Argonne National Laboratory

Aimin Xiao

By John SpizzirriJuly 18, 2013

Aimin Xiao is a physicist and deputy storage ring manager for the Advanced Photon Source in the Accelerator Systems division.

What led you to a career at Argonne?

In many ways, research direction was a driver. Argonne is geared more toward applied physics, so it has broader applications.

I started my research on damping rings at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, where there was cooperation with Argonne, since Argonne had more expertise on the subject. So that helped with the decision to continue my research here, along with Argonne’s broad research activities and reputation for taking a collaborative approach.

What do you like most about your work at Argonne?

The thing I like most about my job is the challenge. The desire to provide Advanced Photon Source (APS) users with the most sophisticated, tailored light source creates challenges to every aspect of my daily work. To design a next-generation light source, develop a simulation code, commission the existing APS and keep it at the forefront of research are goals that I share with my group.

The group members I work with are people who have broad scientific interests and are full of new ideas. We discuss and debate regularly about how we can bring our ideas to fruition. That makes me feel like my work is exciting and useful.

What is the focus of your research?

My main focus is on future-generation light source design and the study of beam-related issues, like insertion devices. An insertion device is used to generate synchrotron radiation light for the scientist or user. When trying to meet various user requirements, some insertion devices can be very complicated.

For example, I’m currently working on an insertion device that was developed for the Intermediate Energy X-Ray experiment. The Magnetic Devices group designed and built the magnet. What I do is simulate the design to see how it can fit into our storage ring. Once the device is inserted, I analyze the measurements to determine whether the quality is good. Working with colleagues from several groups, we solved tough issues that helped put the device in user operation in less than half a year.

What’s next for the APS upgrade and what is your role?

Even though we are working on the APS upgrade now, we already have our eye on future improvements. Currently, we use what is called a third-generation light source. Michael Borland, associate division director, Accelerator Systems division, proposed an idea to develop a new ring with the beam emittance reduced by nearly 20 times the current value, which is close to the diffraction limits. This kind of ring would be considered a 3.5-generation light source.

What I am working now is the injection section design. Due to the small dynamic aperture and very tight free space, the design is very challenging. We are studying various possible solutions to the problem and one proposal seems promising.

How does your group’s work advance Argonne as a world leader in science?

The applications for storage rings like APS’s synchrotron radiation light source are very broad. You can use it to gain a better understanding of areas as varied as material science, chemistry and the life sciences. So the work we do helps generate the brightest x-ray beams possible to help advance the quality of study.

What got you interested in physics?

It was my curiosity about the world. When I was a junior high school student, I had a teacher whose method of presenting how the world was formed and evolved was like magic. I knew I wanted to pursue it and understand how the magic works.

How does Argonne reach out to prospective science students?

We host a series of lectures and seminars that bring area students to Argonne and to APS. We let them know what we’re doing, why it’s important and how the result of what we’re doing can revolutionize their lives.

Do you participate in any clubs or activities at Argonne?

I had joined a yoga class in the past. Now I’m a member of the Garden Club. We use our free time to plant vegetables and flowers. I grow tomatoes and peppers among other things. I feel it is a good thing to do. When you work in the garden, you refresh your mind and it’s also good exercise to improve your health. Then you’ll have more energy to do your work. Also, you get more contact with people from different areas of the laboratory, opening yourself to the possibility of meeting new friends and building scientific collaborations. 

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