News & Events

The sounds of science: A quiet home for a powerful laser

December 3, 2019

Descending into the basement of Biodesign Institute Building C, a stillness settles around you. The sounds of skateboards clacking across sidewalks, students hurrying to class, even the chime of the nearby light rail and rush of traffic fade the deeper you go into the copper-plated, five-story building.  “You can feel it. You can just feel how quiet your feet are,” says Mark Holl. “Theoretically, this is one of the quietest, most vibration-free rooms in the entire...

World’s top researchers convene at ASU Biodesign to improve understanding of molecules in action, helping to advance areas including medicine and clean energy

November 26, 2019

Early in November, under azure Arizona skies, researchers from around the world gathered at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus for an unusual scientific conference. “Functional dynamics—visualizing molecules in action” was sponsored by the premier scientific journal Nature, in collaboration with the Biodesign Institute at ASU. The conference highlighted recent advances that have allowed scientists to probe critical aspects of nature occurring at mind-bogglingly tiny dimensions...

Beus CXFEL Lab dedication offers preview of future breakthroughs

October 1, 2019

Researchers at Arizona State University are busy making preparations for a “first light” experiment — a pivotal moment that will lead to ASU becoming the birthplace of the compact X-ray free electron laser (CXFEL), anticipated to be the first of its kind in the world. The instrument, which will be capable of peering deep into soft tissues and viewing the dance of molecules, was dedicated to the donors who helped make it possible in a campus ceremony Thursday morning. Leo...

First-of-its-kind instrument enables one-of-a-kind student experience

October 1, 2019

What’s better than spending a hot Arizona summer working in a cool basement? Spending a hot Arizona summer in a cool basement, building a scientific instrument expected to be the first of its kind in the world. Beneath the newly opened Biodesign Institute building C, five Arizona State University students put their education to work this summer, aiding in the first phase of the compact X-ray free electron laser (CXFEL), a miniaturized high-fidelity X-ray source. While most free electron...

Bright lights, big science: Revolutionary laser instrument receives $4.7 million boost from the National Science Foundation

September 17, 2019

Deep within the subterranean confines of Building C—the latest addition to the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University—a pathbreaking machine is quietly taking shape. Designed to unlock some of nature’s tiniest and most fleeting mysteries, the Compact X-ray Free Electron Laser (CXFEL) is the only instrument of its kind in the world. The device is the brainchild of physicist William Graves, a passionate authority on massive, intricate machines for leading-edge science. For the...

Nature Research and the Biodesign Institute to co-host fall conference on imaging molecular reactions

August 13, 2019

Some of the world’s most accomplished scientific minds will converge on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus on November 6, 7 and 8 to explore new methods that make it possible to observe molecules in action. Illustrating the adage, "seeing is believing," the conference, “Functional dynamics – visualizing molecules in action,” will showcase how cutting-edge methods are pushing the boundaries of knowledge. At the conference, scientists will discuss how emerging methods – that...

Smaller, faster, harder: Crystallography with XFELs

July 30, 2018

Richard Feynman knew a thing or two about biology. He is reported to have said, “Everything that living things do can be understood in terms of the jigglings and wigglings of atoms.” That is undoubtedly true, but until very recently almost everything we knew about biological processes at the molecular scale was derived from static images. Now, however, the new crystallography technique of X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) spectroscopy is enabling structural biologists to take snapshots of...

Compact XFEL Light Source

January 25, 2018

Presented by Bill Graves, Ph. D., Associate Professor, Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery Bill Graves and colleagues are pursuing development of a very compact XFEL based on inverse Compton scattering from a nanopatterned electron beam. CXFEL depends on a novel method to produce transform-limited X-ray output in all dimensions, that is with all photons in a single degenerate quantum state. This method avoids the noise amplification of SASE by imprinting a...

Discovery's Desert Home

September 18, 2017

  Editor's note: The following story was featured in the February 15 print edition of the journal Nature.  The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University was designed to foster multidisciplinary collaboration and solve the world’s great challenges. The results speak for themselves. William Graves came to the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University (ASU) determined to change the world. The physicist had spent the past 13 years at the Massachusetts Institute of...

Biodesign C will help advance scientific frontiers

October 12, 2016

Arizona State University’s newest research building will be packed with the most advanced construction and technological gear of today. The science that goes on inside will find answers that benefit society every day after. Researchers will tackle the early detection and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, speed up drug discovery and explore new avenues in renewable energy. The third building in ASU’s Biodesign Institute complex, Biodesign C on the Tempe campus, will serve as home...