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Center for X-Ray Optics (CXRO)

The Center for X-Ray Optics at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory works to further science and technology using short wavelength optical systems and techniques. We create and operate advanced experimental systems to address national needs, support research in material, life, and environmental science, and extend the forefront of semiconductor manufacturing.


Center for X-ray Optics (CXRO) / Advanced Light Source (ALS)

SHARP (SHARP High-NA Actinic Reticle review Project) is a highly-flexible mask-imaging microscope built to support semiconductor research. Masks are glass plates carrying the computer chip patterns that will be transferred onto a silicon wafer using optics that shrink the image further down by a factor four.  SHARP is the world’s highest-resolution EUV (extreme ultraviolet) microscope enabling the characterization of mask defects in great detail. Staffed by experts in the field, SHARP is designed to investigate the most pressing issues in photomask development and commercialization, now and far into the future.

The CXRO engineering team designed, built, and was deeply involved in commissioning SHARP at the Advanced Light Source beamline 11.3.2 in 2013. Since then, the CXRO engineering team has provided continuous support on various aspects of the implementation of multiple upgrades:

  • Tilting zone plate holder (2014)
  • Interchangeable flexures and mask presence sensor for the mask holder (2014)
  • Automatic mask handling system (CXRO/Intel collaboration) and adjustable shutter system (2015–2016)
  • Laser interferometry encoders for the mask and zone plates stages (2016).


Center for X-ray Optics (CXRO) 

The Berkeley MET5, funded by EUREKA, is an EUV projection lithography tool located at the ALS. With a depth of focus of 30 nm, the 0.5 NA tool requires 1 nm resolution metrology in the three linear directions and 100 nrad in tip/tilt. Wavefront errors need to be smaller than 0.5 nm RMS. Including variable illumination capabilities, MET5  has a proven optical resolution of 9 nm and 0.8 nm stabilization over exposure times as long as 1 min. MET5 includes a two mirror objective with nanometer resolution precision stage systems, and a support/metrology system engineered for high stability. The mechatronics systems are designed to ensure stability against drifts and allow nearly arbitrarily slow experimental resist materials to be characterized.

The CXRO engineering team designed, built, and was deeply involved in commissioning the MET5 facility at the ALS in Q2 2019. Since then, the CXRO engineering team has provided continuous support on various aspects of the implementation of multiple upgrades including:

  • Improve vibration from 1.5 nm to 1 nm RMS (Q4 2019)
  • Commissioning of standalone source (Q4 2021)


Center for X-ray Optics (CXRO)

AIRES (Actinic Image REview System) is a plasma-source based ultrahigh resolution zoneplate microscopy tool that addresses the industry need for Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) mask imaging and defect printability studies. AIRES features a stand alone discharge produced plasma source providing EUV light to the tool.The CXRO engineering team developed the architecture and design of the AIRES tool. AIRES features a solution to mitigate the impact of ground motion onto the performance of the system. The optical column hosts a monochromator to significantly narrow the wavelength, allowing unique CXRO-developed zoneplates optics to be used. The system successfully produced its first image in January 2020. Since then, the CXRO engineering team has provided continuous support to the customer on various aspects, including delivering a new monochromator upgraded with motorized stages. After the installation in July 2022, the throughput was improved by 2x.


Center for X-ray Optics (CXRO)

Lithography masks act as the master copy from which wafers are printed, they must therefore be inspected so that any defect can be identified. It is also essential that no particles be deposited on the mask. A recent development in particulate contamination prevention and control has been the use of pellicles. Pellicles are thin membranes placed a few millimeters above the mask to keep particles from falling onto the imaging surface. In 2022, the CXRO engineering team installed the (Through Pellicle Inspection) mask inspection tool at the ALS 11.3.2 beamline. TPI features a working distance long enough to focus past the pellicle. The tool is currently being calibrated. Upon completion, the TPI microscope will be among the highest resolution EUV microscopes in the world, capable of imaging features on a mask with a half-pitch of 25 nm, with potential for even greater resolution with higher-NA zone plates. 

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Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF), Lead, South Dakota

The LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) experiment utilizes 7 tonnes of active liquid xenon to search for xenon nuclei that recoil in response to collisions caused by an impinging flux of dark matter particles known as WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles).  The experiment will be located nearly 1 mile underground in the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in Lead, South Dakota. The active liquid xenon is configured in a cylinder 1.5 meters in diameter and height, with an applied electric field to form a TPC (Time Projection Chamber).



High voltage pulsers are required to drive fast kicker magnets which will inject and extract beam to and from the ALS-U storage ring. This inductive voltage adder with MOSFET's produces fast rise and fall times on the voltage pulses that are required so that only the target bunches are deflected.

Advanced Light Source (ALS), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA

ALS-U is a planned upgrade of the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Berkeley Lab that will provide revolutionary x-ray capabilities. The ALS has been a global leader in soft x-ray science for more than two decades. Recent accelerator physics breakthroughs now enable the production of highly focused beams of soft x-ray light that are up to 1000 times brighter than that of the existing ALS. Applying this technology at the ALS will help us to better understand and develop the new materials and chemical systems needed to advance our energy, economic, and national security needs in the 21st century, securing the United States’ world scientific leadership for decades to come.


STAR Heavy Flavor Tracker

STAR Heavy Flavor Tracker

Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY

The Heavy Flavor Tracker (HFT) is a vertex detector which is part of the STAR (Solenoid Tracker at RHIC) detector located at the RHIC (Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider) accelerator. The HFT detector is designed to detect particles containing heavy quarks by measuring their extremely short decay vertexes. It consists of 4 silicon detection layers; the inner two layers are PXL, followed by IST and SSD as the outer layer. PXL uses novel pixilated sensors with high resolution and low mass that achieve breakthrough performance results. IST and SSD are used to point the tracks between PXL and the STAR TPC (Time Projection Chamber). Scientists and engineers at Berkeley Lab have played a major role in the design of both PXL and SSD.


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Pictured: Berkeley Lab Engineers, Thorsten Stezelberger and Luis Ardila-Perez

Photo Credit: Jim Thomas, SSD subsystem manager

ABPDU Advanced Technologies

ABPDU Bioreactor

Advanced Biofuels Process Demonstration Unit (ABPDU) – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Emeryville, CA

ABPDU enables early stage advanced biofuels, biomaterials, and biochemicals product and process technologies to successfully scale from the lab to commercial relevance. The facilities at ABPDU are constantly adapted and new process algorithms developed to support various client and project requirements. The Engineering Division manages a number of electronic and mechanical engineering endeavors including developing and maintaining data and control systems, designing automation, monitoring environmental compliance, and modifying custom equipment (i.e., fermenters and biological reactors) to perform specialized processes. The advanced customization engineered at the ABPDU enables the program to offer unique capabilities for advanced research in bioproduction.

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ALS qRIXS Endstation

ALS qRIXS Endstation

Advanced Light Source – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA

qRIXS is a novel endstation for momentum-resolved resonant inelastic x-ray spectroscopy studies the elementary excitations in three-dimensional correlated materials. The spectrometer covers a large energy range in the soft x-ray regime and is designed to be compact and flexible. It can accommodate up to five modular spectrometers to cover a large horizontal angular range simultaneously. Berkeley Lab Engineering Division designed and fabricated the endstation.

ALS MAESTRO Beamline 7.0.2

ALS MAESTRO Beamline 7.0.2

Advanced Light Source – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA

MAESTRO at 7.0.2 is a beamline at the Advanced Light Source that advances angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy for the study of electronic structure on the mesoscale regime, covering a photon energy range of 20-1000 eV with a resolving power of 20,000-30,000. The beamline is coupled to unique sample preparation and characterization facilities connecting all of the endstations. Berkeley Lab Engineering designed, built and installed the beamline and insertion device.


Linac Coherent Light Source II (LCLS-II) – SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Stanford University, Menlo Park, CA

LCLS-II is the upgrade of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) national user facility. LCLS is a powerful x-ray laser that enables exploration of atomic motion and changes in chemical bonds. The upgrade will add two new X-ray laser beams and expand the capacity for more instruments and research experiments. Berkeley Lab is leading the design and production of the injectors and undulators for the facility upgrade.



Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA
Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BeLLA) is a world-record-setting laser system and state-of-the-art scientific facility for the advancement of laser plasma acceleration research. In 2014, the project won a DOE Secretary’s Achievement Award “for outstanding ingenuity and exceptional project performance.” The Engineering Division was responsible for the project management and all of the opto-mechanical systems, electrical and controls systems, and the site and systems integration of the BeLLA project.

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ALS Cosmics Scattering Endstation

Cosmics Scattering Endstation

Advanced Light Source – Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, CA

The COSMIC Scattering Endstation is an endstation focusing on understanding the nanoscale organization of complex materials using coherent soft x-ray scattering techniques. It is installed at one of two branches on the Coherent Scattering and Diffraction Microscopy (COSMIC) beamline. Berkeley Lab designed and fabricated the endstation.