Policy matters

It seems that US science may get a 50% boost very soon… If it happens, I am pretty sure amazing things will come out of it, given all the cool research I see happening these days.

Budget recommendations in the CHIPS and Science Act

1. Chips and science bill (voted, July 29, 2022)

–formerly COMPETES (House) and USICA (Senate)

https://www.energy.gov/articles/statement-secretary-granholm-congressional-passage-chips-and-science-act
“The legislation invests $67 billion in the Department of Energy, including a $50 billion authorization for DOE’s Office of Science to enable cutting-edge research and development in clean energy to fight the climate crisis and advanced computing and manufacturing to boost American competitiveness.”

2. Inflation Reduction Act (voted, August 16)

$300M for BES Science Facilities

3. FY2023: U.S. Senate calls for hefty research spending in 2023

Science magazine: U.S. Senate calls for hefty research spending in 2023

Hello, Chicago

I recently traveled to Argonne National Lab to meet with colleagues from the XSD-OPT team at the Advanced Photon Source.

Advanced Photon Source patio (July 2022)

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Ambient music

During the pandemic, I’ve been more and more into ambient music. Perhaps it’s the absence of lyrics, mirroring the absence of conversations due to social distancing, or simply the sheet beauty of long progression from nothing to nothing. In any cases, here are a few recommendations for your listening pleasure!

Ana Roxane – Because of a Flower

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Dream beam

I am very happy to announce that was granted en Early Career Research Award by the US Department of Energy, to work on the DREAM beam: Diffraction-limited Radiation Enhancement with Adaptive Mirrors for x-ray coherent beamlines.

Here are some news releases:

They may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one

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Competes

Yesterday we received a visit of the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who came to Berkeley lab for a press conference around the COMPETES act, which aims to bolster STEM education in the US and revive semiconductor manufacturing.

Full video: Speaker Pelosi Holds Event on America COMPETES Act

When people ask me what are the answers to some of the challenges that we face, I always say the same thing: Science, Science, Science and Science – Nancy Pelosi

We are quite honored that she chose the Advanced Light Source as backdrop for the announcement. There were also other congresswomen Barbara Lee and Doris Matsui, together with Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger and UC President Michael Drake.

Nancy Pelosi speaking in front of the Advanced Light Source

That day felt almost normal – I haven’t seen that many people from the lab in two years. And at the same time, the situation was quite absurd: me right here, among people with the power to change science, at the dawn of WWIII.

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Tandem listen

Songs have this ability to make me travel in the past. Every time I hear a song I like, I can associate a corresponding time in my life. This is very helpful to keep track of seasons, especially at a time where it’s hard to separate events from each other, where even the concept of event has become some blurry. I was going through my Spotify playlists lately , and each playlist tells a story: of elation, of break ups; of happiness and of sadness.

I also like to put songs together, to bend the passing of time and bring together eras and ideas. Here’s a list of tandem listen I curated. I hope you’ll enjoy these pairings!

I love skyrmions

Tandem #1: Obamas
No Man Is Big Enough for My Arms, Ibeyi
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzxDKqdfPr0
Una Rosa Blanca, Ibrahim Maalouf
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY2CGLWpkuI

Tandem #2: Strangers
Stranger, Anna van Hausswolff
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbjkjTsOKx8
Stranger, Portishead
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbSu2UM8kcQ

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Scientists on screen

There isn’t much representation of scientists in popular culture, with a only few movies standing out, such as a “A Beautiful Mind” (on John Nash) or “Good Will Hunting.” There’s been a few more in the biopic genre lately, such as the “Imitation Game” on Alan Turing or “The Theory of Everything” on Stephen Hawking, and soon a movie on Robert Oppenheimer by Chris Nolan.

But the representation of women in science and technology is even less frequent. Things seem to be changing, and during the pandemic there’s been a few biopics on women scientists, to which I want to bring attention to:

(credit: @truffleduster)

All of them have been deprived of a theatrical release, and I find it a bit sad they haven’t been delayed, but perhaps there’s been increased distribution through streaming platforms.
I should also mention slightly older movies such as “Hidden Figures“, “Contact“, “Arrival” and “Interstellar” – surprisingly all about space exploration.
Why can’t we see beakers, petri dishes and lasers?

Poetry interlude

During the pandemic, I had the leisure to read more poetry, and revisit some poems that I have enjoyed over the years. Here’s a small selection: they’re mostly about love, for it is the most pleasant subject of poetry and something that philosophy isn’t capable to treat seriously (see Poetry as philosophy in action.)

Waterfalls – Thomas Danthony

We’ll start by English poets, with Lord Byron, a giant of poetry (where I came to by way of Stendhal):

6.
Perhaps the workings of defiance stir
Within me—or perhaps a cold despair,
Brought on when ills habitually recur,
Perhaps a kinder clime, or purer air
(For even to this may change of soul refer,
And with light armour we may learn to bear),
Have taught me a strange quiet, which was not
The chief companion of a calmer lot.

Lord Byron – Epistle to Augusta

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Friendly podcasts

We’re almost out of the pandemic, and it seems that a lot of people around me are starting podcasts. Here are three podcasts from friends or looser acquaintances that I found very entertaining. Check them out!

  • A Slight Change of Plans, by Maya Shankar, where she interviews people who have been through a life changing episode.
  • Lab to Startup, by Naresh Sunkara, where he talks about how scientists can create successful startups, interviewing those who crossed the chasm, and listing all the resources available to trained scientists (incubators and other programs)
  • Am I normal, by Mona Chalabi, where she takes somehow very personal subjects and does a deep dive into the numbers and interviews people who have done their research!

tried and tested

I must confess I did try to start a podcast, inspired by my favorite French show “Remède à la mélancolie” (now reborn as “L’Embellie“) I did two episode, but I quickly realized that would take much more effort than I thought if I wanted to get anywhere…

Among other podcast I listen to regularly: Science en question and  Femmes puissantes (both in French, I hope there was an English version of these great shows! French public radio is awesome – see La black liste for excellent soul music and and Si l’Amerique m’etait contée for a history of America)

EUV lithography makes headlines

EUV lithography is now part of everything – including the chips in your iPhone 12 and beyond. I don’t know if it’s because of the chip shortage, the $50B investment of the US government in semiconductor manufacturing, or the realization that having a nearly monopolistic market with its biggest player in Taiwan, at the mercy of an invasion, but there’s a lot of press on EUV lithography right now (I’ve been talking about my work on the topic at Berkeley Lab here: SHARP and MET5, and shared some thoughts on Moore’s law here.)

Me at the inaugural Berkeley Lab Slam (2016), talking about EUV lithography

Here’s a few pieces:

In this story, ASML is the quiet powerhouse – they have a de facto monopoly (their stock rose 10x over the last 5 years) and they keep expanding (ASML opens new state-of-the-art R&D facility in Silicon Valley.) There’s been some hardball played here, with the US pressuring the European company not to sell their technology with China (Reuters), as if it made any sense.

Besides, I am stoked to see my former colleagues from the Center for X-Ray Optics receive recognition for their work!

I hope we’ll get to develop new techniques with x-rays using diffraction-limited beams to further the advances in semiconductors and microchips – skyrmions, superconductivity, memristors, and so many other cool things!

power spectral density of an EUV coherent beam reflected on a naturally rough surface going through an objective zoneplate with a topological charge of 1