2014 Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) Program Participants & Projects

PHOTO: Student and Mentors for SULI

 
PHOTO: Mark Arildsen

Student: Mark Arildsen 

Mentors: Zhirong Huang & Joel England

Laser-based Accelerator on a Chip Design

Modern methods in materials science, chemistry, biology and atomic physics increasingly depend on particle accelerators to generate short-pulse, high intensity synchrotron light for the measurement of electron motion and spin. A new, compact accelerator design under study is the ‘accelerator on a chip’ where ultrafast lasers are used to drive a beam of electrons through micron-sized channels within a fused silica substrate. In this project the SULI student will work with SLAC staff and visiting scientists to develop conceptual designs for and perform simulations of a dielectric-based laser accelerator. The goal is to demonstrate the feasibility of a compact attosecond synchrotron light source.

 
PHOTO: Sergio Banuelos

Student: Sergio Banuelos

Mentor: Riti Sarangi

EXAFS Structure Determination

The student will work on applying EXAFS structure determination techniques to biological or biomimetic molecular systems containing metal sites. The idea is to understand the geometry and electronics of the sites metal sites to understand how they work in proteins and other biomolecules.

 
PHOTO: Neal Barrina

Student: Neal Barrina

Mentors: Joe Frisch

Femtosecond Timing Development for the LCLS

In this project students will develop precision microwave technology for femtosecond timing systems to be deployed at the LCLS and LCLS-II X-ray free-electron laser facilities. The work includes development of prototype low noise and low drift frequency generation systems to serve as a master RF source. As the LCLS and LCLS-II operate at different frequencies (2.856GHz and 1.300GHz), there is a need to demonstrate that the two frequencies can be locked together with femtosecond timing resolution. Both analog and direct digital frequency synthesis will be considered. Working in parallel with SLAC staff, visiting scientists and other SULI students, the project will include two components: design and construction of the frequency locking electronics, and demonstration of measurement techniques to experimentally quantify the performance of the system. By gaining experience with low noise microwave techniques, the students will learn valuable skills for a variety of engineering and scientific applications.

 
PHOTO: Melanie Bukovec

Student: Melanie Bukovec

Mentors: Lester Carter & Thomas Weiss

New Technique for X-Ray Scattering in Biological Samples

Small angle x-ray scattering from macroscopic biological samples is a common technique to determine the 3-dimensional structure of proteins in solution. This project will focus on an improvement to this technique, namely a recent procedure named FPLC-SAXS where a size-exclusion column is used to purify samples immediately prior to data collection. Working with SLAC staff and visiting scientists, the student will establish a set of control proteins to use as standards, and then use these standards to fine tune various experimental parameters such as column choice, flow rate and injection volume to progressively improve data accuracy. This project will give the student an introduction to the biological methodology of SAXS data collection, hands on experience with the new FPLC/HPLC technique and exposure to advanced data analysis techniques at a major research facility.

 
PHOTO:Marquis Douglas

Student: Marquis Douglas

Mentors: Anna Wise & Johanna Nelson Weker

Battery Cell

In the last few years at SSRL we have an increasing interest in the X-ray characterization of energy storage materials (such as lithium-ion batteries) during operation. We have a number of different in operando battery cell designs, however, none of them are optimized. This project will center around the design, testing, and ultimate use of an optimized battery cell that is both realistic in its operation and is adaptable to a number of different X-ray studies.

 
PHOTO: Rachel Flaherman

Student: Rachel Flaherman

Mentor: Josh Turner

Understanding the Relationship of Charge Density Waves to High Temperature Superconductivity in Quantum Materials

With the recent discovery of charge density waves in the high-temperature superconductors, their relationship to superconductivity has become one of the hottest topics in the field of condensed matter physics. This project will be centered around preparation for a 5-day experiment in which this relationship will be explored on an ultra-fast time scale using the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The LCLS is the world's first x-ray free electron laser, and has the ability to probe physics which can only be explored with this unique machine: physics at nanometer length scales and femtosecond time scales. This project will include: ultra-high vacuum work, electronics, working with THz laser systems, programming, timing diagnostics, and resonant soft x-ray scattering.

 

 
PHOTO: Athena Gallegos

Student: Athena Gallegos

Mentors: Apurva Mehta & Kevin Stone

A Reciprocal Space Navigator for Deciphering Orientation Relationships in Multijunction Solar Cells (and other epitaxial structures)

This project will focus on creating a 3-dimensional map of reciprocal space from 2-dimensional images of x-ray diffraction data. Using this 3-dimensional map of reciprocal space, we (or the student) will be able to visualize and describe orientation and strain relationships between epitaxial layers in multilayered devices, specifically solar cells.

 

 
PHOTO: Sarah Hallett

Student: Sarah Hallett

Mentors: Joy Andrews Hayter

Patterns of Fragmentation

This project in instrumentation/measurement using a mass spectrometry will include some basic programming, and some engineering. Parent compounds are broken down into fragments within the mass spec, and the distribution of fragments forms a characteristic pattern to identify the parent compounds. Many different compounds can result in a fragment of a particular mass, but the patterns of fragmentation for each parent molecule are unique. We want to set up an algebraic technique to account for multiple parent compounds that may have some of the same mass fragments. This will involve sending in known combinations of compounds, and using published libraries with fragmentation patterns, to identify and quantify products with the mass spec. In addition, the tubing lead to the mass spec must be heated, in order to keep longer chain hydrocarbons volatile.

 
PHOTO: Christopher Jackson

Student: Christopher Jackson

Mentors: Chris Tassone

Analysis of Polymer

There is a misunderstanding within the semi-conducting polymer community regarding the solution phase conformation of these polymers and how it ultimately relates to the mesoscale structure of thin films cast using these polymers. We are beginning an investigation into this process here at SSRL. We will be coupling solution phase small angle x-ray scattering to optical absorption measurements of polymer in solution in order to understand how solution phase aggregation effects the band-gap tuning within these systems. The student will be involved in the collection of solution phase SAXS as well as solution phase UV/Vis absorption of 2 polymers in several organic solvents. They will be responsible for data analysis as well as connecting the structure-property relationship between optical bandgap shifts, to the solution phase conformation.

 
PHOTO: Jiayi Jiang

Student: Jiayi Jiang

Mentors: Joe Frisch

Ultra Fast Timing for the LCLS

In this project students will develop precision microwave technology for femtosecond timing systems to be deployed at the LCLS and LCLS-II X-ray free-electron laser facilities. The work includes development of prototype low noise and low drift frequency generation systems to serve as a master RF source. As the LCLS and LCLS-II operate at different frequencies (2.856GHz and 1.300GHz), there is a need to demonstrate that the two frequencies can be locked together with femtosecond timing resolution. Both analog and direct digital frequency synthesis will be considered. Working in parallel with SLAC staff, visiting scientists and other SULI students, the project will include two components: design and construction of the frequency locking electronics, and demonstration of measurement techniques to experimentally quantify the performance of the system. By gaining experience with low noise microwave techniques, the students will learn valuable skills for a variety of engineering and scientific applications.

 
PHOTO: Jacob Lashner

Student: Jacob Lashner

Mentors: Anna Franckowiak

Searching for Gamma-ray Emission from Supernovae

Core-collapse supernovae (SNe) mark the death of massive stars. A large amount of energy is released and an expanding shock wave accelerates surrounding stellar material to escape velocity, forming a supernova explosion. If the supernova happens in a dense and massive circumstellar (CSM) environment, the protons and electrons can be accelerated to high energies in interactions of the propagating ejecta with the CSM. Proton-proton interactions among the accelerated particles or scattering of accelerated electrons on a surrounding radiation field produce gamma-rays. SNe of type IIn (characterized based on the emission lines in their spectrum) are expected to be powered by the interaction of ejecta and CSM and are thus good candidates to host environments for particle acceleration. No attempt has been made to detect gamma-rays from this class of sources in a systematic way yet. The Fermi gamma-ray space telescope scans the sky roughly every 3h and delivers excellent data for this kind of search.
Based on a catalog of type IIn SNe (compiled using optical data), we want to search for gamma-ray emission in coincidence with the optical emission. Currently our SNe catalog contains only basic information, such as direction, detection time and peak magnitude of the SN light curve. In order to optimize the search for gamma-rays an accurate determination of the gamma-ray search time window is crucial. Furthermore, several parameters of the explosion (e.g. ejecta velocity, total energy released in the explosion, CSM mass, light curve, etc.) are important for a detailed modeling of the source yielding an accurate prediction of the gamma-ray emission.

 
PHOTO: Perry Leong

Student: Perry Leong

Mentors: Jeff Corbett

Minority Carrier Lifetime of Solar Cells with Time Resolved Single Photon Counting

For this project the successful SULI applicant will measure minority carrier life time of thin film solar cells at the diagnostic beam line for the SPEAR3 Lightsource at SLAC. Thin film samples will be provided and measurement techniques will include time-resolved single photon counting using the broadband visible light beam. The SULI student will work with SLAC staff and other students in a dynamic environment providing exposure to advanced technology and scientific measurement techniques.

 
PHOTO: Brenna Mockler

Student: Brenna Mockler

Mentors: Debbie Bard

LSST Weak Lensing

LSST will be a survey wider and deeper than all previous telescopes combined. It will measure the properties of tens of billions of galaxies, allowing us to measure the nature of the Universe to an unprecedented precision. However, to be able to take advantage of this vast quantity of data, we need to design new, more efficient and more accurate algorithms to make our measurements. Existing algorithms simply won't cut it. This is particularly true in gravitational lensing, where there is active development and competition within the community to come up with the best way of measuring the subtle distortion in galaxy shapes, caused by the gravitational field of matter in the Universe.

In this spirit, I've recently formed a collaboration between experts in theory, statistics, computing and astronomy to develop an entirely new way of measuring galaxy shapes. It is the first fully Bayesian approach to the problem of weak gravitational lensing, where galaxy shapes are distorted by a percent at most. It's a new collaboration, and right now we're just getting started but our results are promising! The project I want to work on over the summer will take our initial results and extend them to cover other problems specific for LSST. For example, how will this algorithm deal with the distortions imprinted on galaxy images by imperfections in the telescope and the atmosphere? This has direct implications for work being currently carried out at the Dark Energy Survey and at CFHT.

Since LSST is inherently a big-data project, this project will also involve intensive computing as we process simulated data. If the student is interested, we can also develop GPU algorithms to speed up the calculation.

 
PHOTO: Hoang Nguyen

Student: Hoang Nguyen

Mentors: Kelly Gaffney & Winnie Liang

Covalent Control of Photoisomerization

The student would work on x-ray spectroscopy or organic synthesis, depending on what they had already studied. For x-ray spectroscopy a back ground in physics is best. For synthesis, the student should have taken organic chemistry.

 
PHOTO: Wesley Pollock

Student: Wesley Pollock

Mentors: Dennis Nordlund

Electron Localization in Space and Time Using X-ray Spectroscopy

The SULI student will work on preliminary soft x-ray spectroscopy studies for ultrafast laser pump / x-ray probe experiments planned at LCLS, including some data collection at SSRL.

 
PHOTO: Benjamin Stahl

Student: Benjamin Stahl

Mentors: Luigi Tibaldo

Instrumentation for the Cherenkov Telescope Array

The Cherenkov Telescope Array project is an initiative to build the next generation ground-based instrument to detect very high energy gamma-rays. This kind of telescope works by imaging the flash of Cherenkov light produced in the Earth's atmosphere when a higher-energy gamma-ray strikes the atmosphere. The gamma-ray produces a cascade of charged particles in the atmosphere, imparting so much energy that they are moving faster than the speed of light in air. These particles radiate Cherenkov light, which can be detected using sensitive photovoltaic devices. The physics program of CTA goes beyond high energy astrophysics into cosmology and fundamental physics, and will provide a deep insight into the highest-energy astrophysical phenomena. This project will design and develop instrumentation for CTA.

 
PHOTO: Louis Tessler

Student: Louis Tessler 

Mentors: Hendrik Ohldag

X-ray Microscope

We operate a “scanning transmission x-ray microscope” at SSRL BL 13-1. This microscope enables us to visualize magnetic switching processes with sub 30nm spatial an tens of picoseconds temporal resolution. These capabilities make it an excellent tool to investigate future magnetic storage media and for this reason we closely collaborate with companies around silicon valley. The microscope will undergo a few changes over the summer, namely we would like to equip it with a variable field magnet that is build using permanent magnets only and we are going to upgrade the control system. Other than being part of the ongoing experiments at beam line 13 we would hope that the summer student will contribute to one of these two projects which will require either programming skills in Python or an interest in building instrumentation.

 
PHOTO: Sarah Vickery

Student: Sarah Vickery

Mentors: Andrea Albert

Data analysis with the Fermi LAT

The Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope launched in 2008, and has been helping scientists understand the high-energy universe ever since. Fermi detects gamma-rays from a range of high-energy astronomical phenomena, from supermassive black holes to merging neutron stars. This project will involve analyzing data taken with the Fermi Large Area Telescope. Depending on the interests of the student, the project can be tailored to search for signals of the elusive dark matter, or to investigate new event classes to identify a range of high-energy astronomical events. Both projects will take advantage of the brand-new Pass 8 data release.

 
PHOTO: Julia Yang

Student: Julia Yang

Mentors: Hae Ja Lee

Optical Beam Imaging Study

The summer student will develop and optical imaging system that will be used for an femtosecond and nanosecond optical laser and x-ray experiment. She/He will have an opportunity to learn about laser optics and imaging system. We will measure spot size and spatial profile and analyze them for applications on the MEC instrument. This project will be part of the Matter in Extreme Conditions (MEC) Instrument at LCLS. MEC uses powerful laser pulses to introduce transient states in materials and then probes these states using the ultrafast x-ray pulses from LCLS.

 

PHOTO: Linnea Zavala

Student: Linnea Zavala

Mentors: Jeff Corbett

Single Photon Counting and Beam Size Measurement

In this project the SULI student will work on visible-light photon beam characterization at the SPEAR3 synchrotron radiation laboratory. Specifically, the project will include a time-correlated single photon counting system to measure the pulse train structure of the radiation beam and a two-slit interferometer to measure transverse beam size. Students with will work with fellow summer students, SLAC staff and visiting scientists to gain hands on experience with photon beam diagnostics including exposure to research SPEAR3 and the LCLS.

 
 

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