEA strategy to build a workplace where everyone feels welcome, provided with opportunity, and empowered to do their best. In the last few years, ATAP has moved purposefully toward these goals, starting with creating awareness of IDEA principles, then increasing actions related to IDEA goals with the intent of increasing accountability. These three key points—increasing awareness, increasing actions, and increasing accountability—are the core of ATAP’s IDEA strategy and will continue to grow and evolve over the next few years.
Here are some of the activities with which ATAP’s IDEA Committee spreads the message throughout the Division. The Laboratory’s IDEA strengths also include a wide variety of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs); ATAP personnel participate in several of them.
Building the workforce
ATAP’s IDEA Committee has taken several steps to ensure that we are recruiting and retaining top talent and taking steps to overcome any biases.
The numerous and varied points of discussion include research results as simple, yet subtle, as reviewing application materials in the morning rather than the afternoon. Representation on hiring and promotion committees is itself diverse in gender and culture.
Making awareness ubiquitous
A variety of strategies are in use in ATAP to improve our IDEA knowledge and keep it front of mind. Conversation starters include a series of cards based on the “50 Ways to Fight Bias” program, which are displayed in meeting rooms, among other venues.
Staff are encouraged to include One Minute for IDEA, modeled on the existing program One Minute for Safety, in meeting agendas. Examples of IDEA discussion at ATAP Program meetings, ATAP Leadership meetings, and All to All meetings include “‘An Inconvenient Truth’: Where, and Why, Are We Losing Women En Route to Science Careers,” by Brazilian condensed-matter physicist Márcia Barbosa.
Changchun Sun, staff scientist in ATAP and member of our Diversity Committee, discovered Barbosa’s video at the 2021 International Particle Accelerator Conference. The video has been discussed as part of the strategy of increasing awareness, increasing actions, and increasing accountability. Key messages from this video include the importance of equitable treatment, empathy, compassion, and most importantly, going from bystander to upstander.
Another example of discussion at various meetings in ATAP, including a recent All to All meeting, is webinar on “Puncturing Stereotypes And Their Impact On Identity,” by Stanford psychology professor Claude Steele. He coined the term “stereotype threat” and has researched this phenomenon extensively.
Steele gave a recorded presentation as part of the Science & Information Exchange, a service of the National Academy of Sciences. The presentation was publicized in ATAP’s IDEA campaigns by staff scientist Stefano de Santis, who is also a member of ATAP IDEA committee, as a necessary step in appreciating what others uniquely bring to our workplace and our lives.
Key messages from these discussions included acknowledging people for who they are, building trust by open communication, and acknowledging difficulties in relating to identities different than our own by acknowledging that stereotype behavior does exist. Understanding these behaviors is a step towards addressing the stereotype threat in society.
From this basis of, as the poet Robert Burns put it, “seeing ourselves as others see us,” we can go on to cut through the fog of our own assumptions and projections—stereotyping—and see others as they really are.
IDEA (particularly the concept of psychological safety) was a key part of the most recent ATAP-led Physical Sciences Area Safety Week. Both Pat Thomas and Asmita Patel have led Safety Week efforts for several years to increase awareness of safety principles. A key message is that anyone can stop work if they witness a safety related incident. This principle also holds true for IDEA. Anyone can be an upstander to promote psychological safety of colleagues and speak up for people who are unable to voice their concerns. For this reason, Thomas and Patel included in the agenda a seminar on “Going from Bystander to Upstander.” It was attended by 128 people and it was an excellent way to introduce this important topic to a wider audience.
ATAP also hosted a virtual division retreat with a focus on adaptive leadership, an emphasis on IDEA as an important aspect of our daily lives, a strategic planning exercise, and a look at the Lab’s stewardship culture. The retreat was facilitated by Aditi Chakravarty, Berkeley Lab’s Chief Diversity Officer.
Meetings that make everyone feel heard and empowered to contribute
There are also several well-known ways in which the voices of some can be co-opted, pushed to the side, or silenced outright during meetings. ATAP has taken a variety of measures to increase awareness of meeting dynamics, with special attention recently to virtual as well as in-person events.
One thing to be aware of, in meetings and other interactions, is microaggressions— “the death of a thousand cuts” for psychological safety. A effort that began with a Women’s Support and Empowerment Council (WSEC) survey on microaggressions proved particularly fruitful, opening our eyes to interruptions, “he-peating,” and “mansplaining.” ATAP’s Ina Reichel, Chair of the WSEC, was one of the leaders of the survey and analysis. The results and recommendations were presented and discussed at ATAP IDEA Committee meetings.
Based on the recommendations of the IDEA Committee, Ina Reichel and Asmita Patel held meetings with ATAP scientific programs to discuss the survey as part of increasing our understanding of microaggressions, and to discuss the importance of being an upstander for people.
Looking beyond the Laboratory
ATAP Division Director Cameron Geddes has helped lead the push for explicit IDEA representation in scientific-community planning efforts. A recent success story was the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics community planning process for fusion energy sciences.
This APS-DPP effort fed into the subsequent Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (FESAC) Long Range Plan, Powering the Future: Fusion & Plasmas, which has an appendix devoted to specific diversity, equity, inclusion, and workforce development.
The now-underway Snowmass process in high energy physics has a topical group, CommF3, devoted to diversity, inclusion, and equity. IDEA champions are working toward content in the upcoming Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5) report that is parallel to that of the FESAC Long Range Plan.
Both Cameron Geddes and Asmita Patel had an active role in the Community Engagement Frontier of Snowmass and contributed to the white paper submitted in March 2022.
Learning from the best throughout the community
We also seek out and employ resources from other institutions and from scholars in organizational behavior and leadership. Besides the several examples already discussed, a newsletter called Better Allies brings us valuable tips weekly, and the many other institutions with IDEA programs are a wellspring of useful information.
The path forward
As a result of all the IDEA-related activities to increase awareness, we have seen an increase in actions.
One example is a cohort of excellent and diverse graduate students and postdoctoral scholars in recent years. Several of these postdocs have accepted career staff positions.
As our journey continues and as we continue to move from awareness into action in IDEA, the final piece of the puzzle is accountability. Improving inclusivity, diversity, and equity is the right thing to do for each other, is good for business… and is a job responsibility that we are all expected to perform.
A new graphic that we can use in slides or on the Web sums up the virtuous circle of IDEA: increasing our awareness leads to increasing actions, whereupon, as we increase our accountability, we are seen to be moving in the right direction.
OUTREACH AND EDUCATION
Extensive ATAP Support for in USPAS Summer Session
ATAP’s long tradition of educating the next generation of accelerator scientists through the US Particle Accelerator School will be on display in the upcoming virtual summer session.
Tianhuan Luo of the Berkeley Accelerator Controls and Instrumentation Program will be a member of the instructional team for “Accelerator Physics.” Arun Persaud of the Fusion Science & Ion Beam Technology Program will help teach “Beam Physics with Intense Space Charge.” Paolo Ferracin, Maxim Marchevsky, and Soren Prestemon of the Superconducting Magnet Program will teach “Superconducting Accelerator Magnets,” together with CERN’s Ezio Todesco.
Alumni and associates of ATAP will also be prominently represented. “Beam Physics with Intense Space Charge” will be taught by Steve Lund, a professor at Michigan State University and Director of USPAS, and John Barnard of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; both were long associated with ATAP through the Heavy Ion Fusion Virtual National Laboratory. Kwang-Je Kim, formerly deputy head of our Center for Beam Physics and now professor of physics at the University of Chicago and a Distinguished Fellow of Argonne National Laboratory, will be an instructor for “Synchrotron Radiation and Free-Electron Lasers for Bright X-Rays.”
ATAP’s involvement with USPAS goes back to the early days of the school. Beginning with the symposium-style programs of the 1980s and including the Joint International Particle Accelerator School, more than 80 people who were, had been, or would become employees of ATAP and its predecessor organizations have taught at USPAS, for a total of more than 100 courses and lectures. As exemplified by the Summer 2022 curriculum, many of these courses are team-taught with colleagues from other institutions, building lasting connections throughout the accelerator community.
Follow ATAP on Social Media
Explaining our researchers’ latest achievements and amplifying the thoughts of others, social media have become important additions to ATAP’s communications strategy.
The potential of laser acceleration to improve cancer treatment, a nonintrusive neutron-based way to measure carbon in soil, a laser plasma acceleration explainer, and a reminder of how stress-relieving it can be to take a moment and appreciate the natural beauty all around us were just some of our recent postings.
PUBLICATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS
C.B. Schroeder, C. Benedetti, S.S. Bulanov, D. Terzani, E. Esarey, C.G.R. Geddes, “Beam dynamics challenges in linear colliders based on laser accelerator,” Journal of Instrumentation 17, P05011 (2022), https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-0221/17/05/P05011
S. Diederichs, C. Benedetti, E. Esarey, M. Th evenet, J. Osterhoff, C.B. Schroeder, “Stable electron beam propagation in a plasma column,” Physics of Plasmas 29, 043101 (2022), https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0087807
Advanced Light Source Accelerator Physics
M. Ehrlichman, T. Hellert, S.C. Leemann, G. Penn, C. Steier, C. Sun, M. Venturini, D. Wang, “Three-dipole kicker injection scheme for the Advanced Light Source upgrade accumulator ring,” Physical Review Accelerators and Beams 24, 120702, https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevAccelBeams.24.120702
S.C. Leemann, “Machine Learning-Based Beam Size Stabilization,” invited talk at the 14th International Conference on Synchrotron Radiation Instrumentation (SRI 2021), DESY, March 30, 2022; slides available at https://indico.desy.de/event/27430/contributions/119028/attachments/72754/93454/Machine%20Learning-Based%20Beam%20Size%20Stabilization.pdf or from LBNL at this address.
Fusion Science & Ion Beam Technology
Thomas Schenkel (LBNL); Walid Redjem (UC-Berkeley); Arun Persaud, Wei Liu, Peter Seidl, Ariel J. Amsellem (LBNL); Boubacar Kanté (UC Berkeley); Qing Ji (LBNL), “Exploration of Defect Dynamics and Color Center Qubit Synthesis with Pulsed Ion Beams,” Quantum Beam Science 6 (1), p. 13 (16 March 2022), https://doi.org/10.3390/qubs6010013
Caroline Egan, Ariel Amsellem, Daniel Klyde, Bernhard Ludewigt, Arun Persaud, “Center-of-Mass Corrections in Associated Particle Imaging,” submitted to a refereed journal, https://arxiv.org/abs/2204.06124
Grant Giesbrecht, Ariel Amsellem (LBNL); Timo Bauer (LBNL and Technische Universität Darmstadt); Brian Mak, Brian Wynne, Zhihao Qin, Arun Persaud (LBNL); “Hardware-Control: Instrument control and automation package,” Journal of Open Source Software 7 (72), p. 2688 (20 April 2022), https://doi.org/10.21105/joss.02688
T. Schenkel (speaker) and A. Persaud, “Carbon Tracking for Climate Resilience,” Conference on Innovations in Climate Resilience (Battelle, 29-30 March 2022). Talk without publication venue.
Walid Redjem (UC-Berkeley) et al., incl. Ariel J. Amsellem, Frances I. Allen , Gabriele Benndorf, Jianhui Bin, Stepan Bulanov, Eric Esarey, Leonard C. Feldman, Javier Ferrer Fernandez, Javier Garcia Lopez, Laura Geulig, Cameron R. Geddes, Hussein Hijazi, Qing Ji, Vsevolod Ivanov, Boubacar Kante, Anthony Gonsalves, Jan Meijer, Kei Nakamura, Arun Persaud, Ian Pong, Lieselotte Obst-Huebl, Peter A. Seidl, Jacopo Simoni, Carl Schroeder, Sven Steinke, Liang Z. Tan, Ralf Wunderlich, Brian Wynne, and Thomas Schenkel, “Defect engineering of silicon with ion pulses from laser acceleration,” submitted to refereed journal, published 25 March 2022 on https://arxiv.org/pdf/2203.13781.pdf
Bandstra, Mark; Persaud, Arun; Curtis, Joey; Chow, Chun Ho; Hellfeld, Daniel; Salathe, Marco; Vavrek, Jayson, DOE computer code “becquerel (bq) v0.4.0” (9/27/2021), https://doi.org/10.11578/dc.20211007.1, https://www.osti.gov/doecode/biblio/65403
SAFETY: THE BOTTOM LINE
Emergency Info: Take Steps to Prepare
Timely, accurate, and to-the-point information is pure gold in an emergency. Berkeley Lab Security and Emergency Services outlines quick, easy steps you can take right now:
- Sign up for LabAlert: Alerts go automatically to your Lab email but not your personal phone. Add your personal mobile device to be notified about emergencies on the Lab sites.
- Sign up for UC WarnMe: Alerts go to berkeley.edu email, but not your personal phone. If you do not have a UCB email account you can still sign up for notifications.
- Follow the Lab’s Twitter accounts at @BerkeleyLab and @LBNLstatus
- Bookmark the Lab’s status.lbl.com page to read updates for any ongoing incident.
- Add the Lab’s status number (800) 445-5830 to your mobile device in case you cannot reach a webpage.
Take Time to Appreciate Our Natural Beauty (From a Safe Distance)
As Californians, we rightfully take pride in the environmental consciousness that allows wildlife to flourish close to urban areas. The LBNL site is an attractive home for animals, and is adjacent to large areas of open space with various degrees of wildness. Keep an eye out for them when on foot (especially around dawn or dusk) and when driving… and help “Keep Me Wild” (even the adorable ones).
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