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Press Release: Stöhr to Direct Synchrotron Radiation Lab

Date Issued: September 27, 2005




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Stanford Professor Joachim Stöhr, an innovative x-ray scientist, will become the new director of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL) on Oct. 1.

Deputy director of SSRL since 2000, Stöhr will be the fourth director in the pioneering laboratory's 32-year history.

"I'm looking forward to continuing to attract the best scientists to our outstanding facilities to produce basic and applied research with tremendous benefits for society," said Stöhr.

A Division of the Department of Energy's Stanford Linear Accelerator Center in Menlo Park, SSRL provides experimental facilities to approximately 2,000 scientists from universities, industries and other laboratories. Using synchrotron radiation—light at x-ray to ultraviolet wavelengths—the scientists carry out breakthrough research related to drug design, environmental cleanup, electronics, and many other fields.

"We're fortunate to have such an outstanding scientist with excellent leadership experience become the new leader for SSRL," said outgoing SSRL Director Keith Hodgson. "Jo has a world of experience in studying and understanding the behavior of magnetic materials, particularly with applications to the electronics industry."

In May, Hodgson became a deputy director of SLAC as well as director of the new Photon Science Directorate. Photon science will have a dramatically expanding role at SLAC. SSRL, Linac Coherent Light Source, which will be the world's first hard x-ray free electron laser, and the new Stanford Ultrafast Science Center will give SLAC an unparalleled range of experimental facilities.

"Keith Hodgson is an outstanding scientist and one of the driving forces in world synchrotron radiation research," said Raymond L. Orbach, director of the DOE Office of Science. "On behalf of the Department of Energy, I would like to thank Keith for the outstanding job he did as director of SSRL for the past seven years and to wish him every success in his new position as deputy director of SLAC and director of the Photon Science Directorate."

Jo Stöhr is well known for his leading studies in magnetic materials. His recent work has set a "speed limit" on the speed at which magnetized bits can change direction, which has a direct impact on information storage in computers.

"I am delighted that Jo Stöhr will be the new director; he is exceptionally qualified to lead SSRL at a very exciting time in science," said Patricia Dehmer, DOE's associate director of science for the Office of Basic Energy Sciences. "SSRL is a tremendous asset to our nation; it advances science in materials, chemistry, the environment, geology, and structural biology."

Stöhr received his mater's degree at Washington State University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar from 1969 to 1971. He completed his doctoral thesis in his native country, Germany, at the Technical University in Munich in 1974. During his postdoctorate study at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, he participated in the early days of synchrotron radiation experiments at SSRL.

"This exciting time marked the beginning of my long love of synchrotron radiation research," Stöhr said.

Stöhr has continuously developed new techniques to do previously inaccessible science throughout his career, which started at SSRL in 1977, moved to EXXON, then the IBM Almaden Research Center, and back to SSRL as deputy director and professor. His work has focused on exploring the use of soft x-ray synchrotron radiation which has become particularly important in areas such as surface science and magnetism. The early work at SSRL also helped stimulate planning for the Advanced Light Source synchrotron laboratory in Berkeley.

Techniques developed by Stöhr helped determine the geometric arrangement and bonding of atoms, molecules and thin organic films on surfaces, and among other things solved a 90-year-old puzzle: the origin of liquid crystal alignment on rubbed polymer films, used in flat panel displays. That research led to new materials and processes for use in tomorrow's flat panel displays. More recently he has developed soft x-ray imaging techniques of magnetic nanostructures.

Stöhr has also been acting head of the new Ultrafast Science Center, a joint SLAC and Stanford project to develop groundbreaking experiments for the LCLS free electron laser. He still leads SSRL's X-Ray Laboratory for Advanced Materials, which has close ties to the Geballe Laboratory for Advanced Materials on Stanford campus.

by Heather Rock Woods

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