Berkeley names Nobel laureate Steven Chu as next director

The University of California (UC) Board of Regents has named Steven Chu, professor in the physics and applied-physics departments at Stanford University and a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, as director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). Chu, who earned his doctorate from UC Berkeley, is currently the Theodore and Francis Geballe Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Stanford, where he has been on the faculty since 1987. He will be the sixth director of the LBNL, which is managed by the University of California, and will take office on 1 August.

"Steve Chu brings to this position outstanding leadership qualities and a record of superior achievement in science," said UC president Robert C Dynes. "His combination of skills is precisely what we need to keep the LBNL at the forefront of scientific excellence and to guide the lab wisely through the upcoming potential contract competition." Chu is taking over from Charles Shank, who will take a sabbatical and then return to the UC Berkeley campus to continue teaching and research.

Chu was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997, together with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William D Phillips, "for the development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light". Beginning in 1989, Chu expanded his research scope to include polymer physics and biophysics at the single-molecule level. At Stanford, with three other professors, Chu initiated Bio-X, a campus-wide initiative that brings together researchers from the physical and biological sciences with those from engineering and medicine. He also played a key role in establishing and funding the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford.

Charles Shank, the outgoing director of LBNL, visited CERN on 26 May. His tour included visits to the ATLAS experiment's assembly hall, the test-beam facility for many of the experiment's components, and the underground cavern where he saw progress in installation.

LBNL is making important contributions to the ATLAS Inner Detector, in particular for the silicon strip and pixel detectors that will sit closest to the interaction region in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Here Shank (right) is seen in the cleanroom facility for the Inner Detector together with Kevin Einsweiler from the Pixel System group at LBNL. Shank also visited the assembly hall for the CMS experiment and the test facility for the LHC magnets.

Forty years of synchrotron radiation research

On 19 May 250 guests from all over the world joined DESY in celebrating the anniversary of the laboratory's work with synchrotron radiation. "The first measurements with the light beam from the DESY ring accelerator started in 1964. DESY was one of the laboratories in which the worldwide success story of research with synchrotron radiation began," Albrecht Wagner, DESY's director-general, explained in his welcoming address. Today, more than 1900 scientists from 31 countries come to DESY each year to carry out experiments with synchrotron radiation.

At the beginning of the 1960s the intense radiation generated when accelerated electrons travel around a curved path was regarded by physicists at DESY and elsewhere as an unwanted, disruptive effect. Early on, however, Peter Stähelin, the research director at the time, recognized the experimental opportunities offered by synchrotron radiation. In 1962 he instructed the young physicist Ruprecht Haensel to fathom out the perspectives of the new light source for his PhD thesis. After much pioneering work, measurements with synchrotron radiation finally began at the electron synchrotron in 1964.

Stähelin's plan succeeded; more and more scientists from various fields began to analyse their samples with synchrotron radiation. The larger storage ring DORIS began operation in 1974, initially providing experimental opportunities for both the particle-physics community and the users of synchrotron radiation. Since 1993 DORIS has been used exclusively as a dedicated radiation source. Another important step came in 1980 with the establishment of the Hamburg Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, HASYLAB, which maintains a large experimental hall with 40 measuring stations at DORIS and three test measuring stations for hard X-ray radiation at the PETRA synchrotron.

The future of research with synchrotron light at DESY looks equally promising. From 2007 onwards PETRA will be converted into the most brilliant storage-ring-based X-ray source in the world. Starting in 2005 a 260 m long free-electron laser, VUV-FEL, will provide radiation in the vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) and the soft X-ray range. At the same time the FEL will serve as a prototype for the 3.3 km long European X-ray Free-Electron Laser, XFEL, which will produce even shorter wavelengths in the X-ray range and start operation in 2012.

XFEL was approved by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research in February 2003 on condition that it should be realized as a European project, with 50 percent of the costs born by the partner states. Negotiations with interested European states are now well underway.

The 2003 prize of the Association of the Friends and Sponsors of DESY for the best PhD thesis covering DESY research has been awarded to Jürgen Wendland (left) from the Simon Fraser University in Canada, for work carried out on the HERMES experiment at HERA. His thesis, "Polarized Parton Distributions Measured at the HERMES Experiment", has made a decisive contribution to the explanation of the proton spin. Wendland determined the spin contributions of the quarks separately for each type of quark, and has been able to show for the first time that "sea" quarks and antiquarks clearly contribute to the spin of the proton to only a minor degree. This suggests that the gluons are an important source of the proton spin. Here Wendland is shown receiving the prize from Erich Lohrmann, the chairman of the association.