Making Chemical Maps

July 20, 2011

Staff scientist Sam Webb places a sample into an X-ray absorption experimental station (Beamline 2-3) at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL). This endstation was used to take data for a NASA-funded experiment looking at bacteria found in Mono Lake, CA that substitute arsenic for phosphorous within their DNA.

This setup is also used by visiting researchers investigating environmental contamination and other studies that require high-resolution chemical mapping—for example, finding ways to clean up toxins in soil by first precisely identifying them, or understanding disease by pinpointing harmful compounds in samples of brain tissue.

You can read about the creation of images like this and others at SLAC Multimedia Communication's new Tumblr photo blog, "Lens Lab."

Photo by Brad Plummer