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Tais Gorkhover


Stanford Pulse Institute & SLAC

X-ray vision extreme - how new X-ray sources transform our capabilities to resolve electrons and atoms at work


Our imaging tools determine our perception of the world around us. Before the invention of the microscope, nobody could believe that the most dangerous diseases could be caused by tiny invisible culprits such as microbes. Humanity has made tremendous progress and our ability to resolve very small features, including single atoms, has forever changed our everyday life. However, we still face fundamental limitations in understanding processes at the atomic scale as our are high-resolution images are mostly static. The problem can be recognized already by playing around with a microscope. In order to resolve the smallest features, more light is required to create a bright image. Extrapolated to the atomic scale, the amount of light or electrons impinging onto the sample will have to be increased even more. This means that longer exposure times are required to create a clear image. This usually limits the temporal resolution of most our imaging tools and may even lead to the modification of the sample during the imaging process. My research at the SLAC National Laboratory is dedicated to the question of whether we can beat this fundamental barrier by using intense and very short X-ray pulses from the first hard X-ray laser in the world. I will present some exciting science being produced in your neighbourhood electron accelerator, which also happens to be one of the longest ones ever built.

Meet the Speaker:

After her graduate studies at the Technical University of Berlin in Germany, Gorkhover joined SLAC in 2014 as a Peter Paul Ewald fellow from the Volkswagen Foundation. Gorkhover has been a spokesperson for three LCLS experiments and a collaborator in more than 15, and she co-authored or led more than 30 publications in high-impact journals.

Gorkhover was one of four SLAC scientists to win the Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Program award in March 2018. In 2016, she was the first female scientist to receive the Panofsky Fellowship, named after the laboratory’s founder and first director.

Gorkhover pioneered “in-flight holography”, a novel X-ray imaging technique that applies the principles of holography to the advanced capabilities of free-electron lasers like LCLS. Gorkhover is the principal investigator in a study featured on the March 2018 cover of Nature Photonics that demonstrated the first X-ray holograms of nanosized viruses.

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