July 1, 2005  


Summer Lights

By Monica Bobra

Forty-six students attended the fourth annual Stanford-Berkeley Summer School on Synchrotron Radiation, held at SLAC from June 13 to 17. The group of mostly graduate students hailed from around the world to learn about various synchrotron radiation applications by listening to fourteen lectures, participating in group problem-solving sessions and visiting both SSRL and the Advanced Light Source at LBNL.

Students in the lobby of Berkeley Lab, hanging out and discussing the different beam lines they visited.
(Photo courtesy of Jennifer Saltzman)

Anders Nilsson (ESRD), who directs the program along with Dave Attwood (LBNL), said the summer school grew out of their realization that the Bay Area had the largest concentration of synchrotron radiation facilities in the world. Nilsson added, “Students need to see the breadth of synchrotron radiation applications, to fields such as physics, chemistry, geoscience and material science.”

This year, students sat in on several experiments, such as one at ALS to study water formation on iron-oxide surfaces. The experiment consists of shooting synchrotron radiation through a vacuum chamber at a single hematite crystal enveloped in water vapor. The radiation knocks electrons from the metal, in an example of Einstein’s famous photoelectric effect, which allows scientists to observe how thin layers of water form on the sample. Studying the various experiments gave students a flavor of the many applications of synchrotron radiation.

About 60 percent of the summer school participants are graduate students, 30 percent are postdocs, and the remaining 10 percent is comprised of a mix of older scientists and undergraduates. They hail from various countries including Sweden, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Ireland and Canada — and all of them have a strong interest in synchrotron radiation, Nilsson said. This year alone, three of the summer students decided to change their research methods to include other synchrotron radiation spectroscopic techniques.

Both Attwood and Nilsson enjoy leading a small group of students to foster one-on-one teacher-student time. The directors conduct a two-hour feedback session on the last day of the program, telling each student how synchrotron radiation could benefit their current research. “Everybody is very positive about it,” Nilsson said.


The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Friday July 01, 2005 by Topher White