In This Issue
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The ALS Strategic Plan is a document that was developed in careful consultation with our users and advisory committees over several years. Recently, we have taken a renewed look at our Strategic Plan to ensure that it is both comprehensive and bold in meeting users’ needs. A draft of the updated Plan reflects input from senior ALS managers, the Science Advisory Committee (SAC), the Users’ Executive Committee (UEC), and ALS beamline scientists. The result of this fresh examination will soon be available online for your review and comments. If you are not yet on our email list or need to update your email address, please contact us at ALSNews@lbl.gov. This will ensure that you are notified when the Strategic Plan is available for viewing.
In the coming months, we are looking forward to sharing the revised Strategic Plan with the Department of Energy, and working with the DOE and other potential funding sources to identify the resources we will need to renew the ALS.
The geometric structure of liquid water has been investigated in detail by many techniques, but many details are still under debate, such as the actual number of hydrogen bonds (at a given time) between the various water molecules. Even less is known about the electronic structure. Since it is the intermittent bonding between water molecules that gives liquid water its peculiar characteristics, the electronic structure plays a crucial role in understanding the properties of the liquid state. Consequently, information essential for insight into chemical and biological processes in aqueous environments is lacking. To address this need, researchers from Germany and the U.S. have used soft x-ray spectroscopy at the ALS to gain detailed insight into the electronic structure of liquid water. Their spectra show a strong isotope and a weak temperature effect, and, for the first time, a splitting of the primary emission line in x-ray emission spectra. By making use of the internal “femtosecond clock” of the core-hole lifetime, a detailed picture of the electronic structure can be painted that involves fast dissociation processes of the probed water molecules. Read more…
Publications about this research: O. Fuchs, M. Zharnikov, L. Weinhardt, M. Blum, M. Weigand, Y. Zubavichus, M. Bär, F. Maier, J.D. Denlinger, C. Heske, M. Grunze, and E. Umbach, “Isotope and temperature effects in liquid water probed by x-ray absorption and resonant x-ray emission spectroscopy,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 027801 (2008) and Phys. Rev. Lett. 100, 249802 (2008).
During its lifetime, a cell spends a considerable fraction of its energy pumping sodium and calcium out and potassium in. This balancing process is similar to that found in the coils of the DNA double helix, where specific ions nestle and help stabilize this macromolecule. These are only two examples of selective ion interactions in biology; there are many others also vital to life. The existence of these interactions has been known since the early 20th century, when Franz Hofmeister observed that some salts (ionic compounds) aided the solution of proteins in egg, some caused proteins to destabilize and precipitate, and others ranged in activity between the two extremes. Hofmeister then ranked “salt-out” (destabilizing) ions versus “salt-in” (stabilizing) ions according to the magnitude of their effects (the “Hofmeister effects”). However, despite enormous effort, why certain interactions are preferred over others is not completely understood. Recently, a team of researchers from UC Berkeley used the model systems of acetate and formate (two simple carboxylic acids) with a series of cations to test predictions made in the literature for preferential interactions. Near-edge x-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) spectroscopy was used as this technique is highly sensitive to the chemical environments around a molecule. Experiments at Beamline 8.0.1 confirmed strengthening of the interaction between the cations and the carboxylate group in the following order: potassium, sodium, and lithium. Read more…
Publication about this research: J.S. Uejio, C.P. Schwartz, A.M. Duffin, W.S. Drisdell, R.C. Cohen, and R.J. Saykally, “Characterization of selective binding of alkali cations with carboxylate by x-ray absorption spectroscopy of liquid microjets,” PNAS 105, 6809 (2008).
2008 Users’ Meeting
We are very excited that California Demoractic Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey has accepted our invitation to speak at this year’s meeting. Representative Woolsey is a member of the House Committee on Science and Technology, and we are therefore particularly looking forward to her presentation. The complete agenda of the meeting, which includes a session to remember former ALS director Daniel Chemla, can be found at here. I would also like to draw your attention to the Town Hall Meeting (scheduled for the first afternoon of the meeting) during which members of ALS management as well as representatives from the American Physical Society will be present to answer your questions about the ALS.
Washington DC Visit
The Materials Research Society organized a Congressional Visits Day (CVD) on September 17, during which representatives from user facilities and universities across the U.S. had the opportunity to talk with their representatives and senators about the current funding situation for the physical sciences in the U.S. The CVDs are an invaluable opportunity for us to communicate the needs of the scientific community to policy makers. If you would like to know more about CVDs, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Become a UEC Member
Following the upcoming Users’ Meeting, you will have the opportunity to elect three new members to the UEC, who will replace the representatives whose terms will expire at the end of this year. Please email me if you are interested in serving on the UEC. We are especially interested in candidates from the area of structural and molecular biology, since this group is currently not represented. A list of the existing UEC members can be found at http://www.alsuec.org/index.html.
If you have recently published any ALS-related work in a scientific journal, conference proceedings, or book chapter; received a patent based on work done at the ALS; completed a Ph.D. thesis; received an award; or given a lecture please let us know as soon as possible so that your work can be reported to the DOE.
Remember, publications are a primary metric used by DOE in the funding process. If it’s on your CV and all or part of the work was done at the ALS, it should be in our database!
Simon Morton, Berkeley Center for Structural Biology optics and beamline scientist, was part of the team that commissioned the very first beamline on the Australian Synchrotron (and hence the first beamline in Australia) in March of last year. This year they invited him back for “wave 2,” the commissioning of the second set of three beamlines. Simon led the protein crystallography commissioning team that achieved first light on the facility’s second PX beamline on August 13, 2008.
For the user runs from August 20 to August 31: Beam reliability*: 88.4%; Completion**: 76.4%. Problems with the injection system (including multiple replacements of a thyratron tube for the booster injection kicker) resulted in significant loss in beam time.