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Research Enabled by NSLS-II

The National Synchrotron Light Source II is the newest and most highly optimized 3rd generation synchrotron facility in the world. NSLS-II will be able to accommodate at least 58 beamlines for a wide range of scientific research from physical sciences to biological and life science research that will take advantage of its unprecedented brightness, photon flux, and beam stability in infrared, soft and hard x-rays.


The study of biological systems is fundamental to our understanding of our place in the world, and our capacity to exploit this knowledge is fundamental to our health, our ability to produce food and fuel crops and our understanding of environmental change. Revealing atomic structures of biomolecules will allow researchers to understand:

  • What is the physics and chemistry of life
  • How do cells work, how do they interface with the environment, and how do single cells develop into multi-cellular organisms
  • How do genomes generate organismal robustness and diversity, and what is the molecular basis of evolution?
  • How are biological systems integrated from molecules to ecosystems?
image of lithiation

From lithium batteries in smart phones, to catalysts in cars, or even the availability of electrical power at home, devices for energy conversion and storage are an integral part of daily life. To understand and ultimately control the chemistry of energy conversion and storage for clean energy, NSLS-II will enable experiments that seek to find out:

  • What are the critical physical and chemical phenomena at nanoscale and mesoscale that govern the operation and the lifetime of energy storage devices, and how do we design better systems to achieve desired performance?
  • Can we understand and control the fundamental catalytic reactions to design and prepare improved catalysts and processes for energy conversion?
plant image

A wide range of characterization tools at NSLS-II will help scientists understand the complex geochemical, biogeochemical, and atmospheric processes in the Earth environment to better explain:

  • What are the roles of Earth system components (atmosphere, land, oceans, sea ice, and the biosphere) in determining climate?
  • How is the information stored in a genome translated into microbial, plant, and eco-system processes that influence biofuel production, climate feedbacks, and the natural cycling of carbon? What are the biological, geochemical, and physical forces that govern the behavior or Earth’s subsurface environment?


materials discovery image

Discovery of new materials and mastering materials behavior is essential to designing the technology of the future. NSLS-II will provide the most advanced materials characterization tools to enable rational materials synthesis, self-assembly, and processing to better understand materials and to answer these questions:

  • How do we control materials and processes at the level of electrons?
  • How do remarkable properties of matter emerge from complex correlations of atomic and electronic structures and how can we control these properties?
image of emergent material

Global needs for renewable energy sources and effective ways to store and transmit energy or information motivate physical science researchers to explore increasingly more complex materials—or material architectures with enhanced or emergent properties—to drive transformative technologies. Understanding and controlling materials synthesis and directed-assembly, materials behavior and degradation in real and extreme conditions helps researchers find out:

  • Can we master energy and information on the nanoscale to create new technologies with capabilities rivaling those of living systems?
  • How do we design and perfect atom- and energy-efficient synthesis of new forms of matter with tailored properties?
  • Can we manufacture mesoscale structures that posses unique functionality yielding faster, cheaper, higher performing, and longer lasting products, as well as products that have functionality that we have not yet imagined?