Because a large proportion of ALS experiments are “physical sciences” experiments, it’s useful to separate them into two categories — one focused on Materials Sciences, and this one, with a dual focus on AMO (atomic, molecular, and optical) physics and accelerator physics.
Light sources such as the ALS have opened up research frontiers that may hold the answers to fundamental questions about structure and dynamics in AMO physics. The advanced spectroscopies that have been developed here provide the ability to control and probe atomic and molecular processes with unprecedented precision. In particular, the spectral resolution, brightness, broad tunability, and polarization control generate novel avenues for the study of tailored states, inner-shell processes, and nonperturbative electron interactions. Driven by the high brightness of the ALS, a whole new world of vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) and soft x-ray physics has emerged through the development of combined techniques to excite, select, and probe atoms, molecules, and clusters.
“Accelerator physics” encompasses research generated by and for the ALS machinery itself (including not just the accelerator, but also the storage ring, bending magnets, insertion devices, beamlines and more). The ALS operating schedule includes ample time for the resident accelerator physicists to not only improve on beam delivery to users, but also to explore new modes of operation and envision the possibilities for a next-generation light source.