William Graves

William Graves

Associate Professor, Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery


Associate Professor William Graves joined the ASU Physics Department and the Center for Applied Structural Discovery in the Biodesign Institute in 2015.  He came to ASU from MIT, where he spent over a decade developing novel x-ray light sources that ranged in size from tabletop scale to the largest mile-long devices using giant particle accelerators at national labs.  Prior to MIT he was a staff scientist at Brookhaven National Lab where he built and commissioned novel free-electron lasers in the infrared to UV spectrum.

At ASU his interests are focused on a new type of x-ray light source based on the collision of extremely short electron and laser pulses.  The relativistic electrons convert the laser photons into an intense x-ray beam similar to the beams produced by the very large accelerators at national labs, but the new source is much smaller, and will fit in any medical, scientific, or industrial lab.  These novel compact sources of powerful x-rays will have a tremendous impact on society, ranging from high resolution medical imaging with a much lower dose than conventional medical x-rays – to seeing the structure of molecules and proteins in photosynthesis, chemical catalysts, and pharmaceutical drug discovery – to providing stop-motion movies of chemical reactions as they take place – to seeing inside ancient art and cultural artifacts to explore the production methods used or perhaps to find undiscovered masterpieces beneath the surface.

Professor Graves earned a BS in physics from San Francisco State University in 1989 and a PhD in physics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1994.  He was a staff scientist at the NSLS synchrotron at Brookhaven National Lab from 1993 until 2002, working on seeded free-electron laser (FEL) experiments including the world’s first demonstration of a fully coherent seeded FEL amplifier.  He led accelerator design and construction for the DUV-FEL and participated in the design of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at Stanford.  In 2002 he moved to MIT where he worked on several major FEL projects in the US and Europe.  In the last few years he has developed the concept for a the Compact X-ray Light Source (CXLS) with David Moncton, Franz Kaertner, Emilio Nanni, and others.  At ASU he leads a collaboration with colleagues at MIT, SLAC, and DESY to construct and demonstrate the extraordinary properties of the CXLS.

Professor Graves holds 4 patents on x-ray light source technology and has published more than 70 papers on the science and technology of electron beam and x-ray production.  He enjoys many outdoor activities including sailboat racing, birding, hiking, biking, and gardening.