The Basic Energy Sciences program supports the operation of the following national scientific user facilities:
National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS):
The NSLS at Brookhaven National Laboratory, commissioned in 1982, consists of two distinct electron storage rings. The x-ray storage ring is 170 meters in circumference and can accommodate 60 beamlines or experimental stations, and the vacuum-ultraviolet (VUV) storage ring can provide 25 additional beamlines around its circumference of 51 meters. Synchrotron light from the x-ray ring is used to determine the atomic structure of materials using diffraction, absorption, and imaging techniques. Experiments at the VUV ring help solve the atomic and electronic structure as well as the magnetic properties of a wide array of materials. These data are fundamentally important to virtually all of the physical and life sciences as well as providing immensely useful information for practical applications. NSLS will be replaced by a new light source, NSLS-II, which is currently under construction. NSLS-II will be optimized to deliver ultra-high brightness and flux and exceptional beam stability, enabling the study of material properties and functions down to a spatial resolution of 1 nm and energy resolution of 0.1 meV, with sensitivity sufficient to perform spectroscopy on a single atom.
Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL):
The SSRL at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory was built in 1974 to take and use for synchrotron studies the intense x-ray beams from the SPEAR storage ring that was originally built for particle. The facility is used by researchers from industry, government laboratories, and universities. These include astronomers, biologists, chemical engineers, chemists, electrical engineers, environmental scientists, geologists, materials scientists, and physicists. A research program is conducted at SSRL with emphasis in both the x-ray and ultraviolet regions of the spectrum. SSRL scientists are experts in photoemission studies of high-temperature superconductors and in x-ray scattering. The SPEAR 3 upgrade at SSRL provided major improvements that increase the brightness of the ring for all experimental stations.
Advanced Light Source (ALS):
The ALS at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, began operations in October 1993 as one of the world's brightest sources of high-quality, reliable vacuum-ultraviolet (VUV) light and long-wavelength (soft) x-rays for probing the electronic and magnetic structure of atoms, molecules, and solids, such as those for high-temperature superconductors. The high brightness and coherence of the ALS light are particularly suited for soft x-ray imaging of biological structures, environmental samples, polymers, magnetic nanostructures, and other inhomogeneous materials. Other uses of the ALS include holography, interferometry, and the study of molecules adsorbed on solid surfaces. The pulsed nature of the ALS light offers special opportunities for time resolved research, such as the dynamics of chemical reactions. Shorter wavelength x-rays are also used at structural biology experimental stations for x-ray crystallography and x-ray spectroscopy of proteins and other important biological macromolecules. The ALS is a growing facility with a lengthening portfolio of beamlines that has already been applied to make important discoveries in a wide variety of scientific disciplines.
Advanced Photon Source (APS):
The APS at Argonne National Laboratory is one of only three third-generation, hard x-ray synchrotron radiation light sources in the world. The 1,104-meter circumference facility—large enough to house a baseball park in its center—includes 34 bending magnets and 34 insertion devices, which generate a capacity of 68 beamlines for experimental research. Instruments on these beamlines attract researchers to study the structure and properties of materials in a variety of disciplines, including condensed matter physics, materials sciences, chemistry, geosciences, structural biology, medical imaging, and environmental sciences. The high-quality, reliable x-ray beams at the APS have already brought about new discoveries in materials structure.
Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS):
The LCLS at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) is the world’s first hard x-ray free electron laser facility and became operational in June 2010. This is a milestone for x-ray user facilities that advances the state-of-the-art from storage-ring-based third generation synchrotron light sources to a fourth generation Linac-based light source. The LCLS provides laser-like radiation in the x-ray region of the spectrum that is 10 billion times greater in peak power and peak brightness than any existing coherent x-ray light source. The SLAC linac provides high-current, low-emittance 5–15 GeV electron bunches at a 120 Hz repetition rate. A newly constructed long undulator bunches the electrons, leading to self-amplification of the emitted x-ray radiation, constituting the x-ray FEL.
- Spallation Neutron Source (SNS):
The SNS at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a next-generation spallation neutron source for neutron scattering that is currently the most powerful neutron source in the world. The SNS consists of a proton accelerator system that delivers short (microsecond) proton pulses to a target/moderator system where neutrons are produced by a process called spallation. The neutrons are delivered to specially designed, state-of-the-art instruments where they are used for a wide variety of investigations on the properties of materials in fields such as physics, chemistry, materials science, and biology. The SNS allows for measurements of greater sensitivity, higher speed, higher resolution, and in more complex sample environments than have been possible at other neutron facilities. The facility can accommodate 24 instruments. The SNS was designed to be upgraded to 3 MW of power and to accommodate a second target station and additional instruments in the future.
- High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR):
The HFIR at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a light-water cooled and moderated reactor that is the United States’ highest flux reactor-based neutron source. HFIR operates at 85 megawatts to provide state-of-the-art facilities for neutron scattering, materials irradiation, and neutron activation analysis and is the world's leading source of elements heavier than plutonium for research, medicine, and industrial applications. The neutron scattering instruments installed on the four horizontal beam tubes are used in fundamental studies of the properties of a very wide range of materials of interest to solid-state physicists, chemists, biologists, polymer scientists, metallurgists, and colloid scientists. Recently, a number of improvements at HFIR have increased its capabilities and include the installation of larger beam tubes and shutters, a high-performance liquid hydrogen cold source, and neutron scattering instrumentation. The installation of the cold source provides beams of cold neutrons for scattering research that are as bright as any in the world.
- Lujan Neutron Scattering Center:
The Lujan Neutron Scattering Center (Lujan Center) at Los Alamos National Laboratory is an intense pulsed neutrons source operating at a power level of 80 -100 kW. The Lujan Center features instruments for the measurement of atomic and magnetic structure, high-pressure and high-temperature diffraction, strain and texture, and surface reflectivity for the study of magnetic, polymer and biological materials. A single crystal machine for protein structure studies is also part of the instrument suite. The facility has a long history and extensive experience in handling actinide samples. The Lujan Center is part of the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE), which is comprised of a 800-MeV proton linear accelerator, a proton storage ring, and neutron production targets delivering neutrons to the Lujan Center and the Weapons Neutron Research facility for national security and civilian research.
The five NSRCs are DOE’s premier user centers for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale, serving as the basis for a national program that encompasses new science, new tools, and new computing capabilities. Each center has particular expertise and capabilities in selected theme areas, such as synthesis and characterization of nanomaterials; catalysis; theory, modeling and simulation; electronic materials; nanoscale photonics; soft and biological materials; imaging and spectroscopy; and nanoscale integration. The centers are housed in custom-designed laboratory buildings near one or more other major BES facilities for x-ray, neutron, or electron scattering and large scale computation which complement and leverage the capabilities of the NSRCs. These laboratories contain clean rooms, nanofabrication resources, one-of-a-kind signature instruments, and other instruments not generally available except at major user facilities. NSRC resources and capabilities are available to the international academic, industry and government research community for successfully peer-reviewed research projects.
- The Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) at Brookhaven National Laboratory is a premier user-oriented research center with the dual mission of: 1) providing open, state-of-the-art facilities, capabilities, and expertise for the nanoscience community; and 2) advancing and exploiting nanoscale materials and phenomena that help address the nation's energy challenges. CFN conducts energy-related research on electronic nanomaterials and soft and bio-nanomaterials, with emphasis on block co-polymer and DNA-mediated self-assembly of nanostructures. A third research thrust focuses on interface science and catalysis, particularly in-operando characterization of catalysts through ambient pressure x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, and through aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy and low energy electron microscopy. Synergies between CFN and BNL’s National Synchrotron Light Source II with its unprecedented brightness and resolution capabilities provide unique opportunities for transformational breakthroughs in nanoscience.
- The Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT) is a premier user-oriented center jointly administered by Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. CINT’s vision is to become a world-leading resource for developing the scientific principles governing design, performance, and integration of nanostructured materials into the micro and macroscale worlds. This differentiating nanomaterials integration focus involves experimental and theoretical exploration of behavior over multiple spatial and temporal length scales, development of novel synthesis and processing approaches, and an understanding of emergent behavior and new performance regimes. Expertise and advanced capabilities are in: nanoscale electronics and mechanics; theory, simulation and modeling; soft, biological and composite nanomaterials; nanophotonics and optical nanomaterials. This comprehensive portfolio of capabilities is complemented by CINT Discovery Platforms™, which are customized microfabricated structures and devices used for nanoscience research.
- The Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM) at Argonne National Laboratory is a premier user facility providing expertise, instrumentation, and infrastructure for interdisciplinary nanoscience and nanotechnology research. The CNM and the resources of the Electron Microscopy Center, a key resource for solving materials research problems using electron beam characterization methods, together form an integrated facility that is accessible to the scientific community. CNM supports basic research and development of advanced instrumentation that generates scientific insights, creates materials with unique functionality, and contributes significantly to energy-related research and development programs. The CNM/APS hard x-ray nanoprobe at Argonne's Advanced Photon Source (APS) beamline enables unprecedented views deep within nanomaterials. Materials in which the CNM specializes include: hybrid nanomaterials, oxide molecular beam epitaxy, nanocarbon materials, bio inspired hybrid materials, nanomechanical devices, and engineered nanoparticles.
- The Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a premier research center focusing on the complexity of electronic, ionic, and molecular behavior at the nanoscale. As a multi-disciplinary user facility it provides the nanoscience community with access to expertise and equipment in synthesis, theory/modeling/simulation, and functional and structural imaging. The CNMS acts as a gateway for the nanoscience community to the neutron science and large-scale computing capabilities at ORNL. Distinguishing strengths include precision synthesis of macromolecular nanomaterials and inorganic nanostructures; characterization of electronic, optical, and chemical functionalities, band excitation scanning probe microscopy, He-ion and scanning transmission electron microscopies, and atom probe tomography. Theoretical tools and expertise address emergent behavior in nanoscale systems. State-of-the-art cleanroom capabilities emphasize the integration of functionality in hard and soft materials.
- The Molecular Foundry (MF) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provides world-wide academic, government, and industry users with state-of-the-art expertise and world-class instrumentation to enhance their research in synthesis, characterization, and theory of materials at the nanoscale. The Foundry's scientific themes emphasize combinatorial synthesis of nanomaterials, multimodal in situ imaging and spectroscopy, functional interfaces in nanomaterials, and “single digit” nanofabrication and assembly. Its seven technical facilities focus on the science of novel inorganic, organic, and biological nanostructured building block design and synthesis, their integration into complex functional assemblies; and the development and use of novel theory and characterization tools for understanding and control at the nanoscale. These capabilities are enhanced through close ties to collocated user facilities, including the Advanced Light Source and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center.