Novel Intermediate Energy X-ray Beamline Opening for Researchers


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Researchers working to create next-generation electronic systems and to understand the fundamental properties of magnetism and electronics to tackle grand challenges such as quantum computing have a new cutting-edge tool in their arsenal. The Advanced Photon Source (APS), a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility located at Argonne National Laboratory, recently unveiled a new capability: the Intermediate Energy X-ray (IEX) beamline at sector 29.

Using relatively low-energy X-rays, the IEX beamline at the APS will help illuminate electronic ordering and emergent phenomena in ordered materials to better understand the origins of distinct electronic properties. Another important feature for users is a greater ability to adjust X-ray parameters to meet experimental needs.

Currently in commissioning phase, the IEX beamline begins its first user runs in January 2016. With its state-of-the-art electromagnetic insertion device, highly adaptive X-ray optics, and compatible endstation techniques for X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and scattering, it opens a new era for X-ray research in sciences ranging from condensed matter physics and materials science to molecular chemistry.

"The nice thing about having both spectroscopy and scattering techniques available here is that there are different communities addressing the same science questions with different approaches," said Jessica McChesney, an assistant physicist and beamline scientist at the APS who is responsible for operating the beamline and starting the user program. "We hope people will actually work together and talk to each other, and drive the science that way."

"The idea is, we're going to look at electronic order in materials that may one day end up in your cell phone, either as battery materials, interconnects, or in the logic," McChesney added. "Possibly one day, when we have spintronic devices, the materials may be something we studied here."

Conventional electronics use current, or the flow of electrons, while spintronics relies on the flow of the electrons' spins, not just their charges. Other materials that can be studied at the IEX beamline include high-temperature superconductors, magnetic materials, and polymer self-assemblies.

The new beamline was built to meet the specific requirements of its two shared scientific endstations that offer users varied but complementary techniques. Using Einstein's discovery of the photoelectric effect, the angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) endstation measures the energy and angle of emitted electrons and, by using conservation of energy and momentum, can reveal what the properties of these photoemitted electrons were before they left the material. The resonant soft X-ray scattering (RSXS) uses resonance, the tuning of the X-ray beam to a specific electronic excitation, to scatter off of an ordered electronic state to determine electron density.

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