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Interview of Frank Fradin by Catherine Westfall on 2012 June 18,
Niels Bohr Library & Archives, American Institute of Physics,
College Park, MD USA,
For multiple citations, "AIP" is the preferred abbreviation for the location.
Dr. Fradin, in semi-retirement at the time of the interview, came to Argonne National Laboratory in 1967. In the course of his career he did materials science research and had various management jobs, including serving as an Associate Laboratory director. In this interview he talks about the evolution of the materials science program at Argonne as well as the advent of the Advanced Photo Source (APS). Near the end of the interview he discusses the status and future of large materials science facilities, including APS.
This is Catherine Westfall, and I am speaking with Frank Fradin. It’s the 18th of June, 2012, and we are at Argonne. So, I just found “A Brief History of Materials, R&D at Argonne National Lab from the Met Lab to Circa 1995” on the Argonne website. It talks about these material research centers. And at about this time, Oliver Simpson is leading the team in the Chemistry Division and it’s called the Solid-State Group. Now, where were you during that period? Does that predate your time?
That predates my time. There was a Solid-State Science Division headed by Oliver Simpson when I first came to Argonne.
1959 is what the article says. It says it starts in chemistry and then it becomes…
Yeah, I came here in ‘67, so I don’t know about ‘59.
Okay. But there are these roots that go back to it being a part of the Chemistry Division, and article does talk a lot about how this was part of reactor R&D effort. And I notice, even at the later time you had some interaction with materials work that had to do with reactors.
Yeah, there was always work going on, both in what was the metallurgy or Material Science Division and in the Solid-State Science Division that had to do with reactors. There were radiation damage programs in materials, the effect of various kinds of ionizing radiation on materials. There was also a health program going on in the transuranics to understand uranium, plutonium, neptunium, and so forth, and their physical properties and how they affect reactor operations. But those programs were sort of holdovers from an earlier period, and really both the Solid-State Science Division and the Material Science Division broadened their perspectives tremendously, especially as we moved out of the Atomic Energy Commission era into the ERDA era and into the DOE era.
That was in ‘74 or ‘75.
There was a considerable broadening of programs’ activities in subjects like superconductivity, magnetism, thin film behavior of materials, all of these vast array of new things were beginning and flowering in both the Solid-State Science Division and in the Material Science Division. For example, IPNS grew out of efforts of the neutron scattering activities, which were ongoing at CP5, the research reactor here, and there were active neutron scattering groups, both in the Solid-State Science Division and in the Material Science Division. And when Ken Kliewer was the Associate Lab Director, he worked to combine these into one very large division that included the entire Solid-State Science Division, the Material Science Division, both its Basic Research half and its Applied Technology half. So there was a very large division that formed under Brian Frost at that time.
Okay, so this is before. And was this the Material Science and Technology Division?
Right. That was named the Material Science Technology Division.
Previously there was a Solid-State Division and a Materials…
Well, it had various names. The Materials Research was called Metallurgy, sometimes it’s called Material Science, but it was a very large division that had maybe 60% of it in applied technology work. A lot of it focused on reactor materials. And perhaps 40% was focused on the basic research activities in materials. I ran the basic research side of that division under Brian Frost. And then when they were all combined, now you had a division that was maybe 60/40 the other way — I don’t know, I don’t remember the numbers. And that’s when it was the Material Science and Technology Division. So there was an integration of neutron scattering groups and integration of thin film science groups and integration of superconductivity activities and things like that that went on when the division was combined. And the few years after that, I don’t remember, perhaps two years later, the division was broken up and the materials technology part went off under Dick Weeks. I was the head of the Material Science Division, and Dick Weeks was head of the Materials Technology Division.
And then what happened?
Later I became the Associate Lab Director under Norman Brodsky, acting.
I got it. Okay. So this is happening sort of in just a few-years period.
Yeah, it was first formed and then broken again in a different way. But the solid-state science and material science stayed together, and IPNS grew out of that, and some years later the Advanced Photon Source (APS) grew out of the group under Gopal Shenoy and that division, plus the group under Yang Cho in High-Energy Physics, the accelerator group.
Right. So to first look at the IPNS, now the IPNS became its own division, but it had experimenters that were working in… how did that work?
Well, in the early stages of the IPNS, probably the first ten years of its existence, all the neutron scattering scientists, or most of the neutron scattering scientists who were in charge of instruments at the IPNS were actually situated in the Material Science Division. They were in the neutron scattering group, and they led double lives. They were still responsible for doing science in the Material Science Division with neutron scattering, but they were also responsible in the early stages for designing instruments for IPNS and to be instrument scientists to help users, because this was a national user facility to help users to get experiments on the IPNS. So they led a double life. These were people like Jim Jorgensen and John Fletcher and Dave Price.
They did all that great work. Right.
They were doing both things. So it was actually a wonderful time for material science because we not only had the broad research program going on here, but we had this direct access into IPNS. When high temperature superconductors came along in the late ‘80s we could make a new superconductor in material science, and Jim Jorgensen could have it measured at IPNS the next day. I mean it was a wonderful time. And science really flowered here. So there were these wonderful payoffs from it. So IPNS developed along those lines, and it had quite a lengthy run before it was finally surpassed by the facility Oak Ridge. But you know, and I’m sure Jack Carpenter talked to you about this, the early stages of ZING-P and ZING-P’, the forerunners of IPNS, it was people like Jack and David Price and others who started doing experiments at the old CP5. Instead of doing angle-resolved types of experiments, they were doing time-resolved experiments with choppers at the CP5, because they were starting to think about, “What are we going to do after reactors?” It was pretty clear another big reactor wasn’t going to be built at Argonne.
Right. And pretty soon it got to be clear it wasn’t going to be built at Oak Ridge, either. [Laughs.]
That was quite a few years later. That was maybe twenty years later, or fifteen.
Well the A2R2 project went down the tubes.
Yeah, that went down just about the time I came to the lab. That was around ‘67. So everybody knew the reactor days were done.
Yeah, the research reactor days. And actually, coincidentally, the civilian nuclear reactor program wasn’t healthy. It would not be discontinued out at Argonne West until ‘94.
Yeah, it was a long time later, but it eventually happened. So that’s when Jack started designing this little accelerator facility that we called ZING-P and ZING-P’ before IPNS, and then the proposal was put together at DOE to actually build IPNS. And in later years, we had a proposal to build what was essentially the Oak Ridge machine that finally got built, the Spallation Neutron Source. And many of the people here were in fact the people who had put in the brainpower to build that machine in Oak Ridge. So, you know, we just built at IPNS and everybody stopped thinking about the future. There were designs on the table, very detailed designs for the next generation.
And then the growth of APS out of material science was very similar. Ken Kliewer when he was the Associate Lab Director —
He was key for both, wasn’t he?
He wasn’t a key for IPNS. Before he ever came to Argonne, that was already in the mill. Ken came… I’m trying to remember what year he came to Argonne, then.
He worked under Walter Massey, when Massey was laboratory director, I believe.
Where is he these days?
I do not know. I know him from documents; I’ve never talked to him. Jack speaks very fondly of Ken. Ken was very supportive.
Ken was supportive, because you know when Massey was here, there was this famous Brinkman Committee, way after IPNS got started.
That was the committee under Walter Brinkman. They almost stopped it!
Indeed, the Brinkman Committee said, this is the lowest priority… They don’t want to salvage it, but if we have to hold to this budget figure for the total DOE neutron scattering complex, IPNS should be shut off. And Walter Massey, to his credit, said we’re not shutting it off.
He really went to the mat for it, and Ken Kliewer helped.
Both were certainly very supporting of getting it to have a life.
Right, to come to life. It actually a death sentence before it actually started, because that…
Yes. Everybody was worried then.
And everybody continued to be worried, even up through the time of the high temperature superconductivity excitement.
Well, everybody worried. I mean I was associate lab director then. Ken Kliewer had left shortly after the APS got started, and I became the associate lab director. The IPNS suffered from its own success. On every measure of science per buck, or science per neutron, or science per anything, it outperformed the research reactors at Oak Ridge and Brookhaven, and certainly outperformed the accelerator facility at Los Alamos, which came onboard with weapons money. But it suffered from success. The more they cut the budget, the more we produced. So they did the natural thing: they cut the budget some more, and we would produce more [chuckles]. And of course it eventually caught up, and we had to tell them that we would take instruments offline from the user program if the budgets were continued to be cut. But I would say that it’s a healthy tension. All facilities should face that same kind of thing. They should be asked, “What can you do with less money?” And that should be asked of every program at a national lab, because people get fat and happy when they have too much money. And so, you know, I think there’s good tension between the funding agency and the labs in terms of what can you produce? What can you produce for this amount of money? What can you produce for 99% of this amount of money? 90%? It’s always… I think it’s good tension.
Well see, the wonderful thing about material science, when labs invest in material science, is that twofold I would say, is that on the one hand, it’s not an all or nothing kind of proposition like it is in high-energy physics.
You mean like, build a supercollider or don’t build a supercollider?
Yes, you need the big machine to advance the field, you know?
Yeah, in high-energy physics it’s all about the big machine.
In addition, materials science accelerators have practical applications.
There are certainly practical applications. There are a lot of spinoff companies and all kinds of license agreements and things like that. But material science is basically small science.
Or a different kind of large-scale science. It’s just not the same.
But I mean really, if you look at a typical high-energy physics publication, there will be two hundred authors on it. A typical materials science publication, there will be five authors on it.
It’s more like five hundred to a thousand authors. But yeah, I get your point.
Yeah. And for example, it’s not unusual for a high-energy physics PhD to have never collected any data; to just have written software programs to do some kind of analysis of data that comes off a machine. Whereas for material science, nobody’s ever going to get a PhD in solid-state physics or solid-state chemistry without actually having taken a project to completion. To make a material, look at it, study its physical properties, understand why it’s behaving the way it does, and that’s a very different kind of academic training, a very different kind of research that you’re involved in.
Okay. Before we get more into that, which I’m very interested in, let’s go back to our chronology. Because one of the things that I don’t quite understand is what’s happening at Argonne in 1982. The IPNS is just struggling into existence in the ‘82-‘83 time period. David Moncton, who was then at Brookhaven was knocking around ideas that he said later gave rise to the Advanced Photon Source.
So you’ve interviewed David, right?
Oh, yes. That’s where I got that piece of information, among others. When I look at that period of time, it looks like in the Material Science and Technology Division you have a little bit of work with people who are going into SSRL, NSLS and all that. But it’s a tiny piece of the work you’re doing. Most of the work is on other subjects. As a matter of fact, Gopal Shenoy at that period is still working on Mossbauer Spectroscopy, and they were doing work with plutonium and transuranics, right?
No, you’re absolutely right. You would not have selected Argonne as a place to build a synchrotron for light studies, for x-ray studies. There was no history of building those kinds of accelerators here. There was no history of major involvement with synchrotron science from material science. There was just a little puttering around. Gopal Shenoy and I and a few other people were doing a few little things with it. We were just getting our toes in the water. And Ken Kliewer had the chutzpah or whatever you want to call it to come in here and basically say, “We should go for the next-generation synchrotron that’s built. The next x-ray synchrotron.”
That is interesting. In 1983 you have the Eisenberge-Knotek Committee, which was formed to fund Berkeley’s Advanced Light Source. I know for a fact, I’ve talked with them, I’ve talked with a lot of people, that’s what it was formed to do. But then Moncton and other people come, and all of the sudden they’re talking about a 6 GeV accelerator — not the little soft x-ray machine, but a hard x-ray machine.
Right. David I think was at Exxon at that time. I’m trying to remember. I think he might have been at Exxon at that time, or was he still at Bell Labs? I can’t remember. At any rate, he was going back and forth between Bell and Brookhaven all the time to do experiments.
And not happy with the way the NSLS was running.
So what basically happened is that the guys who were mainly interested in hard x-ray science, like Peter Eisenberger and Dave Moncton, a bunch of other guys at Bell Labs kind of put a big push on to say, “We shouldn’t just build a soft x-ray machine, but we should build the 6 GeV synchrotron to do hard x-ray science.” Which clearly that has a much broader impact of materials research of all sorts, and even biological research and other things. You know, protein crystallography and so forth. So there were these national committees. You mentioned one.
And then was the very next step. Well, Cho says that he sees the letter that was produced by the Eisenberge-Knotek Committee recommending that a 6 GeV machine be built —they wrote a quick letter explaining the results of the meeting that had been held just the month before—and he sees that, and the light bulb goes on over his head and he says Argonne should build this. His memory is he’s sitting in the Aladdin control tower because Aladdin was having troubles at the time, and then he goes and speaks with Argonne director Alan Schriesheim, and that’s how things get started. Is that right, so far as you know?
The things that you just said, I don’t know any of those facts personally, other than it was true that Aladdin was having problems and a group from our high-energy physics accelerator group went to the lab to try and get things straightened out and up again. But I can’t say it’s right or it’s wrong. I have no knowledge.
And neither could Schriesheim — Schriesheim couldn’t exactly remember. I’m sure that Cho did that, but the question was, was that the only thing that was going on? And I suspect that Kliewer somehow got into it. Your memory is that you heard about it from Kliewer, right?
Well Kliewer basically had under him both High-Energy Physics and Material Science Division as ALD, and he got us together. He got the accelerator group from High-Energy Physics together with synchrotron people in Material Science — this is Gopal and company — and said, “Let’s sit down and see if we can make a case for the 6 GeV synchrotron.” The first step is to write a scientific case for such a machine. And he tasked Gopal’s group to write the scientific case, and he tasked Cho’s group with coming up with preliminary, back-of-the-envelope kind of design for what the accelerator would be.
Which they did.
And that’s my memory of how it got started.
Yes, and the documents certainly would back that up. And so in March of ‘84, which is not very many months later, there’s the Seitz-Eastman Committee, and Kliewer gives a presentation. And it’s amazing to look at, because there were a lot of other presentations. Stanford wanted to do it, Brookhaven wanted to do it, several others wanted to do it. And by that time, because they had started giving such presentations for the Eisenberge-Knotek committee, because they had already been talking about it and planning it for a while, they had much more complete plans.
They had been in the game. They had an x-ray machine at Stanford and one at Brookhaven.
Exactly, you’re exactly right. They had that going for them, too.
You don’t have those machines without thinking about the future.
Exactly. So they have these long complicated designs, and Kliewer comes with this little one design of a couple of pages. And he says, “Argonne has not been long involved in this world, but we want to do it.” And he makes the point, which turns out to be true, that users didn’t mind that it would be built here. It was lucky, in a way that Moncton did not want to build it at Brookhaven.
He was a little fed up with Brookhaven.
He would say that he was totally fed up with Brookhaven. And at some point he leaves Brookhaven for industry.
He joined Exxon’s science program, which is, in fact, where Schriesheim came from. He was director of Exxon labs.
Right. So it was this idea that people wanted to build it, but it wasn’t that there was a group that came up with the idea in the first place who was going to battle to have it at their home laboratory. And it looks like, to me, to a certain extent Argonne benefitted from that factor. Eventually there would be the Trivelpiece plan, but even before that, the other groups who might want to have built it had issues that got in the way. NSLS was having problems. Panofsky wasn’t sure.
He still had a high-energy physics lab.
And materials science was not high on his priorities list.
He was very much for it, just as long as it never got in the way. And he even said that. So, starting in the fall of 1984 there was a meeting in Ames, Iowa. And people from outside the lab who went to that say that that was when they begin to feel that between Shenoy and Cho and lots of others, Argonne really was starting to have a plan. It was really a serious plan. Cho begins to define the accelerator lattice, which you would really need to do as a first step. Shenoy really starts to look at how it could be used.
Yes. Also, Cho was very much involved in the wiggler and undulator business, designing wigglers and undulators. In fact a number of them were built early on and tested at Cornell. So people got serious about doing these things. And again, I give Ken Kliewer a lot of credit, because he was kind of the creative force that pushed this thing forward, got Schriesheim to back it in the sense of saying, “Yeah, this is something that Argonne could really do and do well.”
Okay, so Kliewer is very important. And Schriesheim remembers this time and says he knew that the civilian reactor effort just wasn’t healthy. And in fact, he calls Argonne at the time the “sick man” of the whole DOE system. And he knew that in order to keep vital, Argonne needed…
A big project.
…a big project.
Well he always said, at every management meeting I ever went to with Schriesheim, he always said: “Well he have priority 1A and B.” Everything else was second place or third place or whatever. And during this period it was the reactor program and the APS. In his words: “That’s where my attention’s going to be put. That’s where program development funds are going to be put,” and so forth.
And he really had discretionary funds, and that’s where he put them.
So it was really important. His support, in that sense, was…
You don’t get a project of that scale without the lab director strongly behind it. He’s got to go fight some battles in Washington. And we fought a lot of battles in Washington to get it funded. I know after Ken left and I was Associate Lab Director, there were many times that Al Schriesheim and Dave Moncton and I got on planes together and went to Washington, and we would just fan out: “You take this congressman and center and so forth. I’ll take this one, you take that one.” And we had meetings all set up in advance to see either them or their key staffers. Go into Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and see the key staffers in OMB. So there were a lot of battles. And you wouldn’t have been successful without the lab director’s involvement.
Yeah, well, the timing, you know, and it must have been a big shock when the Superconducting Supercollider (SSC) got cancelled in ‘93. And it seemed there was a last minute funding issue in the early ‘90s, too, with the Advanced Photon Source. But do you remember ever worrying that the Advanced would not be funded, I mean after it got started?
No. I never thought that. I think it was more a case during the construction phase of the APS. It was more a question of timing. In other words, would they stretch out the funding such that it would take an extra two or three years to get it built? And there’s inflation that gets built in there, so it’s going to cost more. Or could we keep the funding profile the way it was originally planned?
That’s always a problem.
And we managed to keep the funding profile pretty much the way it was planned, but there were a lot of battles to do that. Because any time you’ve got a big project, and they say, “Well, give them 40% less this year, and we’ll just stretch it out a couple more years.” It’s an easy move for Congress to make. But we were successful. You know, and at the same time, Al was fighting battles to keep Argonne West alive. I mean he was working the Congressional end of it. I mean of all the lab directors I’ve seen through the years here, he was by far the most active in Washington — by far. And including people before him that I had seen and people after him, he was by far the most active in Washington. I mean he would be in there schmoozing with Dick Durbin and Rostenkowski and all these people all the time. Yeah, he was effective.
What can you tell me about the evolution of the APS experimental program?
It’s such a broad program. Dave, after his Brookhaven experience, when he became the leader of the advanced photon source, he was very strong about getting the users involved very early on, and get them in charge of running beam lines as well. His plan was not to have all the beam lines run by Argonne and just have users walk in and walk out. He wanted commitments. Whether it was a university conglomerate or whether it was an industrial conglomerate or a mix, he wanted to see them actually come in with money and built the beam lines. You know, of course, through a very complex review process of what they were going to do and so forth. But he was very strong about that. And the fact that the program became as broad as it is, I think a lot was due to Dave Moncton’s view on how a user program should develop. The biological sciences, the applied materials, the basic materials, chemistry, atomic physics — all those things prospered because of how he said the user program should run. Of course, DOE has kind of backed off this vision, drawing more and more of the beam lines back into the central facility for their operation. But I don’t think the science would have taken off without Dave’s vision.
Yeah, what DOE has wanted is to have the beam lines controlled by DOE and not have NIH funding. Is that what you mean?
Well it’s not just NIH; it’s NSF. It’s everything. In the last ten years, I guess, DOE has wanted the beam line operations to be brought back under their control. This isn’t true in all cases. It hasn’t occurred on all the beam lines, but quite a few were brought the operation back into the central facility. The problem was, if you think about it, with a facility as big at the APS with the number of specialized beam lines that were built around it, it would be very hard to have enough staff in the central facility to both have the ingenious insights into that you need for all these different disciplines, all these different kinds of experiments, and to have the wherewithal in terms of people to do it all. By bringing all these outside groups in to become actual beam line managers and operational groups you could get a lot more science done. Of course they had to make time available for general users, too. But to get all the users in at first, just think of the dollar flow. I don’t know how many hundreds of millions of dollars of outside money basically came into Argonne to build beam lines and equipment. But clearly it would have been very difficult to have gotten all that money through DOE directly. So, you know, I think DOE, the reason why DOE started pulling back control had to do with what happened to NSLS after the APS was up and running and turning out science. A lot of people, a lot of organizations that have beam lines at the NSLS had made commitments to build beam lines at the APS. It was going to have a much higher flux. It was the first insertion of machine design for insertion devices rather than an afterthought.
Yeah. So a lot of them had commitments at the APS. And so what they did is, a lot of those beam lines at NSLS went dormant. Nothing was being done anymore. And DOE didn’t like that, for obvious reasons. So they knew that at NSLS they had to take those beam lines over so that everything was run by the Brookhaven central facility to make the beam lines viable again. And some were being stripped of equipment and it’s all coming here. So their view was it isn’t a tenable position to have outside groups building equipment. And then that view was extended to the APS, as well. So, I think it’s a bit shortsighted on their part, but I can understand the basis.
Interesting. Can you tell me anything more about… I’ve heard that people were surprised at how much biological life science work has prospered, and particularly protein structure work. I wonder if you have anything to say about that or anything to explain about that.
I think it’s wonderful. I mean I guess if you sit with a narrow view from Basic Energy Sciences at DOE, you might say, “We’re putting all the money in this facility and the biologists are getting all the glory” But I mean when you build a facility, good scientists are going to ask, “What can we do? Can we advance our science with this facility?” And look, protein crystallography is a very old science. It used to be all rotating anodes and things like that. But they went into the business here in a significant way with a number of beam lines that they were encouraged to put together, and a lot of them were put together with NIH money. And the idea that Argonne was going to submit a proposal for a protein production facility to be built as another building near the APS. All of these things, to my mind, are the flowering of science — there should be many flowers that bloom. And you know, it’s important science. They’re doing some wonderful work in that area.
Are there various complications with the inter-disciplinarily of the machine in any way?
Not from a scientist’s point of view. I think from the funding agencies, all of these funding agencies are always concerned that they get the proper credit for everything that gets done. So you know, there’s some pettiness in Germantown over what goes on at these facilities. But I think they ought to look at it the other way. Look at one of our great supporters, NIH is going to be willing to stand up and say, “You can’t let the APS not run properly,” because they’re depending on it. So I think they should look at it from the leveraging that they get.
Well I’ve been to a couple of APS users’ meetings, and scientists still work in pretty small teams, and sometimes… I mean it’s really different than other kinds of accelerator users. I mean sometimes they’ll work on a particular beam line and they can be working in completely different fields, but they’re just working on the same instrument.
Yeah, well, that’s very true. It’s not like high-energy physics. It’s nothing like high-energy physics. In a way, it’s not even like nuclear physics. You know, in nuclear physics, they do beam lines, and they do experiments at accelerators. What did you say, you were doing the Jefferson Lab thing? But even there, you tend to have a single experiment that will have quite a large number of people, and it’s focused on that one experiment. Whereas here at the APS…
Actually, I was just talking to them about their current experimental program, and they said, “Oh, well, you know, we have this incredible diversity,” because with their big detector, it’s more like a high-energy physics experiments where they have a lot of people using it, but then they have these little experiments in some of the other halls. And I was saying, “You know, compared to the APS, it isn’t diverse. Compared to Fermilab it’s diverse.” [Laughs]
Yeah, I mean just the culture, the different scientists, and what they need to get together as teams to succeed. I remember when Hermann Grunder was the lab director here after Eastman and Schriesheim, and he was still trying to get this Rare Isotope Accelerator here rather than at Michigan State, and there was some big meeting in his conference room over, some group of outside people had come, and he asked me to answer questions. Somebody asked, “Well how many experiments could you have simultaneously at APS at one time?” And I answered the question and told him about how many beam lines there were and how many different experiments could be running simultaneously, and you know, it was a number of order a hundred or something. And then the guy’s secondary question was, “Well, how many would be able to run at the Rare Isotope Accelerator if it was built here simultaneously?” And I said, “Well it’s a number you could measure with a hand or two. Maybe it’s four or five or six or seven.” And Grunder almost threw a brick at me for saying that, but it’s true. That’s what you were going to do. You’re not going to run a hundred experiments simultaneously there. It just can’t be done. It’s the nature of the different experiments. But that’s not the answer Grunder wanted. He wanted me to tell them it was going to be a hundred experiments on that, too, but it’s not true.
How about the future of the APS? What do you see?
Well, you know, clearly these experiments going on now at Stanford Lincear Coherent Light Source (LCLS), these experiments going on to the next generation of coherency, clearly it’s a test bed at Stanford—that’s not by any means a final instrument. But that sort of point to the next generation. Not, “What are you going to do next?” but, “What are you going to do after next?” You know. They’re sort of pointing the way. And like you would have expected, there were plans here to propose to build a linear coherent light source at Argonne. It would actually be large enough that it would be partially off the site. But for reasons I never really understood, because I never really understood Grunder, he didn’t want to see Argonne doing that. So to some extent, Argonne is now, probably because of that, in a position a bit the way Brookhaven was with NSLS. We have the best current machine, but the future, what comes after next isn’t clear in the synchrotron world. I think right now it’s much more likely that a real linear coherent light source will be built somewhere in California, is my bet. I think right now, the APS has a very healthy user program, very strong basis for going forward. When it comes to the upgrade that they’re planning to do, it was never clear to me exactly what they’re doing. It always seems like it’s a different picture every time I hear it, so I really can’t comment on it. But I think they’re going to be in a healthy position, probably for a good ten years. After that, I don’t know. One of the problems of the linear coherent light source is you’re never going to be able to build as many kinds of beam lines off of it as you have in a machine like this, just from the geometric way that you generate the final coherent x-rays. But on the other hand, they’ll probably be able to do some things that you can only dream of today. So I think it’s healthy now, but what will be the long-term feature? It’s hard to say. And look at NSLS, it’s still running.
Right. Yeah, they just had a major upgrade too.
And Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Light source (SSRL) is still running, right? So obviously there are a lot of people in this country interested in doing synchrotron science, and it’s very different than neutrons where it always seems like you only afford to keep one or two going. And I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the neutron scattering community is very small compared to the synchrotron community.
I was astonished to see how few users the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) at Oak Ridge has.
Yeah. Well they’re also still running their research reactor, right? In fact, I know personally that some of the Oak Ridge people are digging in their heels about moving over to do experiments at the SNS. So even at Oak Ridge where it’s right there, there are people digging in their heels. I don’t know. The reason probably is, every scientist, whether you’re in chemistry or biology or material science or solid-state physics, almost every single person in this country who gets even in an undergraduate degree has probably been exposed to x-ray scanners. Just diffraction with a tube in a lab. They all have it as part of their background. So it’s pretty easy to think about how you could build to a much more powerful technique. Whereas almost nobody’s been exposed to neutron scattering in their training. If you haven’t done a PhD specifically using neutrons, you probably never did a neutron scattering experiment anywhere in your academic training. So to make that move requires a little bit of an energy barrier they have to get over to pick that up as part of their portfolio of techniques.
Does that go for biologists and all these other kinds of…?
A lot of biologists do x-ray scattering in their training. A lot of chemists do x-ray scattering in their training. So it’s a lot more universal than neutron scattering.
Okay. Thank you very much.