European Young Chemists’ Award for Sebastian Weber

In recognition of Sebastian’s PhD thesis on hard X-ray microscopy, tomography, and application of synchrotron radiation in catalysis research

Sebastian Weber, a recent PhD graduate at the Institute for Chemical Technology and Polymer Chemistry (ITCP) / Institute for Catalysis Research and Technology (IKFT) at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), was awarded the Gold Medal in the PhD category of the European Young Chemists‘ Award. The award is presented every two years during the EuChemS Chemistry Congress on behalf of the Società Chimica Italiana (SCI) and the European Chemical Society (EuChemS). The prize highlights excellent research from young / early stage researchers across all fields of chemistry and chemical sciences. During his PhD phase, Sebastian Weber studied materials used in heterogeneous catalysis with a broad range of spatially-resolved X-ray characterisation methods, in order to gain a deeper understanding of the structure and function of catalysts. The project made extensive use of synchrotron radiation, specifically X-ray microscopy and tomography as emerging methods in catalysis research. This success on the European level highlights the leading role which synchrotron science has to play in the study of matter.

Catalysis plays a crucial role in sustainable chemical production, chemical energy conversion and storage, among many others, and is a key technology area in synchrotron radiation research. During his PhD work at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Sebastian Weber studied catalysts for CO2 methanation using spatially-resolved characterisation tools including X-ray microscopy and tomography. These diverse X-ray imaging methods were exploited to study the 3D structure of catalytic materials over a range of length scales, addressing various levels of hierarchical structural features which are critical to understanding catalyst performance. This topic is a special focus of the Young Investigator Group of Dr. Thomas Sheppard at KIT, who supervised and secured funding for the project, within the wider group of Prof. Jan-Dierk Grunwaldt.

Only a handful of research groups worldwide are currently active in the field of X-ray microscopy applied to catalysis research, highlighting the emerging role of this vibrant research field. During his PhD work, Sebastian Weber in particular worked to develop applications of hard X-ray ptychography and ptychographic X-ray tomography (PXCT) to study catalyst pore structures, structural evolution under reaction conditions, and the effects of catalyst deactivation. These methods routinely reach spatial resolution below 50 nanometres (0.001 x diameter of a human hair), and have been applied so far on samples up to 50 micron in diameter (ca. the diameter of a human hair). The further development of ptychography holds excellent potential for catalysis and materials research, particularly in the age of fourth generation light sources with improved coherence and decreased source emittance. The project resulted in several high quality publications in leading chemistry and materials journals, reflecting the knowledge gained regarding 3D structure of catalysts, and the potential for development of improved catalysts in future.

Sebastian Weber recently completed his doctorate with the title “Revealing Porosity and Structure of Ni-based Catalysts for Dynamic CO2 Methanation with Hard X-rays”, earning a distinction from KIT. Now his work was further recognised by securing the Gold Medal of the European Young Chemists’ Award at PhD level. The award is presented every two years during the EuChemS Chemistry Congress on behalf of the Società Chimica Italiana (SCI) and the European Chemical Society (EuChemS). The prize highlights excellent research from young / early stage researchers across all fields of chemistry and chemical sciences, and is therefore a highly competitive prize. After a pre-selection phase based on scientific excellence, the six finalists each held a presentation at the EuChemS Chemistry Congress in Lisbon, Portugal. The award not only highlights the excellent contribution of Sebastian Weber to the field of chemical sciences, but promotes in front a broad audience the essential role of synchrotron radiation in delivering future insights and innovations across the field of natural sciences.

Related articles on this research can be found in the Diamond Annual Review 2021-2022, “X-ray ptychography investigates coking of solid catalysts in 3D”, p.66-67, and on the DESY website

Image: Award ceremony during the 8th EuChemS Chemistry Congress in Lisbon, Portugal, Sebastian Weber (KIT, left), Prof. Floris Rutjes (President of the European Chemical Society, middle) and Prof. Angela Agostiano (Chair of the EYCA Award Committee, right).

Graphics: EYCA

NSLS-II Researchers Win 2022 Microscopy Today Innovation Award

The team developed a set of bonded x-ray lenses to overcome a long-standing alignment issue, making nanometer resolution more accessible than ever before.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory received the 2022 Microscopy Today Innovation Award for their development of a system with bonded x-ray lenses that make nanoscale resolution more accessible than ever before. When the team at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), a DOE Office of Science user facility, tested the new lens system, they achieved a resolution down to approx. 10 nanometers.

“We need technologies of the future to tackle some of society’s biggest challenges — from microelectronics to tiny qubits for quantum computers to longer-lasting batteries,” said John Hill, NSLS-II Director. “However, to develop these new devices, researchers need to study materials at the nanoscale. And this where these new lenses really come into their own. They make focusing hard x-ray beams down to a few nanometers much easier than ever before. By using the very focused x-ray beams that these lenses produce, we can reveal the function, structure, and chemistry of next-generation materials on the nanoscale. This crucial breakthrough was only made possible through years of intense work by experts—who are world-leaders in their respective fields—working together. I am delighted that their work has been recognized by this award and very proud to have this new lens system at NSLS-II.”

Read more on the Brookhaven National Laboratory website

Image: The members of the development team in front of NSLS-II. From left to right: Yong Chu, Hanfei Yan, Weihe Xu, Wei Xu, Xiaojing Huang, Ming Lu, Natalie Bouet, Evgeny Nazaretski. Not pictured: Juan Zhou and Maxim Zalalutdinov.

NSRRC Outstanding Paper Award established to recognize distinguished research teams

The award ceremony for the 1st NSRRC Outstanding Paper Award was held on November 24, 2021. The research team led by Prof. Hao Ming Chen from National Taiwan University has earned unanimous recognition from the panel of experts and was awarded a trophy and a prize of TWD 300,000. At the ceremony, Dr. Chun-Jung Chen, the NSRRC Deputy Director, endorsed the team’s contribution and breakthroughs for the scientific innovations resulting from using NSRRC light sources.
The former NSRRC Director, Academician Chien-Ten Chen, received the Presidential Science Prize in 2017. He donated the prize, including the trophy and the award money, to the NSRRC, for the purpose of encouraging and rewarding international and domestic research teams to spur significant scientific innovations by using NSRRC synchrotron facilities.
Academician Chen is a renowned physicist who has dedicated himself to exploring science and building avant-garde instruments. He continues to excel in inventing high-resolution spectrometers, as well as developing soft X-ray experimental techniques and applications. Thanks to the full support from the Ministry of Science and Technology, Academician Chen was able to lead the whole NSRRC team to accomplish the construction of the Taiwan Photon Source, the most cutting-edge and the largest experimental facilities ever built in Taiwan. The team’s efforts have not only enhanced Taiwan’s international academic status and the competitiveness of scientific research, but will also facilitate science and technology that makes a positive impact on improving human life and well-being.
NSRRC, entrusted with the mission of succeeding Academician Chen’s pursuit for the ultimate of science, installed the solar panels at the current site, and also established the NSRRC Outstanding Paper Award in 2021. To supplement the wonderful donation from Academician Chen, the NSRRC will continue to fund the prize with the revenue from the solar panels. This award presented by Academician Chen will motivate and inspire more research teams to uncover the truth in the universe and solve the global challenges using synchrotron radiation.
This year’s recipient, Prof. Hao Ming Chen’s team was recognized for their research on the development of in-situ techniques for chemical reactions, which was granted long-term support by the Ministry of Science and Technology. In particular, they reported that an iron catalyst with activity equaling or exceeding that of the precious metals by measurements of synchrotron techniques. The stabilization of dispersed single iron ions in the +3 oxidation state was shown to be key. Their findings on this novel catalyst were unprecedented and could significantly reduce the cost of catalysts. The research results were published in the world’s leading journal, Science, in 2019.

Read more on the NSRRC website

NSLS-II scientist named DOE Office of Science Distinguished Fellow

Scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have garnered two out of five “Distinguished Scientists Fellow” awards announced today by the DOE’s Office of Science.

Theoretical physicist Sally Dawson, a world-leader in calculations aimed at describing the properties of the Higgs boson, and José Rodriguez, a renowned chemist exploring and developing catalysts for energy-related reactions, will each receive $1 million in funding over three years to pursue new research objectives within their respective fields. (…)

José Rodriguez (NSLS-II)

For discoveries of the atomic basis of surface catalysis for the synthesis of sustainable fuels, and for significantly advancing in-situ methods of investigation using synchrotron light sources.”

Rodriguez will devote his funding to the development and construction of new tools for performing extremely rapid, time-resolved measurements to track the reaction mechanisms of catalytic processes as they occur under variable conditions—like those encountered during real-world reactions important to energy applications. These include processes on metal-oxide catalysts frequently used in the production of clean fuels and other “green” chemicals through hydrogenation of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, or the conversion of methane to hydrogen.

“At a microscopic level, the structure of a catalyst and the chemical environment around the active sites—where chemical bonds are broken and reformed as reactants transform into new products—change as a function of time, thus determining the reaction mechanism,” said Rodriguez. “We can learn a lot about the nature of the active sites under steady-state conditions, with no variations in temperature, pressure, and reaction rate. But to really understand the details of the reaction mechanism, we need ways to track what happens under transient or variable conditions. This funding will allow us to build new instrumentation that works with existing capabilities so we can study catalysts under variable conditions—and use what we learn to improve their performance.”

>Read more on the NSLS-II website

Godehard Wüstefeld receives the Horst Klein Research Prize

The physicist Dr. Godehard Wüstefeld was awarded the Horst Klein Research Prize at the annual conference of the German Physical Society.

The award recognizes his outstanding scientific achievements in accelerator physics in the development of BESSY II and BESSY VSR.
Over the last thirty years, Dr. Godehard Wüstefeld has made decisive contributions to the further development of storage-ring-based synchrotron radiation sources. Thanks to its innovative concepts, the performance and application areas of storage rings have been consistently expanded. Wüstefeld participated in the development of BESSY II and the Metrology Light Source and implemented several innovations there.

>Read more on the BESSY II at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin website

Image: Dr. Godehard Wüstefeld was awarded the Horst Klein Research Prize.
Credit: DPG

Award for a pioneer in synchrotron techniques and tools

Zahid Hussain is honored with the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award during a surprise ceremony.

Zahid Hussain, a longtime scientist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), has always been more focused on achievements than accolades, though his lists run long in both categories.

His fingerprints are on many of the instruments and scientific milestones at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS), which produces many types of light, from infrared to X-rays, for a range of experiments carried out by visiting scientists from around the world. He has pioneered soft X-ray techniques and instrumentation at the ALS that have been widely adopted by the global scientific community.

>Read more on the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Berkeley Lab

Innovative educational programs at Canadian Light Source

NSERC PromoScience awards $125K to innovative educational programs at Canadian Light Source.

The Canadian Light Source at the University of Saskatchewan has been awarded $125,000 by NSERC’s PromoScience program, to deliver innovative educational programs expected to reach students in over 100 schools across Canada.
PromoScience funding will enable teachers and students to perform hands-on research addressing real-world issues, through existing and new programs.

A new initiative, the Trans-Canadian Research & Environmental Education (TREE) project, will allow students from even the most remote communities across Canada to participate in a national research program in partnership with the Mistik Askiwin Dendrochronology (MAD) Lab at the University of Saskatchewan, using tree cores to study the environmental history of their community.

In an unprecedented collaboration between research and education, students will gather tree core samples and mail them to the CLS, where scientists will examine their chemical signatures while live streaming with the students who collected each sample. Teaching resources will help students to make sense of the data and to compare with other student samples from across the country, in order to understand how chemical changes in different tree cores correlate to their community’s environmental history.

“Students will learn about the life and nutrient cycles of trees, the trees’ ability to capture information in rings, and the nutrients in soil by working through modules and activities designed to engage students in the areas of STEM and traditional knowledge,” said Tracy Walker, Education Programs Lead at the CLS.

>Read more on the Canadian Light Source website

Strain research on rotating bearings wins Fylde prize for best paper

The paper – “Dynamic contact strain measurement by time‐resolved stroboscopic energy dispersive synchrotron X‐ray diffraction,” was the result of a collaboration between the Universities of Sheffield, Bristol, Oxford and Diamond Light Source. The researchers set themselves the challenge not just of measuring the strain in a bearing, but of capturing the measurement while the bearing was rotating and under load. This involved using a special stroboscopic X-ray diffraction technique to measure the strain in the rotating piece of machinery.
The authors will receive their award from the Journal’s Editorial Board and the British Society for Strain Measurement (BSSM) on 30th August 2018 and have been invited to present their paper at the BSSM’s International Conference on Advances in Experimental Mechanics in Southampton at 29 – 31 August 2018.
Image: The bearing experiment.

Call for nominations: Innovation Award on Synchrotron Radiation 2018

The Society of Friends of Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) announces the bestowal of the Innovation Award on Synchrotron Radiation*.

The award was established in 2001 for an excellent achievement which has contributed significantly to the further development of techniques, methods or uses of synchrotron radiation. Scientists and engineers from research institutions, universities, and industry within Europe are addressed. The Innovation Award includes a monetary prize of 3000 Euro and will be bestowed at the Users’ Meeting of HZB (BESSY II) in December 2018.

All nominations should be submitted to the Chair of the Society by September 30, 2018. Suggestions of candidates have to be addressed electronically and must include a concise, verifiable description in English of the scientific-technological achievement. The curriculum vitae, the publication list of the candidate(s) and at five most relevant publications have to be submitted. Two references should be named.

Please address nominations to:

Prof. Dr. Mathias Richter
Chair of the Society of Friends of Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin
Head of Department Radiometry with Synchrotron Radiation, Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt
Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Technische Universität Berlin

*sponsored by SPECS GmbH and BESTEC GmbH, Berlin.

>Read more about the Friends of Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin e.V. on the HZB website

Picture: Bessy II at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin.

Young talent from LNLS awarded at international conference

Work on components for Sirius was elected best poster.

Gabriel Vinícius Claudiano, member of the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS), was awarded the prize for best poster in the category “young engineer under 30” during the tenth edition of the MEDSI (Mechanical Engineering Design of Synchrotron Radiation Equipment and Instrumentation) conference, which was held in Paris, France, between June 25th and 29th.

Gabriel’s work is related to the development of components for the beamlines of the new Brazilian synchrotron light source, Sirius. These components are located at the interface between the storage ring and the beamlines, which is called front-end, and their function is to absorb part of the synchrotron light beam to protect sensitive equipment.

>Read more on the LNLS website

Picture: Gabriel Vinícius Claudiano.

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for N. Mårtensson

The Helmholtz Association has presented the Swedish physicist Nils Mårtensson with a Helmholtz International Fellow Award. 

The synchrotron expert of the University of Uppsala, who heads the nobel comitee for physics, cooperates closely with the HZB-Institute Methods and Instrumentation for Synchrotron Radiation Research. Nils Mårtensson is a professor at Uppsala University. He directed the development of the Swedish synchrotron radiation source Max IV and received a grant from the European Research Council (ERC) in 2013. Mårtensson is a member of the Swedish Academy of Sciences and chairman of the Nobel Committee for Physics. At HZB, he cooperates with Alexander Föhlisch’s team at HZB-Institute Methods and Instrumentation for Synchrotron Radiation Research. Together they run the Uppsala Berlin Joint Laboratory (UBjL) to further develop methods and instruments.

Image: Nils Mårtensson, University of Uppsala, cooperates closely with HZB.

Nobel Prize Barry C. Barish visits ALBA

The Nobel Laureate in Physics for his role in the detection of gravitational waves has visited today the facility.

Accompanied by the director, Caterina Biscari, Ramon Pascual, honorary president, other members of the ALBA management and Enrique Fernández, former director of IFAE, Barry C. Barish has had the opportunity to visit the experimental hall and talk to different researchers who are performing their experiments this week at ALBA.

>Read more on the ALBA website

Picture: (from left to right), Enrique Fernández – former director of IFAE -, Barry C. Barish, Caterina Biscari and Ramon Pascual.

Berkeley Lab researchers receive DOE Early Career Research Awards

Six scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science to receive significant funding for research through its Early Career Research Program.

The program, now in its ninth year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. The six Berkeley Lab recipients are among a total of 84 recipients selected this year, including 30 from DOE’s national laboratories. This year’s awards bring to 35 the total number of Berkeley Lab scientists who have received Early Career Research Program awards since 2010.

“We are grateful that DOE has chosen to recognize these six young Berkeley Lab scientists,” said Berkeley Lab Director Mike Witherell. “Our Lab takes very seriously the responsibility to train the next generation of scientists and engineers. Each of their proposed projects not only represents cutting-edge science but will also contribute to our understanding of the world and a sustainable future.“

The scientists are each expected to receive grants of up to $2.5 million over five years to cover year-round salary plus research expenses.

>Read more on the Advanced Light Source website

Image: Ethan Crumlin is a staff scientist at the Advanced Light Source (ALS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility at Berkeley Lab, who specializes in studies of chemistry at the interfaces between solids, liquids, and gases.

Brookhaven Lab scientist receives Early Career Research Program Funding

Valentina Bisogni, an associate physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, has been selected by DOE’s Office of Science to receive significant research funding as part of DOE’s Early Career Research Program.

The effort, now in its ninth year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. Bisogni is among a total of 84 recipients selected this year after a competitive review of proposals. Thirty winners come from DOE national laboratories and 54 from U.S. universities.

“Supporting talented researchers early in their career is key to building and maintaining a skilled and effective scientific workforce for the nation. By investing in the next generation of scientific researchers, we are supporting lifelong discovery science to fuel the nation’s innovation system,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “We are proud of the accomplishments these young scientists have already made, and look forward to following their achievements in years to come.”

Each researcher will receive a grant of up to $2.5 million over five years to cover their salary and research expenses. A list of the 84 awardees, their institutions, and titles of their research projects is available on DOE’s Early Career Research Program webpage.

>Read more on the NSLS-II at Brookhaven Lab website

Image: Valentina Bisogni is shown preparing samples at NSLS-II’s Soft Inelastic X-ray Scattering beamline, where she will conduct her research funded through DOE’s Early Career Research Program.

Takeuchi Receives European Inventor Award 2018

Prolific patent-holder won for inventing battery that increases the lifespan of implantable defibrillators fivefold, greatly reducing need for reoccurring surgery.

Esther Sans Takeuchi, PhD, has won the 2018 European Inventor Award in the “Non-EPO countries”, the European Patent Office (EPO) announced today. The award was given to her by the EPO at a ceremony held today in Paris, Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Of the four U.S. scientists nominated for the award, Takeuchi is the only American to bring home Europe’s most prestigious prize of innovation.

Takeuchi is the Chief Scientist of the Energy Sciences Directorate at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook University’s (SBU) William and Jane Knapp Endowed Chair in Energy and the Environment, and a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in the College of Arts & Sciences and in Materials Science and Chemical Engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at SBU. She was honored for developing the compact batteries that power tiny, implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs)—devices that detect and correct irregular, potentially fatal, heart rhythms. Her lithium silver vanadium oxide (“Li/SVO”) battery extended the power-source lifetime for ICDs to around five years, considerably longer than its predecessors, thus reducing the number of surgeries patients needed to undergo to replace them. Her invention led not only to an advance in battery chemistry, but also enabled the production and widespread adoption of ICDs and significantly improved patient well-being.

>Read more on the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) website

Image: Esther Sans Takeuchi, a joint appointee of Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University, has won the 2018 European Inventor Award in the category “Non-EPO countries.”



NEXT project receives secretary’s achievement award

On Wednesday, Mar. 14, Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes presented the Secretary’s Achievement Award—a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Project Management (PM) Award—to the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) Experimental Tools (NEXT) project management team for completing the project on schedule and under budget, and for delivering scientific instruments to NSLS-II that will benefit research for years to come.

The NEXT project team coordinated the development and construction of five new beamlines (experimental stations) at NSLS-II, a highly advanced synchrotron light source and a DOE Office of Science User Facility located at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory. Scientists use NSLS-II’s ultra-bright light to study materials with nanoscale resolution and exquisite sensitivity. The five new beamlines developed through NEXT complement the existing beamline portfolio at NSLS-II, and offer new, unique, and cutting-edge scientific capabilities.

“These state-of-the-art beamlines support the DOE Office of Science mission to deliver scientific discoveries and major scientific tools to transform our understanding of nature and to advance the energy, economic, and national security of the United States,” said Robert Caradonna, DOE Brookhaven Site Office Federal Project Director. “This award reflects the drive and dedication of the NEXT project team that made this endeavor a huge success. It was an honor to work with such talented people on such an important a project.”

>Read more on the NSLS-II website

Image: The NEXT team celebrates the completion of the project in NSLS-II’s lobby.
Credit: NSLS II