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Travel report California, USA: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Valerija Music in California, USA, Spring 2020 - Left: Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Photo: Dr. Juliane Reinhardt. Right: Visit of the undulator section of LCLS-II. Photo: Dr. Peter Walter

Valerija Music, PhD student at the University of Kassel and the European XFEL, received a travel grant for a two month research stay at SLAC in California, USA. Here is her report:

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is one of the leading research facilities in photon science and contains different light sources as for example the world‘s first hard X-ray Free-Electron Laser (XFEL), named the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), which started its operation in 2009. Nowadays, there are more XFELs around the globe. The first operational high-repetition rate XFEL that even advances deeper into the X-ray regime is the European XFEL in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, where I am performing my PhD research in atomic and molecular physics in the group of Markus Ilchen. The typically employed experimental techniques are similar and enable researchers from different facilities to cooperate in building up and performing experiments. This advantage motivated me to visit the LCLS for a duration of two months. I was there as a guest scientist, involved in building up one experimental section of the Time-resolved atomic, Molecular and Optical science (TMO) soft X-ray instrument. The pioneering instrument which will see the first light from the major upgrade of LCLS to LCLS II.

A complete installation of a new accelarator, components and instruments was performed and is still ongoing. The main upgrade contains the higher repetition rate from 120 Hz to 1 MHz. First X-rays and early science experiments are expected in summer 2020. My task was to support the TMO instrument and to set up one experimental chamber called LAMP (LCLS-ASG-Michigan Project). This endstation offers the possibility of performing high energy, high resolution, time- but also angular-resolved electron and ion spectroscopic measurements. Especially the last mentioned technique is from utmost importance for my own research. Within my PhD project I will design, setup and commission a double-sided Velocity-Map-Imaging (VMI) spectrometer that is optimized to study molecular building blocks of life from a physical chemistry point of view. It can for example shed light on some of the most fundamental questions about chirality itself. Such kind of spectrometer is also available at LAMP. The work on the chamber and its components gave me a deep insight and understanding into different components and benefited my personal development as a young scientist a lot. Furthermore, the huge hardware experience and newly gained extensive understanding in atomic and molecular science will surely enrich my PhD project.

My sincere thanks to the Volkswagenstiftung for financing the largest part of this stay and PIER for supporting my journey by giving me the travel grant.

Valerija Music, April 2020

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