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Energy Secretary Moniz Dedicates World's Brightest Synchrotron Light Source

dedication ceremony

Gathered at the dedication ceremony are, from left: U.S. Department of Energy Brookhaven Site Office Manager Frank Crescenzo, Stony Brook University President and Chair of Brookhaven Science Associates Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., U.S. Congressman Lee Zeldin, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, U.S. Congresswoman Kathleen Rice, NSLS-II Project Director Steven Dierker, and Brookhaven Laboratory Director Doon Gibbs.

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz dedicated Brookhaven Lab’s National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) on February 6, 2015. A $912-million DOE Office of Science User Facility, NSLS-II produces extremely bright beams of x-ray, ultraviolet, and infrared light to examine a wide range of materials including superconductors and catalysts, geological samples, and biological proteins to accelerate advances in energy, environmental science, and medicine. 
“The research performed at NSLS-II will probe the fundamental structure of novel materials and help drive the development of low-cost, low-carbon energy technologies, spark advances in environmental science, and spur medical breakthroughs,” said Secretary Moniz.

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2015-5545  |  INT/EXT  |  Media & Communications Office

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BNL's Top 2014 Scientific Achievements

From new insights into the building blocks of matter to advances in understanding batteries, superconductors, and a protein that could help fight cancer, 2014 was a year of stunning successes for Brookhaven Lab. Oh, and did we mention the opening of a brand new facility that will push the limits of discovery across the scientific spectrum?

1. National Synchrotron Light Source II Achieves ‘First Light’

first light

A crowd gathered on the experimental floor of NSLS-II to witness "first light," when the x-ray beam entered a beamline for the first time at the facility.

Opening a new era of scientific discovery at Brookhaven Lab, the brightest synchrotron light source in the world delivered its first x-ray beams on October 23, 2014. Soon researchers from around the world will start using the powerful x-rays produced by the NSLS-II to advance their research on everything from new energy storage materials to developing new drugs to fight disease. The seven initial experimental stations designed to receive x-rays from the half-mile-circumference electron storage ring at NSLS-II have received “first light” and the scientists running them will begin experiments this year.

2. Physicists Narrow Search for Solution to Proton Spin Puzzle


How the spins of the building blocks of matter add up: Measurements from RHIC's STAR and PHENIX experiments reveal that gluons (yellow corkscrews) contribute about as much as quarks (red, green, and blue) to the overall spin of a proton. But there is still a mystery to explain what accounts for the rest of the "missing" spin.

Results from experiments at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) revealed new insights about how quarks and gluons–the subatomic building blocks of protons–contribute to proton “spin.” The new precision measurements will help solve a mystery that has puzzled physicists since the 1980s, showing for the first time that gluons make a significant contribution to proton spin and that transient “sea quarks”–which form primarily when gluons split–also play a role. Pinpointing where spin comes from could yield new information about the mechanisms of the complex subatomic particle interactions within protons, the effects of spin on other properties, and perhaps even ways to control those properties for future, unforeseen applications. RHIC is the world’s only facility capable of colliding spin-polarized protons to perform these precision studies.

3. New Tracking Method Provides Details of Electrochemical Reactions in Electric Vehicle Battery Materials

2-D chemical mapping

In operando 2-D chemical mapping of a multi-particle lithium-iron-phosphate cathode during fast charging (top to bottom). The called-out close-up frame shows that as the sample charges, some regions become completely delithiated (green) while others remain completely lithiated (red). This inhomogeneity results in a lower overall battery capacity than can be attained with slower charging, where delithiation occurs more evenly throughout the electrode.

Using a new method to track the electrochemical reactions that take place in a common electric vehicle battery material, scientists gained new insight into why fast charging inhibits this material’s performance. The team used a combination of techniques to study the material under operating conditions–and at the nanometer scale–at the National Synchrotron Light Source. The resulting high-resolution images and electrochemical “fingerprint” show, pixel by pixel, where lithium ions remain in the material, where they’ve been removed, and other potentially interesting electrochemical details. The findings provide the first direct experimental evidence to support a particular model of the electrochemical reaction, and could inform battery makers’ efforts to optimize materials for faster-charging batteries with higher capacities.

4. Tracking the Transition of Early-Universe Quark Soup to Matter-as-We-Know-It

nuclear phase diagram

The STAR collaboration's exploration of the "nuclear phase diagram" shows signs of a sharp border—a first-order phase transition—between the hadrons that make up ordinary atomic nuclei and the quark-gluon plasma (QGP) of the early universe when the QGP is produced at relatively low energies/temperatures. The data may also suggest a possible critical point, where the type of transition changes from the abrupt, first-order kind to a continuous crossover at higher energies.

To figure out how the hot soup of subatomic particles that filled the early universe transformed into the ordinary matter of today’s world, nuclear physicists run the process in reverse at RHIC. They accelerate ordinary atomic nuclei to close to the speed of light, and smash these ions together to re-create matter at the extreme temperatures and densities that existed just after the Big Bang. In 2014, new analyses of the particles that emerge from the trillion-degree collision zone turned up interesting details about how the transition from primordial matter to atoms takes place. In particular, the RHIC STAR collaboration’s analysis over a very wide range of collision energies that can be created at this versatile facility suggests that the type of transition changes depending on the energy the particles have when they collide. Future experiments making use of recently installed detector components should help the physicists hone in on a “critical point” where that change of transition type takes place.

To learn about more of our 2014 breakthroughs, including scientists’ identifying a “safety valve” in cells that could lead to a potentially promising strategy for fighting certain kinds of cancers, visit:

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  • March 11 – Noon Recital. Pianist Di Wu and violinist Solomiya Ivakhiv will perform in their first joint appearance on the Berkner Hall stage. Noon, Berkner Hall Auditorium.
  • March 12 – Community Advisory Council meeting. 6:30 p.m., Berkner Hall, Room B.

*The events above are free and open to the public. Visitors 16 and older must bring a photo ID for access to Brookhaven Lab events.

2015-5544  |  INT/EXT  |  Media & Communications Office