Nano*High: X-rays, Lasers, and Molecular Movies

By Roger W. Falcone

Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

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X-ray imaging is an excellent method to make visible what would normally be invisible - who hasn't had an X-ray at the doctor or dentist's office before? At the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, the Advanced Light Source is a gigantic X-ray imaging machine. Dr. Roger Falcone discusses X-ray tomography, is a method that uses these X-rays to produce three-dimensional images and movies of the smallest objects like cells, nano-structures, and microscopic events.


Roger Falcone Roger Falcone, UC Berkeley physics professor and veteran ALS user, succeeded Janos Kirz as ALS Division Director on September 1, 2006. Dr. Falcone received his undergraduate degree in physics from Princeton University in 1974. He earned an M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1976 and 1979 respectively. Following a three-year fellowship with the Applied Physics Department at Stanford, he joined the faculty of UC Berkeley’s Physics Department in 1983 becoming a full professor in 1991, and serving as department chair from 1995-2000. Currently, he is co-director of UC Berkeley’s participation in California Teach, a statewide program aimed at producing 1,000 new science and math teachers each year for the California K-12 classrooms. He is also the director of a new UC multicampus research program, the Institute for Materials Dynamics Under Extreme Conditions. This program supports activities in ultrafast and high energy density sciences at all UC campuses and laboratories. Falcone is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, and American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Dr. Falcone's current research interests focus on the use of ultrafast pulses of x-ray and laser light to study phenomena in condensed matter, molecular, and atomic physics. He was the co-author, along with Robert Schoenlein, of a proposal that brought in beamlines 6.0.1 and 6.0.2, dubbed the "Ultrafast X-Ray Facility," which are optimized for the generation of femtosecond x-ray pulses. A femtosecond represents one millionth of a billionth of a second, and is the timescale upon which chemical bonds are formed or broken, or materials transition from one phase to another. The Ultrafast X-Ray Facility is the first such facility at a synchrotron radiation source.

Falcone has also been an active member of the synchrotron light source community. He became a faculty staff scientist at the ALS in 2004. He also serves as a consultant for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and chairs the science advisory committee for the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), now being built at Stanford. When completed in 2009, the LCLS will be the world's first x-ray free electron laser.

Sponsored by

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory - Materials Sciences Division
Sally Nasman, Organizer
Nano*High gratefully acknowledges QB3, the California Institute for Quantitative Biosystems for providing the lecture hall on the University of California Berkeley campus.

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Roger W. Falcone (2010), "Nano*High: X-rays, Lasers, and Molecular Movies,"

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Alexander S McLeod1, Jeffrey B. Neaton1, Jeffrey C Grossman2

1. University of California, Berkeley 2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology


  1. nanophotonics
  2. K-12
  3. tutorial
  4. molecular
  5. cells
  6. lasers
  7. graphene
  8. X-Ray crystallography
  9. x-ray diffraction
  10. Imaging
  11. biomedical