Become a User

A step-by-step guide to the requirements for performing research at the APS.

Step 1: Getting Started

  1. Learn about APS Science and Find a Beamline
    Many beamlines are managed directly by the APS as part of X-ray Operations and Research. Others are managed by Collaborative Access Teams (CATs), which are made up of scientists from universities, industry, and research laboratories.

    There are two ways to access beamlines:

    • As a General User or Partner User: If your institution is not represented by a CAT, you can can submit a proposal to the APS requesting time as a General User or Partner User.
    • As a CAT member: If your institution affiliated with a CAT whose beamline is suitable for your research, you may be able to conduct your work at the facility as a CAT member. For more information, see Sectors and Research Groups. To check if your institution is a CAT member, see the list of institutions that have signed user agreements with the APS; the CAT affiliation is noted in parentheses. Note: CAT membership may apply only to a certain segment of an institution.

    The following suggestions will help you decide which beamline(s) are suitable.

    • Read about APS Science to find out what's possible.
    • Consult the Techniques Directory to see which beamlines support the techniques you need. (This directory lists techniques available to General Users; additional techniques may be available to CAT members.)
    • Search the APS Publications Database by beamline to see work done at the beamlines that interest you.
    • Communicate with beamline staff to decide which beamlines are suitable for your purposes. Detailed specifications and contact information for beamlines are provided in the Beamline Directory.

    If you need assistance determining which beamline(s) would provide the best fit for your experiment, the APS User Office would be glad to help. Call Susan Strasser at 630-252-5981 or send an e-mail.

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  2. Register as a User
    By registering, you initiate your request for approval to enter the Argonne site and to perform work at the APS.

    Argonne National Laboratory is a controlled-access facility. When you visit Argonne for the first time, you must obtain permission in advance. You may bring people who will not be doing hands-on work, but they must also be approved for access.

    All team members coming to the APS must register individually.

    Go to the APS User Portal to initiate your request for access.

    After you register, the User Office:

    • Notifies you of your badge number, which is required for submitting a General User proposal.
    • Begins process of establishing a user agreement between your institution and the APS, if an exisiting agreement does not apply.
    • Works with you to scheduled necessary training.
    • Arranges for you to receive a user badge when you arrive.

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  3. Submit an Experiment Proposal
    The General User Program (GUP) uses a web-based proposal system. For further information, check out the General User page.

    If you are eligible to be a Collaborative Access Team member, contact your CAT for application instructions.

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Step 2: Before You Arrive

  1. Arrange for Site Access
    To ensure that all team members will be allowed to enter the Argonne site, make sure that all these tasks are complete before you travel to the APS.

    Once the User Office receives your registration, we will work with you on these steps for gaining access. If you have not yet registered as a user, please see the Getting Started section.

    • Search for an Existing User Agreement
      Make sure each team member is covered by a User Agreement between his or her home institution and the APS.
    • Request a User Agreement
      If you don't see the institution you're looking for, or aren't sure, submit this questionnaire to begin the process of establishing an agreement.
    • Establish a User Account
      If needed, establish a user account to pay for proprietary time, supplies, shipping, services, etc.
    • Plan Your Arrival
      When you know which beamline you will be using and the dates of your beam time, contact the User Office. Special arrangements and training are required for your first visit.
    • Read User Orientation Study Guides
      To minimize the time needed for orientation when you arrive, read these study guides in advance. You'll get out to the experiment floor a lot faster.
    • Know Your Obligations
      Remind yourself of your obligations as an APS user.

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  2. Prepare for Your Experiment
    Complete staffing, shipping, and safety preparations in advance, to help your experiment begin promptly.
    • Arrange for Staffing
      Bring enough team members to fully utilize 24-hour beam time. All team members must have advance approval to enter Argonne.
    • Arrange for Shipping
      Follow the correct shipping procedure for your sample/material type to guarantee compliance with Argonne National Laboratory/U.S. Department of Energy requirements for shipping and handling. Contact your host beamline before sending shipments.

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  3. Learn about Visiting the APS
    When planning your trip, check the APS visitor's page for local maps, information about lodging, restaurants, travel, and other useful details.

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Step 3: When You Arrive

  1. Entering the Argonne Site
    You must enter by the main gate on Northgate Road. Normal business hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you will arrive at some other time (e.g., late at night or on a weekend), you must notify the User Office in advance to arrange for gate access.

    Upon reaching the gate, proceed to the Argonne Information Center, located just before the main gate on Northgate Road. You will be asked to show identification, and then you will be given a visitor's pass.

    Once you enter the site, you must go directly to the User Office in Building 401 for orientation and training. You may not enter the experiment hall until you have completed orientation.

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  2. Complete Training and Orientation
    At the User Office, you will take necessary training, verify information, and sign several forms. You may not conduct hands-on work at the APS until this process is complete. The User Office training staff will assist you with the following:

    Establish Current GERT Status
    All APS users and employees are required to have current General Employee Radiation Training (GERT). You will be asked to either:

    • Provide proof of current GERT training (a card indicating completion of GERT training at another Department of Energy facility within the past two years) OR
    • Successfully pass an on-site GERT exam.

    The GERT test must be given by User Office staff or an APS floor coordinator. A study guide for GERT is available online. GERT certification is valid for two years.

    Pass Orientation Quizzes
    These tests confirm that you have seen and understood information about the policies and safety procedures that you are expected to follow. You will save a lot of time if you read the study guides in advance.

    Review and Sign Forms
    A User Office staff member will review an orientation packet with you. You will be asked to:

    • Confirm the data provided on your registration form.
    • Confirm that you are covered by a signed user agreement between the institution sponsoring your work and the APS.

    Returning users may go directly to their beamline; any necessary training or retraining will be conducted there.

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  3. Find Your Beamline Contact
    The User Office staff will give you directions to the appropriate beamline. You must locate your beamline contact and complete a few more steps with him or her before you can begin your experiment.

    The information below is general to all beamlines. In addition, each beamline has specific requirements and operating procedures you must follow.

    Complete Sector Orientation
    Each sector (representing one or more beamlines) has a separate orientation covering issues specific to that sector. Your beamline contact will conduct this orientation. You must complete sector-specific orientation for each sector in which you work.

    Meet Your Floor Coordinator
    Your beamline contact will introduce you to your floor coordinator. The floor coordinators are APS employees who work rotating shifts 24 hours a day during user operations periods. They facilitate interactions between users and APS/Argonne in safety matters and in obtaining services.

    Complete Safety Assessments
    The floor coordinator will complete the paperwork authorizing you to begin your experiment. An approved Experiment Safety Assessment Form must be posted at the beamline before you can begin work.

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  4. Useful Links for Your Stay

    APS Computer Support FAQ

    Argonne Information:
    • Safety and emergency procedures
    • Home page (research areas, history)
    • A-Z index
    • Intranet (accessible from on-site computers): menus, services, resources

    User Community:

    Opportunities for networking with other users and APS staff, for example:

    On-site Amenities:

    • Food:
    • Souvenirs/gifts: Guest House
    • Exercise rooms:
      • Building 401 Room E0131, adjacent to the Gallery on the lower level of the APS auditorium; open to all employees and Argonne Guest House visitors. The facility has treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, steppers, skiers, weight machines, and free weights.
      • An exercise room is also located in the Guest House (for guest use only.)
      • Argonne recreation facilities
    • Lounge: Thursdays, Building 617
    • Libraries: Access to electronic journals and databases as well as traditional resources.
    • Shuttle: Transportation between Argonne and the University of Chicago

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Step 4: When You Leave (and After)

  1. Arrange for Outbound Shipping

    The services of Argonne's shipping department are available to APS users. Shipping costs, however, must be charged to an APS user account, so you should ensure that an account has been established in advance. If you want your shipment to be insured, you must specifically note this request on your shipping order. If you need to make special arrangements to return your material, contact your host beamline for assistance.

    For more information see shipping information under Safety & Training.

    Related documents:

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  2. Complete an End of Experiment Form
    The End-of-Experiment form provides an opportunity to comment on your visit. The on-site spokesperson for the experiment will receive a link to the form at the conclusion of the experiment.

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  3. Publish Your Results and Notify the APS
    Unless you have paid for proprietary beam time, your primary obligations after completing your experiment are to publish your results, with acknowledgment of the APS and the beamline, and to notify the APS of such publications.

    Check the User Obligations page for more information.

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  4. Communicate with the APS on Status Changes
    Please be sure to notify the APS of any changes to your affiliation, contact information, visa status, etc., by re-registering through the central registration system.

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