General Lab Information

Esther Tsai

Staff Scientist, Electronic Materials, Center for Functional Nanomaterials

Esther Tsai

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Center for Functional Nanomaterials
Bldg. 735, Room 2029
P.O. Box 5000
Upton, NY 11973-5000

(631) 344-6149

Esther’s research aims to develop new X-ray characterization methods and advanced analysis platforms for synchrotron X-ray scattering and imaging techniques. Machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) methods can be utilized for example to enhance spatial or spectral resolution, reveal chemical relevance, suggest optimal experimental configuration/procedures, as well as enable efficient human-computer interaction. As co-lead for the partner-user program between CFN and NSLS-II X-ray scattering beamlines, Esther provides support for users on small-angle and wide-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS/WAXS) experiments at beamlines 11-BM (CMS) and 12-ID (SMI). Contact her if you have any questions!

Expertise | Education | Appointments | Publications | Highlights | Awards | Video


Inverse problem, machine learning, X-ray imaging, X-ray scattering,  synchrotron beamline


  • Purdue University B.S. 2009 Electrical Engineering                
  • Purdue University Ph.D. 2014 Electrical and Computer Engineering

Professional Appointments

Research and Professional Experience

  • 2018 – present  Scientist, Center for Functional Nanomaterials, Brookhaven National Laboratory
  • 2015 – 2018    Postdoctoral Researcher, Swiss Light Source, Paul Scherrer Institute

Synergistic Activities

  • 2022 – present             Member, Proposal review panel for the Advanced Photon Source (APS)
  • 2020 – 2024                Member, Users' Executive Committee (UEC) for National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II)

Selected Publications

  • Potemkin D, Soto C, Li R, et al (2023) Virtual Scientific Companion for Synchrotron Beamlines: A Prototype
  • Wentz CM, Lachmayr KK, Tsai EHR, Sita LR (2023) Rapid Phase Transitions of Thermotropic Glycolipid Quasicrystal and Frank-Kasper Mesophases: A Mechanistic Rosetta Stone. Angewandte Chemie 135:.
  • Li W, Sidhik S, Traore B, et al (2021) Light-activated interlayer contraction in two-dimensional perovskites for high-efficiency solar cells. Nature Nanotechnology 17:45–52.
  • Tsai EHR, Xia Y, Fukuto M, Loo Y-L, Li R (2021) Grazing-incidence X-ray diffraction tomography for characterizing organic thin films. Journal of Applied Crystallography. doi: 10.1107/s1600576721007184
  • Guan Z, Tsai E, Huang X, et al (2019) PtychoNet: Fast and High Quality Phase Retrieval for Ptychography. Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI)
  • Tsai EHR, Marone F, Guizar-Sicairos M (2019) Gridrec-MS: an algorithm for multi-slice tomography. Optics Letters 44:2181. doi: 10.1364/ol.44.002181
  • Tsai EHR, Billaud J, Sanchez DF, Ihli J, Odstrcil M, Holler M, Grolimund D, Villevieille C, Guizar-Sicairos M (2019) Correlated X-Ray 3D Ptychography and Diffraction Microscopy Visualize Links between Morphology and Crystal Structure of Lithium-Rich Cathode Materials. iScience 11:356–365. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2018.12.028
  • Holler M, Guizar-Sicairos M, Tsai EHR, Dinapoli R, Müller E, Bunk O, Raabe J, Aeppli G (2017) High-resolution non-destructive three-dimensional imaging of integrated circuits. Nature 543:402–406. doi: 10.1038/nature21698
  • Tsai EHR, Usov I, Diaz A, Menzel A, Guizar-Sicairos M (2016) X-ray ptychography with extended depth of field. Optics Express 24:29089. doi: 10.1364/oe.24.029089
  • Tsai EHR, Diaz A, Menzel A, Guizar-Sicairos M (2016) X-ray ptychography using a distant analyzer. Optics Express 24:6441.

Research Highlights

[User Science] Scientists Observe Composite Superstructure Growth from Nanocrystals in Real Time (C Murray, E Marino, U Penn, 2023)

[User Science] First Long-Lived Perovskite Solar Cells Developed (L Loo, Princeton, 2022) 

[User Science] Solar Energy Collectors Grown From Seeds (A Mohite, Rice University, 2021) 

The Mystery of the Flexible Shell (2021)

[User Science] At the Interface of Organic Chemistry and Nanotechnology with Adam Braunschweig (CUNY, 2020) 

Machine Learning Accelerates High-Resolution X-ray Imaging (2020) 

CFN Staff Spotlight: Esther Tsai Brings Expertise in X-ray Imaging (2019)

Awards & Recognition

2023                DOE Early Career Award: Four Brookhaven Scientists Receive Early Career Research Awards (2023)

2021                Spotlight Award from the BNL's Recognition & Rewards Program

2009 – 2013    Ross Fellowship

Featured Video

  • CMS 20231228 demo

    March 18, 2024

(2023) Prototype of VISION at NSLS-II beamline CMS

Esther Tsai

Brookhaven National Laboratory

Center for Functional Nanomaterials
Bldg. 735, Room 2029
P.O. Box 5000
Upton, NY 11973-5000

(631) 344-6149

Esther's Links