X-Ray Light Sources

Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Light Source (SSRL)

Menlo Park, California
Start of Operations
Number of Users
1,641 (FY 2016)

The SSRL produces intense x-rays as a resource for researchers to study our world at the atomic and molecular level, allowing for research and advances in energy production, environmental remediation, nanotechnology, new materials and medicine.


The Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), at SLAC National Accelerator LaboratoryExternal link, was built in 1974 to make use of the intense x-ray beams from the Stanford Positron Electron Asymmetric Ring (SPEAR) that was built for particle physics. The SPEAR 3 upgrade, completed in 2008, provided major improvements that increased the brightness of the ring for all experimental stations. In essence, the facility was completely revamped and upgraded. A research program is conducted at SSRL with emphasis in both the x-ray and ultraviolet regions of the spectrum. The facility is used by astronomers, biologists, chemical engineers, chemists, electrical engineers, environmental scientists, geologists, materials scientists, and physicists.


SSRL offers intense x-ray radiation that allows the development of new instrumentation over  such as x-ray microscopy and scientific applications in important areas of nanoscience.  More generally, it will become increasingly important in the future to create micro- or nano- sized x-ray beams with high-intensity, well defined polarization and time structure.  Such studies promise unique insight into materials such as the following: (1) materials under extreme conditions (e.g., pressure or high fields); (2) materials that exhibit nanoscale dynamics (i.e., respond to excitations on the second to picosecond time scale); (3) artificial nanostructures or those intrinsically inhomogeneous on the micro- and nanoscale; and (4) biological crystals which only exist on the microscale.  SSRL—known for outstanding user support and important contributions to science and instrumentation—is well poised to continue to facilitate scientific discovery, in ways that also train the future technical workforce.

Last modified: 6/19/2017 4:31:49 PM