LCLS Experiments - an update

By pjones
May 20, 2020

An open letter to LCLS Users from Mike Dunne

LCLS is currently undertaking the task of rescheduling Run 18 in the COVID-19 era. While many specifics are still unknown, we would like to share our current understanding with our User Community to facilitate planning for upcoming experiments.

Our approach will be guided by the following points:

  1. The health and safety of our staff, users and visitors is paramount.
  2. We will seek to maximize the scientific impact from LCLS, and to minimize the risk of an experiment failing due to constraints arising from the COVID-19 situation.
  3. Access to SLAC will likely be restricted for an extended period of time in order to comply with SLAC/DOE, County, State, and/or U.S. National health directives and travel restrictions.
  4. Details of these restrictions are unpredictable, but will inevitably present challenges to the user program at LCLS. Where possible, LCLS will work to enable “remote access / mail-in” experiments, allowing a user team to participate with limited or no on-site presence. This is not ideal, and is not practical in some cases (e.g. due to the need for specific on-site sample preparation expertise).
  5. LCLS is exploring options for how we can augment the local team to maximize our ability to field experiments. Collaborative involvement of other on-site researchers is one option that will be offered to users (such as from the SLAC/Stanford PULSE Institute).
  6. The detailed LCLS Run 18 schedule is currently being determined, with experiments expected to begin in August 2020. We seek to publish an initial schedule by mid-June, taking the into account the following:
  • User Input: LCLS will be reaching out to the spokespeople for each proposal previously scheduled in Run 18. We will seek input on logistical constraints, on-site and remote worker requirements, the enduring timeliness of the proposal, and any requests to refresh the scientific focus on the experiments (given that significant time has elapsed since the proposals were submitted). Changes to scientific content will be approved at the discretion of the LCLS Director.
  • Additional experiments: New COVID-19 research proposals will be given priority access. Note there is currently an open call for proposals
  • Strategic approach: We will continue to seek direction from DOE-BES, and advice from the LCLS Users Executive Committee (UEC) and Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC).
  • Duration of experiments: Because of site access restrictions and the ES&H protocols associated with COVID-19, more time will be required for experimental setup and execution.
  • Next call for proposals: Due to the length of time since the call for proposals for Run 18, and the updated capabilities of LCLS that have been established in the meantime, we believe that a call for Run 19 proposals should be issued in CY2020, allowing experiments to start in early 2021.

Taken together, there will be fewer experiments scheduled in Run 18. Experiments that are not compatible with Run 18 constraints can be resubmitted and/or updated for the call for Run 19.

Next steps: Users who were scheduled in the original Run 18 will be contacted by their LCLS Point of Contact (POC) before the end of May to better understand how their experiments can be performed within the expected constraints. Please work with our POCs, and understand that this is still a very dynamic situation and things will inevitably change. I hope you understand LCLS is doing everything possible to resume world class science, and to ensure the health and safety of our staff and users.

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions. Best wishes to all. Stay safe and healthy!

Mike Dunne, LCLS Director