Berkeley Lab

ATAP Researchers Reach Out at APS-DPP Meeting

At the annual meeting of the American Physical Society’s Division of Plasma Physics, Berkeley Lab researchers could be found not only in the technical sessions but also in the science-outreach expo booth.

The meeting was held this year in San Jose, California, inspiring Wim Leemans, Director of the Accelerator Technology and Applied Physics (ATAP) Division, to endorse the expo-booth effort. “With a number of our people giving papers at a relatively local conference, we had a highly leveraged and cost-effective opportunity to connect with future scientists and the community,” said Leemans. ATAP is home to most of the Laboratory’s work in areas relevant to the meeting, and some 15 presentations involved ATAP authors.

geddes_apsdppbooth_749x401y Cameron Geddes of ATAP’s BELLA Center uses spectrographic gratings to reveal the inner secrets of incandescent, compact fluorescent, and LED light bulbs. This is a gateway to discussion of the nature of light and then such facilities as the Advanced Light Source and free-electron lasers. The ever-popular demonstration is a staple of our educational outreach activities.

At the expo, which is a traditional feature of the meeting, universities, laboratories, and other organizations host booths to educate and engage the public about plasma physics and other sciences. The expo is open to the general public in the evening and has hands-on science experiments for middle- and high-school groups during the day. (Of course, attendees taking a break from the technical sessions enjoyed some “playtime” with the hands-on exhibits as well!)

ATAP Education and Outreach Coordinator Ina Reichel and BELLA Center researcher Cameron Geddes, chair of the local organizing committee for the APS-DPP meeting, were the principal booth volunteers for the November 3-4, 2016 expo. Conference attendees Qing Ji, Greg Penn, Peter Seidl, and Jean-Luc Vay took shifts in the booth or helped with setup and logistics. The Lab’s Workforce Development and Education Office provided some of the exhibit materials.

ATAP’s demonstrations explained the nature of light and used ordinary lamps to help understand extraordinary ones: particle accelerators that serve as sources of x-ray light with exquisite properties, enabling a broad array of science experiments. The booth also featured posters that illustrate how we use laser-induced plasmas to accelerate particles in unprecedentedly short distances, and on the new applications this may enable.