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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
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. More…




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


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

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.




Will WaldronThe opportunities and challenges of building the fourth generation of storage-ring-based light sources, such as Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source Upgrade (ALS-U), were the subject of the 6th International Diffraction Limited Storage Ring Workshop (DLSR 2018). The workshop, held October 29-31, 2018, at Berkeley Lab, was jointly organized by the ALS Division (Elke Arenholz and Ken Goldberg) and ATAP Division (Simon Leemann).

Synchrotron light facilities—electron storage rings that produce intense, laserlike x-ray beams—have become vital infrastructure for a broad range of sciences. As the science and technology of these rings has progressed, accelerator researchers are finding ways to build rings that approach the “diffraction limit,” with an electron beam so orderly that, for a given photon wavelength, both its emittance and that of the photon beam produced from it are almost zero.

DLSRs have become a hot topic in the synchrotron-radiation community; some 150 registered participants came from 25 labs around the world to discuss progress toward achieving truly diffraction-limited x-rays from high-brightness storage ring sources. The workshop emphasized both technical challenges and new research opportunities, and focused on the design, construction, commissioning, and operation of accelerator, beamline, and experimental systems that will be required.

The ultra-low electron beam emittance that will be available at these new and upgraded facilities will enable dramatic improvements in many areas of x-ray science, especially for experiments that directly require transversely coherent x-ray wavefronts. Worldwide, ten upgrades of existing machines and ten more new facilities are in some phase of study, R&D, or construction.

Berkeley Lab is on the front lines of this revolution. ALS-U, now in a design phase, exemplifies this push toward the fundamental, theoretical limits of what can be done. It will transform the ALS, which was among the bellwethers of the third generation of synchrotron light sources, into a fourth-generation source, ready for another 20 years of providing the beams needed for cutting-edge research.

See caption for names Scenes from the future of synchrotron light: At left, with Halloween close at hand, Elke Arenholz, deputy for operations at the ALS, worked a seasonal theme into the summary talk on Experimental Systems. Upper right: Chair Andreas Streun (Swiss Light Source, left) and speaker Riccardo Bartolini (Diamond Light Source, right) fielded a question. Lower right: At the poster session Christoph Quitmann (MAX IV, left) and Will Waldron (LBNL, right) discussed fast kickers, one of the technical challenges for ALS-U.

The workshop presented an opportunity to showcase efforts underway for ALS-U. Dave Robin gave an overview of the ALS-U Project in the Monday plenary session, while several speakers from the ALS and ATAP Divisions covered various aspects of ALS-U in their breakout presentations. They included Stefano De Santis of ATAP’s Berkeley Accelerator Controls and Instrumentation program (BACI), who presented an overview of fast kicker requirements for DLSRs and described progress made on fast stripline kicker development for injection in ALS-U.

This was just part of a diverse program. It had been seeded with topic suggestions from an international scientific program committee, which elicited many interesting contributions. The workshop presentations were well attended and prompted lively follow-up discussion during breakouts. Additional discussion sessions built into the schedule allowed for an exchange of thoughts on progress thus far as well as remaining challenges and possible solutions.

Much positive feedback was received for the workshop, which benefited greatly from solid support by Berkeley Lab’s Yeen Mankin, Jason Templer, Candy Lao, and Michele Pixa.

After a well-attended close-out came the announcement that the next DLSR Workshop would be held in the summer of 2020 in Lund, Sweden. It will be hosted by MAX IV, the first source to come online using the multibend achromat (MBA) lattice—the arrangement of magnets generally chosen for the fourth-generation rings being studied or planned, including ALS-U.





cover of QIS reportFusion and plasma sciences and the emerging field of quantum computing and communications could have a variety of mutual benefits, according to the recent report of the Fusion Energy Sciences Roundtable on Quantum Information Sciences (QIS).

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” covers what this new processing and communication paradigm might do for certain classes of computation-hungry problems in plasma sciences and fusion energy, as well as instrumentation and control. “Fusion for Quantum” discusses the use of fusion- and plasma-related techniques in making and simulating quantum information systems.

“QIS is an excellent opportunity to do things that were not previously feasible,” said Schenkel, who heads ATAP’s Fusion Sciences and Ion Beam Technology Program, and who has collaborated internationally to help develop an enabling technology for one approach to quantum computing. “Fusion and plasma researchers have an opportunity to both help build and benefit from this new computing paradigm.”

Berkeley Lab has a variety of efforts covering many aspects of QIS, most coordinated by Berkeley Quantum, an initiative that involves both the Lab and the adjacent UC, Berkeley campus. Schenkel is part of a Berkeley Lab team, led by the Physics Division’s Maurice Garcia-Sciveres, that is developing quantum sensors for a dark matter search. Gang Huang of ATAP and Engineering is contributing to QIS efforts as well, developing field-programmable gate array readouts for the quantum testbed effort of Irfan Siddiqi.

Click here to download the report from the DOE Office of Fusion Energy Sciences.





Help the Lab “Be Prepared” for Nuclear Science Day for Scouts

On Saturday, March 30, the Nuclear Science Division is again hosting the Nuclear Science Day for Scouts. It’s one of the most traditional and successful efforts in Berkeley Lab’s outreach and education mission. Giving some 180 young people a safe, positive and informative experience en route to a merit badge takes volunteers from across the Lab. You too could take part!

Particle accelerators, with their ongoing rich heritage of contributions to our knowledge of the atom, nucleus, and subatomic particles, are regarded as nuclear facilities for merit-badge purposes, and the Advanced Light Source is the focus of many of their experiences. Tour guides from ATAP who have with specific knowledge of the ALS are especially needed.

Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, and informed about the atom, Scouts get hands-on science experience at Nuclear Science Day, and Lab volunteers make it possible.

You don’t need to be a scientist or engineering and technology professional to contribute to Nuclear Science Day for Scouts. Logistics and chaperoning are key parts of a good tour experience, so come help the Scouts learn that people from all walks of life play many positions in “team science.”

To learn more…
• Visit the Nuclear Science Day for Scouts website. The site also has a link for Scout leaders to sign up their troop. (Note: If you’re involved in Scouting, signing up as a volunteer increases the likelihood that your troop will be among those accepted for this space-limited and significantly oversubscribed event.)
• You can also learn more through this Berkeley lab photostory and sign up for the event’s Twitter feed.
• Contact Ina Reichel, ATAP’s Education and Outreach Coordinator, for more information about volunteering.
• The signup form for volunteers can be found here.

Comment Period on Proposed Parental Leave Policy Ends March 6

The Lab is soliciting comments on a new Human Resources policy that would provide four weeks of paid parental leave for non-represented employees of the Lab to bond with a newborn or newly adopted child.

Comments can be made through March 6. More…





ATAP and Engineering Safety Day is Thursday, March 28

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. 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.
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