Advanced Light Source (ALS)

The Advanced Light Source (ALS) exterior dome at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

The ALS is one of the world's brightest sources of high-quality, reliable vacuum-ultraviolet light and soft X-rays, enabling a wide variety of scientific disciplines.
Berkeley, California Location
1993 Start of Operations
2,129 (FY 2017) Number of Users


The Advanced Light Source (ALS), at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, began operations in 1993 as one of the world's brightest sources of high-quality, reliable vacuum-ultraviolet (VUV) light and long-wavelength (soft) X-rays for probing the electronic and magnetic structure of atoms, molecules, and solids, such as those for high temperature superconductors. The ALS is still a growing facility with an expanding portfolio of beamlines that has already been applied to make important discoveries in a wide variety of scientific disciplines.


ALS light is particularly well-suited for soft x-ray imaging of biological structures, environmental samples, polymers, magnetic nanostructures, and other inhomogeneous materials. ALS based research programs have resulted in important results on the electronic structure of new materials of interest to scientific communities, such as systems with highly correlated electrons or graphene (a one-atom thick layer of the mineral graphite). The ALS has developed new instruments for x-ray science and has extended the capabilities of the facility towards shorter wavelength (harder) X-rays that are in high demand by structural biologists. Other uses of the ALS include holography, interferometry, and the study of molecules adsorbed on solid surfaces. Shorter wavelength x-rays are also used at structural biology experimental stations for x-ray crystallography and x-ray spectroscopy of proteins and other important biological macromolecules. User demand for beam time is strong resulting in high scientific productivity with strong impact.