New CEO appointed for the UK’s national synchrotron, Diamond Light Source

Harwell Campus, UK – 9th August 2023, Professor Gianluigi Botton has been appointed as new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Diamond Light Source

Professor Botton is a renowned expert in microscopy and spectroscopy with an impressive track record in research and funding, having secured more than $50M as Principal Investigator and $90M as a co-investigator and has more than 350 peer-reviewed publications. His work has been cited more than 34,000 times. Over the course of his highly successful career, Gianluigi has been awarded the Microbeam Analysis Society’s Presidential Award (2020), the Metal Physics Award of the Canadian Materials Science Conference (2017); he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (2018) and Fellow of the Microscopy Society of America (2014).

Read more on the Diamond website

International Day of Light #LightSourceSelfie special from the SLS

A community driven by curiosity!

To celebrate International Day of Light 2023, we bring you a #LightSourceSelfies special (see below) from Ludmila Leroy, a postdoc at the Swiss Light Source (SLS), which is located at the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI) in Villigen, Switzerland. With an energy of 2.4 GeV, the SLS provides photon beams of high brightness for research in materials science, biology and chemistry.

Ludmila, who is from Brazil, is studying the properties of magnetic materials. She highlights the versatility of light sources as hugely advantageous to science and learning from, and about, nature. “We are all driven by curiosity and these versatile facilities gives us the ability to try different approaches and push the boundaries in our experiments.” Looking back on her career to date, Ludmila would advise her younger self “not to be scared to reach out for the world” as there are many light sources facilities around the globe and travelling to different countries is an exciting part of being a scientist.

As with all light sources, the SLS operates around the clock and Ludmila has a new take on making night shifts more bearable. Throughout the #LightSourceSelfie campaign, most participants have mentioned coffee, chocolate or candy when talking about night shift survival strategies. For Ludmila, night shifts are more bearable when she eats healthily and makes sure that she keeps hydrated.

And when she is not at a light source….Ludmila is in charge of the Music Club at PSI, which brings together a mixture of PhD students, postdocs, technicians and staff scientists. The PSIchedelics is just one of the society’s musical entertainment offerings. Ludmila plays the bass and sings in this band and her #LightSourceSelfie ends with a fantastic clip of them in action. You can find out more about music at PSI here: Music at PSI | Our Research | Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI)

Building Particle Accelerators Takes More Than a Village

From magnets to power supplies, NSLS-II experts support accelerator upgrades across the Nation.

Each year, thousands of people travel far and wide to see architectural marvels such as the towering steps of the Kukulcán temple in in Chichen Itza or the intricate facade of the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. Like these marvels of history and culture, thousands of researchers travel to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) five light source facilities each year. They don’t come for the views, though, they come to push the boundaries of science—in fields ranging from batteries to pharmaceuticals—by using the ultrabright synchrotron light, mostly x-rays, from these facilities to conduct experiments.

This light doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. It needs to be generated by large, complex particle accelerators. And, to keep the x-rays as bright as possible, scientists and engineers are working constantly to advance them. This story highlights ongoing collaborative projects of the Accelerator Division at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), located at DOE’s Brookhaven Lab.

According to historical sources, it took the Germans over 600 years to build the original Cologne Cathedral, while archeologists speculate that the Temple of Kukulcán took at least 200 years to build in two phases. Thousands of people worked on these monuments during these extremely long construction periods. This is a feat they share with modern particle accelerator projects. While the initial construction of NSLS-II took only a decade, it still involved an international effort of hundreds of people from many disciplines and professions.

From the civil engineering challenges of the building design to the construction of the hundreds of magnets inside the accelerator, it truly takes more than a village to build a particle accelerator for a synchrotron light source. Similarly, many modern accelerator projects span multiple institutions and countries to leverage the expertise in the field.

Read more on the Brookhaven National Laboratory (NBL)

Image: The photo shows a view of the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) accelerator tunnel located at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Travel the world of light sources with our 2023 calendar is a collaboration that brings together 23 synchrotrons and 7 Free Electron Lasers located at 24 member facilities around the world. Each member facility has contributed an image for our 2023 calendar.

Download your digital copy below and keep up to date with news, events, job vacancies (including PhD and postdoc positions) and proposal deadlines by subscribing to our weekly newsletter here

You can get in touch with Silvana Westbury, our Project Manager, via e-mail at:

The history of one of the oldest objects in the Solar system unveiled

An international team of scientists have unveiled details of the history of the asteroid Ryugu, a truly ancient object in the Solar system, after the Hayabusa2 mission brought samples from this asteroid back to Earth. The ESRF was one of the institutes involved in sample characterization, on ID15A. The results are published in Science.

The asteroid Ryugu, located at 200 million kilometres from the Earth, is one of the most primitive objects of the solar system. The Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa2 explored it from 2018 until it came back to Earth two years later with minuscule multiple samples from the asteroid.

Two years later, and thanks to the international collaboration of institutes led by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the first results on the analysis of the samples shed light on the history of Ryugu, from its formation to its collisional destruction.

Researchers used cosmochemical and physical methods at universities and institutes, including the ESRF and four other synchrotron radiation facilities in Japan, United States, and Europe.

The results combined with computer simulation have allowed scientists to picture the origins of Ryugu:  the Ryugu parent body accumulated about 2 million years after the formation of the solar system, and then heated up to about 50°C over the next 3 million years, resulting in chemical reactions between water and rock. The size of the impactor that destroyed the Ryugu parent body, which is about 100 km in diameter, is at most 10 km in diameter, and that the present-day Ryugu is composed of material from a region far from the impact point.

What the data explain

In particular, the seventeen Ryugu samples analysed contain particles (such as Ca- and Al-rich inclusions) that were formed in high-temperature environments (>1000°C). These high-temperature particles are thought to have formed near the Sun and then migrated to the outer solar system, where Ryugu was formed. This indicates that large-scale mixing of materials occurred between the inner and outer solar system at the time of its birth.

Based on the detection of the magnetic field left in the Ryugu samples, it is highly likely that the original asteroid from which the current Ryugu descended (Ryugu’s parent body) was born in the darkness of nebular gas, far from the Sun, where sunlight cannot reach.

The scientists also discovered liquid water trapped in a crystal in a sample. This water was carbonated water containing salts and organic matter, which was once present in the Ryugu parent body. Crystals shaped as coral reefs grew from the liquid water that existed inside Ryugu’s parent body. Rocks that were deeper underground contained more water than those in the surface.

Read more on the ESRF website

Image: A coloured view of the C-type asteroid 162173 Ryugu, seen by the ONC-T camera on board of Hayabusa2.

Credit: JAXA Hayabusa 2

40 years of research with synchrotron light in Berlin

For decades, science in Berlin has been an important driver of innovation and progress. Creative, talented people from all over the world come together here and develop new ideas from which we all benefit as a society. Many discoveries – from fundamental insights to marketable products – are made by doing research with synchrotron light. Researchers have had access to this intense light in Berlin for 40 years. It inspires many scientific disciplines and is an advantage for Germany.

In September 1982, the first electron storage ring officially went into operation in Berlin-Wilmersdorf under the name BESSY (Berliner Elektronenspeicherring-Gesellschaft für Synchrotronstrahlung). In order to create this coveted synchrotron light, electrons are accelerated to near light speed in a circle. As they race around at this speed they emit special light, which scientists can use to look inside their samples. The successor facility in Berlin-Adlershof, BESSY II, is also based on this principle. It produced its first light beam in 1998 and is operated by Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB). Presently, the facility receives around 2700 visits per year from guest researchers from everywhere in the world. It will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in September 2023.

Read more on the HZB website

Image: A view of the experimental hall at BESSY II

Credit: © S. Steinbach/HZB

Opening Ceremony for the new ASTRA (SOLABS) beamline

On 29 June 2022, the official opening ceremony was held for the ASTRA beamline (formerly SOLABS), a beamline dedicated to measurements using X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) in the energy range of 1 keV to 15 keV. The ceremony was attended by a number of distinguished guests along with the international team involved in building the beamline.

International cooperation is the key to success.

The ASTRA beamline was created thanks to the cooperation of 4 scientific institutions, the Hochschule Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences (Germany), Synchrotron Light Research Institute (Thailand), the Institute of Physics at Bonn University (Germany), and the SOLARIS Center.

Read more on the Solaris website

Image: Starting from right to left: Prof. Alexander Prange (Hochschule Niederrhein), Dr Thomas Grünewald (Hochschule Niederrhein), Prof. Stanisław Kistryn (Jagiellonian University), Prof. Marek Stankiewicz (SOLARIS, JU), Dr Michael Groß (Consul General of Germany), Prof. Josef Hormes (University of Bonn). Further Dr Alexey Maximenko (SOLARIS), Dr Henning Lichtenberg (Hochschule Niederrhein), Marcel Piszak (SOLARIS) – credit Solaris Synchrotron. 

Ramon Pascual’s #My1stLight on International Day of Light!

Memory of synchrotron light

The first time I learnt about synchrotron light was around 1968 at a seminar by Manuel Cardona at the University of Madrid about an experiment he developed at DESY. As a particle physicist theoretician, at that time I did not had any idea that many years later I would be involved in a synchrotron light source as ALBA.

At the beginning of the ‘90s, with the idea of constructing a particle accelerator in Spain I realized the interest and the importance of a third-generation light source and I proposed to the Catalan Government the construction of a light source in Spain. After a bit more of a decade of efforts of several people, ALBA was finally approved and their beam lines have been operating for users since 2012.

The success of these ten years of reliable operation is that, ALBA is now preparing its upgrade to a fourth-generation source, ALBA II.

Ramon Pascual

Honorary president of ALBA

Find out more about ALBA here

Image: Aerial view of ALBA

Credit: ALBA

Yonghua Du recognized as a highly cited researcher 2021

Du was cited by Web of Science in its Cross-Field category, which identifies researchers who have contributed to highly cited papers across several different fields

Brookhaven Lab scientist Yonghua Du has been named a highly cited researcher in Web of Science’s 2021 report. Each year, the Web of Science publishes a list of researchers who have demonstrated significant and broad influence in a chosen field or fields over the past decade through highly cited papers. The list includes the top 1 percent of researchers by citation for a chosen field or fields. Du was recognized in the cross-field category.

“I have spent my career at synchrotron facilities, collaborating with as many researchers all over the world to uncover the secrets of their samples using our unique tools. Many excellent papers were published,” said Du. “So, I am proud of this achievement.”

In his position as a beamline scientist at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), Du balances his time between developing more research capabilities for his beamline and building strong collaborations with researchers from across the globe. These researchers—called users—work together with NSLS-II experts to solve the biggest scientific challenges of today using the facility’s unique research tools.

Read more on the Brookhaven National Lab website

Image: Brookhaven Lab scientist Yonghua Du standing in front of the Tender Energy X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (TES) beamline at the National Synchrotron Light Source II

International research continued at BESSY II despite the pandemic

2021 was not an easy year for international research: owing to lockdowns and travel bans, science was hit hard by the pandemic situation. Nevertheless, experiments continued at a high level at the BESSY II light source in Berlin Adlershof – thanks in part to new remote service offers. Here are the figures at a glance.

“It makes us happy that BESSY II was dependably available to researchers for around 6000 hours despite the difficult conditions,” says Dr. Antje Vollmer, Head of User Coordination at HZB. The light generated at BESSY II is directed through 25 beamlines to 37 experimental stations. Thus, altogether, light was available for nearly 150,000 hours of research at all the beamlines. This light is used for experiments in many fields, including physics, chemistry and the life sciences. 

47 percent of user groups from abroad

As was to be expected, given that travel had to be limited, COVID-19 left a dip in user visits in 2021. “We counted just under 1400 visits from users last year. What surprised us, in view of the tense situation, was that 30 percent of the user groups came from other European countries and 17 percent were from non-European countries,” reports Antje Vollmer. “In total, we had user groups from 34 countries, which is an astonishing number.”

The fact that researchers from abroad conducted their experiments at BESSY II even in the corona year 2021 underlines the attractiveness of the photon source and the experimental stations, some of which are unique worldwide. “It also shows that the users here are very well looked after by dedicated scientists at the experimental stations and are happy to come back.”

Read more on the HZB website

Image: In 2021, our users at BESSY II came from 34 countries

Credit: © HZB

Many languages make up one voice for the brightest science

#LightSourceSelfies was made possible thanks to the help of our contributors from synchrotrons and free electron lasers around the global community. We come together as one voice for the brightest science but with many different languages spoken. Today’s Monday Montage celebrates the wonderfully rich, international culture that exists within science. Greetings from the light sources family around the world!

Collaboration: a watchword for the light source community

Scientists Nina Perry and Nina Vyas, from Diamond Light Source ( – the UK’s synchrotron), along with SaeHwan Chun, scientist at the PAL-XFEL ( – the Free Electron Laser in South Korea) talk about a theme that is common to all light sources around the world, and indeed to science and all its associated disciplines. Cooperation and collaboration, and their benefits for scientists’ wellbeing as well as the science, are highlighted in this #LightSourceSelfie video.

Nina Perry & Ninya Vyas, on Beamline B24 at Diamond Light Source, the UK’s synchrotron science facility

Uniting science to address climate change

Key leaders and researchers from major US and European big science laboratories, namely EIROforum (Europe’s eight largest intergovernmental scientific research organisations, including CERN, EMBL, ESA, ESO, ESRF, EUROfusion, European XFEL and ILL) and the US Department of Energy’s seventeen National Laboratories (Ames, Argonne, Brookhaven, Fermi, Idaho, Jefferson, Los Alamos, Lawrence Berkeley, Lawrence Livermore, NETL, NREL, Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest, PPPL, SLAC, Sandia and Savannah River), met by videoconference ahead of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26).

Sharing the same values, and convinced that science performs best through collaboration, the EIROforum’s directors and NLDC (comprised of directors from the US National Laboratories) affirmed their common commitment to unite science towards a sustainable and resilient global society and economy:

  • By stepping up their scientific collaboration on carbon-neutral energy and climate change
  • By sharing best practices to improve the climate sustainability and carbon footprint of Europe’s and US’s big science facilities
  • By sharing knowledge and fostering public engagement on clean energy and climate change research

Read more on the ESRF website

Image: COP26

Credit: ESRF

World Science Day spotlight: Collaborating to tackle SARS-CoV-2

Science facilities worldwide have been working around the clock to drive forward SARS-CoV-2 research to alleviate the suffering that the COVID-19 pandemic is currently causing.

Today (November 10), in recognition of World Science Day for Peace and Development, the collective efforts of thousands of scientists and technical experts is being marked through this year’s focus – “Science for and with Society in dealing with the global pandemic.”

At the start of the pandemic, the facilities that make up the collaboration were swift to ensure that rapid access was available for researchers working on SARS-CoV-2. This has led to a large body of research being undertaken at synchrotrons and free electron lasers.  The aims have been varied and include mapping the structure of the virus; finding binding sites for drugs to lock into; screening existing drugs to establish if they have a role to play in treating patients; understanding the impact of the virus on the lungs; and understanding the immune response so vaccines can be designed to illicit an immune response in the body.

A dedicated, regularly updated, web page – Lightsource research for SARS-CoV-2 – draws together all this research, along with other publications and resources.  It also includes links for researchers wishing to gain rapid access for their SARS-CoV-2 experiments.

The World Science Day for Peace and Development was created as a follow-up to the World Conference on Science, organised jointly by UNESCO and the International Council for Science in Budapest (Hungary) in 1999.

By linking science more closely with society, World Science Day for Peace and Development aims to ensure that citizens are kept informed of developments in science. It also underscores the role scientists play in broadening our understanding of the remarkable, fragile planet we call home and in making our societies more sustainable.

Learn more about World Science Day for Peace and Development on the UNESCO website

Image: World Science Day for Peace and Development 2020 poster

Credit: UNESCO

Understanding more about the ExPaNDS project

Diamond is a key collaborator in this European project, which will be mapping the data behind the thousands of published scientific papers

ExPaNDS is the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Photon and Neutron Data Service, which is a collaboration project between ten national Photon and Neutron Research Infrastructures (PAN RIs). This ambitious project will create opportunities for facilities’ users to access the data behind the thousands of successful published scientific papers generated by Europe’s PaN RIs – which every year create petabytes of data.
ExPaNDS will link all relevant data catalogues to ensure that any scientific research communities have access to both the raw data collected that is linked to their session(s) at these facilities, and the relevant peer review articles produced as a direct result of their usage.

The project brings together a network of ten national PaN RIs from across Europe as well as EGI, a federated e-Infrastructure set up to provide advanced computing services for research. In order to do this, ExPaNDS will develop a common ontology for all the elements of these catalogues, a roadmap for the back-end architecture, functionalities and a powerful taxonomy strategy in line with the requirement of the EOSC user community.

>Read more on the Diamond Light Source website
>Find more news on the ExPaNDS website

ExPaNDS presentation video

Helping to grow more food in Africa

University of Saskatchewan scientists help farmers in West Africa improve crops.

Derek Peak and Abimfoluwa Olaleye are using Canadian Light Source at the University of Saskatchewan (Usask) to help farmers in Nigeria and the Republic of Benin to grow vegetables less expensively and more sustainably. The USask researchers and their team recently published a paper in Soil Systems that explores the effects of an innovative farming practice, fertilizer microdosing, on two vegetable systems in both countries.

“The overall idea was to scale up good, innovative ideas to solve food security problems in the regions,” says Peak. “We combine agricultural studies out in the field with socio-economic studies and development work.” Olaleye’s interest in the project is both scientific and personal. “Anything agriculture always gets my interest, it’s something I’m passionate about. And helping people is a big bonus. My dad was a farmer back in Nigeria, so I picked up on that,” he says.

>Read more on the Canadian Light Source website

Image: Abimfoluwa Olaleye (right) and Taylor Procyshen, a graduate student who helped with the project, working in the laboratory together.