Advanced Photon Source Industrial Liaison Office


Welcome to the Advanced Photon Source

Welcome to the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory. We are one of five synchrotron radiation light sources operated as national user facilities by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The APS is open to everyone who can utilize extremely bright x-ray photon beams for high-value research. This premier national research facility provides these x-ray beams to more than 5,000 scientists from all 50 United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and several foreign countries. These scientists come to the APS from industry, universities, medical schools, and other research institutions both federal and private. We continually seek new users who can put this extraordinary scientific resource to good use.

The purpose of the Industrial Liaison Office is to provide outreach from the APS to the industrial community. So we have developed this Web site as a portal to the APS, and a source of information that may be of particular interest to new or potential industrial users. Below are a few examples of the many kinds of industry-related activities done at the APS. You can find a list of industries that are using or have used the APS here (list/link to come).

If you have a short technical question about the capabilities of the APS, please contact me, Dennis Mills, APS Industrial Liaison, at, or go to the APS Industrial Liaison Office registration page and fill out our form. This will automatically send an e-mail to me and to the APS User Office. Someone from the User Office will contact you regarding the administrative aspects of accessing the APS. You can also visit our Prospective Users page for more information on accessing the APS.

Industry Access the APS

The APS is an open user facility that makes x-ray beam time available to the scientific community through a peer-reviewed proposal process, what we call the General User Program. Potential Users must fill out a General User proposal and submit it to the APS for access. (More info on that can be found at our Scientific Access page). Access to the APS through this process can take several months before the experiment is performed. To better accommodate the timescales that industrial users may require, we have set aside a small amount of time on some of our beamlines for what we call “rapid-access measurements.” This time is for “standard” measurements, such as powder diffraction, small-angle x-ray scattering, or spectroscopy, which require no complex sample environments and take only a few hours to perform. Work at the APS can be non-proprietary or proprietary. For proprietary work, the proposer must still complete the General User proposal form. In this case the proposer should fill in as much information as can be divulged in the public domain. If the proposal reviewers conclude that they do not have enough information to complete the review it will be sent to the APS Deputy Director for X-ray Science (Dennis Mills) for an evaluation and decision on beam time.

You can contact the User Office for more information


Researchers access our facility at no cost for x-ray beam time through an approved non-proprietary research program, with the expectation that the results will be published in the open literature. Proprietary research is performed on a full-cost recovery basis with the data being the intellectual property of the proprietary user. Information on proprietary research can be found here.

Some Techniques and Examples

An extensive list of techniques supported at the APS can be found here. Below are a few examples.

X-RAY SCATTERING TECHNIQUES are a family of non-destructive analytical techniques that reveal information about the long-range structure, bulk grain structure, internal strains, and physical properties of materials and thin films. These techniques are based on observing the scattered intensity of an x-ray beam hitting a sample as a function of incident and scattered angle, polarization, and wavelength or energy.

Research example: In situ Studies of Alloy Fatigue Mechanisms

Industrial User Office

Above: (a) Strain distribution along the loading direction in the vicinity of a notch under tensile load of 2100lb. (b) Stress distribution around the notch based on finite element modeling. A. Chuang (U. Tennessee Knoxville), Y. Gao (GE Global Research), J. Almer (Argonne).

Researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; General Electric Global Research; and Argonne utilized the Advanced Photon Source to study the fatigue failure mechanisms of Ni-based superalloys in order to develop better models of material-life prediction. These materials have been used extensively in hot sections of aircraft engines, such as turbine disc, and land-based gas turbines, where maintaining high strength and resistance to fatigue and creep at elevated temperature and under aggressive oxidizing environments are critical. Under extreme operating conditions, components can simultaneously experience damage from fatigue, creep, and oxidation-related mechanisms. Due to lack of detailed understanding of controlling failure mechanisms, these components are often over-conservatively designed, leading to increased cost and decreased performance. In this measurement, using the penetrating power of a 70-keV focused x-ray beam, diffraction patterns were collected from which the strain distribution could be mapped in a notched sample under a tensile load. The penetrating power of the high-energy x-rays allows “real samples” to be measured rather than thinned samples. In some cases, the strains can be measured I real time as the tensile load is changed.

X-RAY ABSORPTION SPECTROSCOPY (XAS) uses x-rays to probe the local (near-neighbor and next-nearest neighbors) environments of atoms and the chemical/valence state of the atom. XAS is element-specific in that by selecting x-rays with energies at or above the binding energy of a core electronic level of a particular atomic species, one can explore the local environment and chemical state of that particular atom. Because all but the lightest elements have core-level binding energies in the x-ray regime, nearly all elements can be studied with x-ray absorption fine structure. The emphasis has traditionally been on the heavier elements (of Z>15 or so). Unlike diffraction-based techniques for studying atomic structure of matter, XAS does not require ordered samples.

Research example: Surface Platinum Electro-oxidation in the Presence of O2

Industrial User Office

Above: In situ Pt L3 edge x-ray absorption near edge structure scans in N2- and O2-saturated 0.1 M HClO4. A. Kongkanand and J. M. Ziegelbauer (General Motors Global Research and Development).

Understanding the influences of oxides on platinum surfaces is vital to understanding the oxygen reduction reaction in fuels cells. In this experiment, XAS was carried out on dispersed Pt nanoparticles at the Advanced Photon Source by researchers from General Motors Global Research and Development. By tuning the incident x-ray energy to the platinum LIII absorption edge (approximately 11.5 keV), the researchers were able to make in-situ measurements of the oxidation state of the platinum atoms in Pt nanoparticles as a function of applied potential and to infer that oxo groups were being adsorbed on the surface as the potential was increased. Their studies suggest that O2 spraying results in adsorbed oxide and Pt surface layer place exchanges that are significantly lower than observed in an O2-free electrolyte.

X-RAY IMAGING TECHNIQUES: Most people are familiar with x-ray images from medical x-rays of broken bones, coins swallowed by kids, etc. These are so-called full-field images (i.e., the entire field of view was taken at once) as opposed to scanning techniques where data is collected one pixel at a time by scanning the sample across a narrowly focused x-ray beam. Scanning techniques typically have higher spatial resolution determined by the size of the focused beam (for x-rays that can be in the 10s of nanometers), but take longer to collect the data and so are not as well suited to high-speed imaging as are full-field techniques. Most images are a projection of a three-dimensional (3-D) object onto two dimensions. However, just as one can get a 3-D medical x-ray image using a computed axial tomography (CAT) scan, we can also take 3-D CAT scans of objects at the APS but with a spatial resolution on the order of 1 micron, as compared to medical CAT scans which have a spatial resolution on the order of 1 millimeter.

Research example: Probing the Dynamics of Liquid Sprays

Industrial User Office

Above: Ultrafast x-ray microimage of a hollow-cone gasoline spray revealing rich hydrodynamics. J. Wang, Jian Gao, Seoksu Moon (Argonne).

Advanced Photon Source scientists are working with manufacturers such as General Motors, Cummins Inc., Continental Corp., Denso Corp., and Bosch to investigate highly dynamic and complex multiphase liquid flows in order to facilitate R&D on gasoline and diesel fuel injectors and understand how injector dynamics affect the fuel atomization in a high-pressure, high-speed fuel injection event. Ultrafast x-ray images such as this picture of a hollow-cone gasoline fuel spray (with exposure times down to 100 picoseconds) provide insight into dynamic processes that cannot be obtained with visible light since the spray creates a fog-like mist of liquid that the visible light cannot penetrate. Conventional x-ray images rely on changes in density within the sample for contrast, as in typical medical x-ray images. But because of the unique properties of the x-rays at the APS, other contrast mechanisms can be used, such as phase contrast, to obtain images such as the one shown here.

Denny Mills