Meet Greg Fries, NSLS-II Accelerator Division Deputy Director for Projects

Fries plays a key role at NSLS-II, straddling the line between management and workers ‘in the field’ to ensure projects run smoothly and safely

Greg Fries is the deputy director for projects in the accelerator division at National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory. At NSLS-II, electrons are accelerated to nearly the speed of light and directed into a “storage ring,” where they emit x-rays as they circulate. The x-rays are used to study a huge range of materials and samples, from batteries to potential new pharmaceuticals.

What do you do at NSLS-II?

In this role, I wear many hats. I’m responsible for planning and coordinating the installation and major maintenance activities related to the accelerator. I work closely with the engineers and technicians, as to how to best manage the time that we have during machine shutdowns. I’m also involved in the construction of new beamlines; for example, right now I am responsible for the accelerator infrastructure for the building of the High Energy Engineering X-ray Scattering (HEX) beamline and the NSLS-II Experimental Tools II (NEXT-II) projects. Ultimately, I work with the accelerator division staff to deliver the insertion devices, front ends, and other beamline systems. In addition, I manage the overall staffing plan and budget for the accelerator division.

I am also the work control manager for NSLS-II, supporting both the accelerator and photon divisions. In this role, I help implement work planning and control processes, and train new work control coordinators. A lot of what I do is coordination among groups to make sure that everything runs smoothly.

Right now, I’m also working on the Advanced Light Source upgrade (ALS-U) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. I manage the budget and schedule for their power supplies and am fully integrated into their team. I’ve also been able to visit many of the other labs, particularly those who are going through upgrades, and be part of those processes. I’ve learned many lessons by being involved in the construction and maintenance of NSLS-II that I’ve been able to share with projects at other labs.

Read more on the BNL website

Image: Greg Fries stands in front of the main entrance of NSLS-II

Credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory

A very powerful method that illuminates all research fields

Photon Factory at KEK – #LightSourceSelfie

Science is ever-evolving. This is particularly true in the world of light sources. As science, technology and computing advances are made, the machines that enable all the amazing scientific research advance too.

Kentaro Harada is an Associate Professor in the Beam dynamics and Magnets Group at KEK’s Photon Factory in Japan. As an accelerator scientist, his research is centred around magnets, power supplies, beam diagnostics and the operation of accelerators. The goals of Kentaro and his colleagues are to improve present accelerators and to design accelerators that will drive the science of the future. In his insightful #LightSourceSelfie, Kentaro says, “I think research and engineering are like the arts. The expression of uniqueness is first motivation. My goal is to do what only I can do.”

Photon Factory Highlights 2020

The research highlights based on the Photon Factory (PF) users’ program during fiscal 2020 (April 2020 – March 2021), is now available on the web.

The sections covered include:

Materials Science

Chemical Science

Earth & Planetary Science

Life Science

Instrumentation & Techniques


Access these highlights via the Photon Factory website

Image: Highlights 2020 cover

Credit: Photon Factory, KEK

Beam diagnostics for future laser wakefield accelerators

For decades, particle accelerators have been getting bigger and bigger. In the meantime, ring accelerators with circumferences of many kilometres have reached a practical limit. Linear accelerators in the GHz range also require very long construction lengths. For some years now, however, an alternative is explored: “tabletop particle accelerators” based on the laser excitation of charge waves in plasmas (laser wakefield). Such compact particle accelerators would be particularly interesting for future accelerator-driven light sources, but are also being investigated for high-energy physics. A team from Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) has developed a method to precisely measure the cross-section of electron bunches accelerated in this way.  This brings applications of these new accelerator technologies for medicine and research closer.

The principle of laser wakefield accelerators: A high-power laser excites a charge wave in a plasma, which propagates at the speed of the laser pulse and pulls electrons behind it in its “wake”, thus accelerating them. Electron energies in the GeV range have been achievable with this technique for some time. However, the electron bunches produced in this way have so far been too small and too poorly focused to use the synchrotron radiation they emit, an intense, coherent light that is used for research in many different disciplines.

Read more on the HZB website

Image: Information on beam quality can be extracted via the interference patterns at different focal lengths and photon intensities.

Credit: ©