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X-RAY RUNS: Apply for Beamtime

2017  Nov 1 - Dec 21

2018  Feb 7 - Apr 3
2018  Proposal/BTR deadline: 12/1/17

2018  Apr 11 - Jun 4
2018  Proposal/BTR deadline: 2/1/18

The 2017 CHESS Users' Meeting was held on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 6 - 7, 2017 in the Physical Sciences Building located on the Cornell University Ithaca campus. Like most years, the first day of the meeting covered facility-wide improvements and programs, a student paper prize, a poster session, tours and dinner banquet. The second day this year was special, however, hosting two science workshops as well as the annual meeting of the INCREASE organization.

Unlike most years, this year there are unusual external forces shaping the CHESS running schedule and planning for the CHESS future. As highlighted in a previous month’s eNews cover, CHESS Director Joel Brock discussed how CHESS is beginning to plan for another five years of operations starting in 2019, and how CHESS will transition from NSF being the steward to a partnership between NSF, other government agencies, and industry. Brock points out that this presents a rare opportunity to reorganize and do exciting things that we haven't been able to do in the past. He’s started a process of developing a funding model in which partner organizations provide financial support in exchange for both dedicated research capabilities and guaranteed x-ray beam time. We expect that the Users Executive Committee will be involved in the planning process. More news will come in future months.

The first science talk was given by the CHESS student paper prize winner, Mark Weidman (MIT) presented “Kinetics of the self-assembly of nanocrystal superlattices measured by real-time in situ X-ray scattering”. In the afternoon a poster session led to two prizes: Stephen Meisburger (Princeton) won the Best Technical poster with “Unmixing Enzyme Allostery”. Thomas Derrien (Cornell) was awarded the prize of Best Scientific poster with “Dynamics of DNA-Capped Nanoparticle Superlattice Assembly”.

 Poster session in atrium of Cornell Physical Sciences Building.

Two science workshops ran in parallel, covering new opportunities in biology and engineering sciences. The biology workshop “Emerging Frontiers in Biology using Synchrotron Radiation” covered two topics: 1) “Advances in Serial Synchrotron Crystallography”, organized by MacCHESS scientist Aaron Finke and 2) “Chemical and Structural Imaging in Biology”, organized by CHESS scientist Arthur Woll.

The structure-focused workshop used as motivation how the advent of high-speed x-ray detectors over the past decade, coupled to advances in the brightness of synchrotron radiation sources, is opening new ways to capture dynamics of proteins and living systems on relevant timescales and with varying degrees of avoiding radiation damage impact on data quality. This workshop discussed in detail the motions of biomolecules (proteins, nucleic acids, complexes) which occur as they perform their functions. “Motion” includes conformational changes, ranging from large domain “hinging” motions to relatively small loop motions (e.g. to allow and deny access to an active site); oligomerization changes; interaction with partner molecules.

The imaging-focused workshop was motivated by the fact that advanced, SR-based x-ray microscopies are finding increasing application in a broad array of fields, including biology, geology, and cultural heritage applications. This growth is driven by many factors – especially the routine availability of micron- and sub-micron-scale x-ray beams, novel detection schemes and detector technology, as well as new and growing user communities in a wide variety of application areas – from biology to cultural heritage. This session brought world leaders in synchrotron science and application areas to explore and identify the most exciting scientific and instrumentation targets for CHESS to pursue in the context of an upgrade. Particular areas of emphasis are: 1) applications in biology, especially plant sciences, 2) opportunities for x-ray microprobe work at high incident energy (30-90 keV), and 3) critical optics and detector technologies required to fully capitalize on these opportunities.

The engineering workshop “Emerging Frontiers in Engineering using Synchrotron Radiation” also covered two topics: 1) “Measuring and Modeling Damage Evolution” and 2) “Quantifying Stress using X-ray diffraction under Multiaxial Loading Conditions”. Both were organized by CHESS scientist Darren Pagan. The first focused on understanding the current state of the field regarding the ability to accurately model the evolution of damage (microscale voids and cracks which lead to material failure). To correctly model damage evolution, experimental data is necessary to calibrate and validate these predictive models. In this session, researchers presented current work modeling the evolution of damage at the microscale, an overview of a wide range of computed tomography capabilities, and discussed possibilities of combining small angle X-ray scattering measurements with X-ray diffraction measurements during in-situ processes.

The second session had presentations from experimentalists who have developed new capabilities to apply multiaxial loads to specimens during in-situ X-ray experiments. Currently, the majority of mechanical testing is performed by applying uniaxial loads to specimens, however, materials in service rarely experience these loading conditions creating disparities between expected and actual behavior. The presenters showed current work studying materials under multiaxial stress states along with a special focus on experimental equipment designed to make these experiments possible.

Also different from past meetings, this year both workshops had awards from the NSF Biology and Engineering divisions to help support the travel of participants. Those funds were well appreciated and impactful.

In addition to the above meeting and two workshops, this year CHESS is hosting a special workshop for the INCREASE organization. INCREASE is the Interdisciplinary Consortium for Research and Educational Access in Science and Engineering, an organization that promotes research and education at minority-serving institutions (MSIs) with a goal to increase the utilization of national research facilities, and for research education and training for members of groups underrepresented in science and engineering research, such as African-Americans, Hispanics, and women ( Supported by an additional award from the NSF Division of Materials Research (DMR), this workshop was integrated into the annual CHESS Users’ Meeting for the expressed reason to facilitate connecting MSI faculty to the CHESS facility users and in-house experts. Participants learned about NSF funding opportunities, particularly the Partnership for Research and Education in Materials (PREM) program. PREM is a program to enhance diversity in materials research and education by stimulating the development of formal, long-term, collaborative materials research and education partnerships between minority-serving institutions and the NSF DMR-supported groups, centers, and facilities.

Overall it was an extremely busy and successful meeting attended by many in the user community. A more complete report of the workshops will be published in the journal Synchrotron Radiation News in the coming months. Interested readers can find the speakers, presentations titles and abstracts still posted at the meeting website.


Submitted by: Ernest Fontes, CHESS, Cornell University