Education in synchrotron

A new year is always a good time to try something new, and because we’re all stuck home because of the pandemic, it’s also a good occasion to learn more about some topics in science. I’ve consolidated here some resources that I have enjoyed over the years, or that are not easily accessible (the information about x-rays tend to be scattered, which is something x-ray do very well)

To get started, I recommend going through the free course by Philip Wilmott from PSI on EdX: Synchrotrons and X-Ray Free Electron Lasers. It is pretty comprehensive and covers a lot of the basis of x-ray science; it’s basically a boiled down version of the companion book “An Introduction to Synchrotron Radiation: Techniques and Applications” he wrote in 2011. This would take probably a week full-time, but you can probably stretch them over a few month if you’re not into binge watch (but it is probably as captivating as the Queen’s Gambit.)

The blue glow of the synchrotron radiation (AW 2020)

To mention also: if you’re a grad student working with synchrotrons, I would recommend applying for the three-week National School on Neutron and X-ray Scattering, generally at Argonne National Lab in the summer, but online this time around. I’m not sure if they will increase their cap of 60 participants.

Light source 101

For the ALS User Meeting this year (held remotely), Fanny Rodolakis and Monika Blum organized a new edition of the Light Source 101 workshop, where beamline scientists from the Advanced Light Source explain their science. Luckily, these talks where recorded (they are available as bulk here), and I have edited them in sizeable, 30-min chunks about most of the cool techniques we offer.

They should soon be available on Youtube, but here they are in exclusivity:


Two years ago, Mark Sutton was invited at SLAC National Lab as a visiting scholar and graced us with a series of lecture on XPCS. Since I cannot find them online (but the recording are available), you can find the full course here:

X-Rays and coherence (Mark Sutton):

Books and references on synchrotron radiation

If you’re interested in learning about how synchrotrons themselves work, either because you’re working on a beamline and want to understand better of the magic works or because you’re about to build new beamlines for fourth generation synchrotrons, here’s a few book I recommend on the topic (with links to the Berkeley library if they exist, in case you happen to have access):

I found all these book interesting and complementary (I would rather read the Clarke over the Elleaume, and the Attwood over the Als-Nielsen, but perhaps because I deal with softer x-rays.)

For the interested reader, it might also be useful to look at how things work in electron microscopy. A good reference would be this one:

ESRF Online seminars

I find that the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility Youtube channel offers a bunch of great talks on state-of-the art x-ray science (more in hard x-rays, but extremely cool nonetheless.)

Global XAS Journal Club

The Global XAS Journal Club Youtube channel has a very interesting content on topics related to X-Ray Absorption Spectroscopy, one of the most active group I am aware of.


Picasso light painting (Life magazine)

If you have additional resources to recommend (e.g. online courses, books or even Youtube channel with interesting x-ray seminars), feel free to contact me. Let 2021 be extra bright!