Dear CHESS Community,
Operations at CHESS resumed this month. During the long summer shutdown the contractors successfully built the foundation, heavy concrete shield walls, and beamline penetrations for the new experimental hall while our staff completed the CESR modifications required for the High Magnetic Field beamline facility. Both projects were technically complex and had very aggressive timelines. Both finished on or ahead of schedule.
I want to thank the countless people who worked on this incredible project. It certainly was not easy, but somehow, our people made it happen. I am always amazed by their technical prowess, professionalism, and ability to deliver projects on time and on budget.
This month’s newsletter highlights the work that took place this summer, particularly the precise coordination and communication needed to complete a year’s worth of construction in only four months’ time.
We highlight new funding from the Office of Naval Research. Our staff scientists, Kelly Nygren and Kate Shanks, have started a project that will develop strategies for optimizing data collection, processing, and analysis. We feature a highlight from FAST, in which researchers offer new insights into dwell fatigue in titanium. A new robotic arm is also being commissioned at our Structural Materials Beamline, enabling new state-of-the art experiments.
Although things are going great, there are very challenging times ahead. The oversubscription rate for our general user program jumped from about 2 to about 4 this fall and is expected to increase further as the APS-U shutdown begins in the spring of 2023 and energy shortages challenge operations at European facilities. Worldwide, competition for X-ray beamtime at high-energy synchrotron facilities is going to intensify for at least the next year. Locally, although some additional funding came through, NSF was not able to fully fund CHEXS operations in the current grant year (ending March 31st, 2023). The result is that the FAST and HP-BIO beamlines will be available for 100 rather than 125 user days. These figures are reflected in the fall 2022 and winter 2023 beamtime allocations. In the next grant year (the year beginning April 1st, 2023), the FAST and HP-BIO beamlines are funded for 55 user days. I am hopeful that, if Congress passes a budget, NSF may be able to provide some additional funding for user operations. Stay tuned.
Looking forward to seeing you around the lab,