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Uwe Bergmann

Staff Scientist and Principle Investigator

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford PULSE Institute

Seeing the Invisible – The Science and Application of X-rays.


Since the discovery of X-rays by Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen in 1895, this mysterious form of light has revolutionized many fields of science and research. Most people are familiar with the penetrating power of X-rays that allow us to see the inside of our bodies, but other properties of X-rays might be even more fascinating. For example, X-rays can bring to light the structure and chemistry of molecules with atomic precision, far beyond the best microscopes. X-rays can also identify and image individual chemical elements, a phenomenon recently used to bring to light import documents in art and archaeology. Over the past 40 years powerful X-ray sources based on large accelerators such as the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) at SLAC have dramatically advanced the field of X-ray science. Very recently SLAC has also built a new X-ray laser the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) which has enhanced the brightness of X-rays sources by another staggering ten billion times. Now, for the first time, we can make movies of molecules in action in real time with atomic precision. We will discuss these amazing machines, and some of the most exciting examples of recent X-ray research.

Meet the Speaker:

Uwe Bergmann got his PhD in Physics from Stony Brook University and is a Distinguished Staff Scientist at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Principle Investigator at the Stanford PULSE Institute. He has done his graduate research at the Brookhaven National Lab in New York and since worked at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France and the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. In 2003 he joined SLAC and has worked at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource and the Linac Coherent Light Source, the world's first X-ray free electron laser, where he was the deputy and interim director. Since 2015 he is at the Stanford PULSE Institute at SLAC. His research activities focus on the development and application of novel X-ray spectroscopy techniques and his scientific interests include studies of the structure of water and aqueous solution, active centers in metalloproteins, two-dimensional nanomaterials and imaging of ancient documents and fossils.

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