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June 21, 2001

Steven Dierker Named Chair of Brookhaven Lab's National Synchrotron Light Source Department

Upton, NY - Steven Dierker, a leader in synchrotron light research and administration, has been named chair of the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) Department. He succeeds Michael Hart, who has retired.

The NSLS is one of the world's most widely used scientific facilities. Each year, about 2,500 researchers from more than 400 universities and companies use its bright beams of x-rays, ultraviolet light and infrared light for research in such diverse fields as biology and physics, chemistry and geophysics, medicine and materials science. The facility has 160 employees and a current annual budget of about $35 million.

Dierker has three major goals as chair of the NSLS: Keep the facility strong; increase the number of researchers who use the facility; and pursue future technologies. To keep the NSLS vibrant, Dierker will be an advocate for developing new applications of synchrotron radiation, updating the facility's scientific capabilities, and improving the 20-year-old building's infrastructure. To attract new scientists to perform their experiments at the NSLS, he plans to form consortia of users. This reorganization, he says, will allow larger numbers of users to have easy and rapid access to a number of beam lines that provide different types of light for experiments, and to a variety of different techniques to solve their scientific problems.

Dierker believes that the NSLS must pursue new technologies for upgrading, or even replacing itself, in the future. "Currently, we are working on a promising next-generation research tool - a free electron laser," he explained. "This new tool combines the advantages of synchrotrons and lasers, and could open up new avenues of research."

In addition, Dierker said his department is pursuing studies in a new technology called photon-injected energy recovery linac, or PERL. "A PERL facility, which would have ultra-short x-ray pulses, would require creating new technology, but it would be a much brighter light source than the NSLS. PERL would be capable of imaging ultra-fast chemical dynamics over an extremely short time span, measured in trillionths of seconds," he explained.

PERL would require the use of a not-yet-invented superconducting linear accelerator, as well as other innovations. Dierker said, "This has become realistic because of the work of Brookhaven's Accelerator Test Facility, which is a world leader in devising new types of accelerators."

After earning B.S. degrees in both physics and electrical engineering in 1977 from Washington University, Dierker earned both an M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1978 and 1983, respectively. In 1983, he joined the Semiconductor and Chemical Physics Research Department at AT&T Bell Laboratories (now Lucent Technologies), and, in 1990, he joined the University of Michigan, where he has been Professor of Physics and Applied Physics.

Since 1992, Dierker has been a member of the NSLS Users Group, and he performed initial experiments at the NSLS to develop a novel synchrotron technique called x-ray photon correlation spectroscopy, which uses coherent, or highly ordered, synchrotron beams to study colloidal systems and polymers.

Since 1996, Dierker has been a member of the Advanced Photon Source (APS) Users Organization at Argonne National Laboratory, and he chaired that organization from 1998-2000. He also helped to plan the construction, design and operation of beam lines at the APS, with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.

NOTE TO LOCAL EDITORS:  Steven Dierker is a resident of Upton, NY.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies. Brookhaven also builds and operates major facilities available to university, industrial, and government scientists. The Laboratory is operated by Brookhaven Science Associates, a partnership led by Stony Brook University and Battelle, a nonprofit applied science and technology organization.