Becoming a User

The user programs supported by DOE-BER at the synchrotron and neutron beam line facilities are designed to provide the scientific community access to world-class experimental tools and scientific and technical expertise in support of their research programs, including areas of BER mission relevance.  The facilities are open to users from academia, national laboratories, the private sector, and research institutes.  Access is most commonly obtained through peer-reviewed proposals with no charge for users who intend to publish their results.  Access is available on a cost-recovery basis for research that is not intended for publication.  Prospective users are strongly encouraged to consult with the respective facility staff for information about science opportunities and technical capabilities.  Each of the facilities has a well-documented process for beam time allocation and this is described briefly below with more details available on the www-pages of the individual facilities.

Modes of Access

While the access mechanism details may vary between the facilities (as described in details in the links below under Additional Information), the main commonalities are:

  • General Users are individual researchers or groups who need access to the facility to carry out their research.  General Users apply for access by submission of a proposal that is evaluated by an external Proposal Review Panel (PRP).  The scope of a General User proposal can vary from a single experiment proposal to a program proposal (valid for multiple visits extended over multiple years).
  • Partner Users are users who also enhance the facility capabilities and/or facility operation, via external financial and/or intellectual capital contributions.  The capabilities must be made available to the General Users to benefit the overall User Program and the facility.  In recognition of their support, Partner Users are provided negotiated access to one or more beam lines over a defined time period.
  • Rapid Access:  Time-critical research opportunities that demonstrate a need for immediate access can be provided access for shorter-term access allocations to some of the beam lines (varies with the specific facility).
  • Proprietary Research:  While the majority of user research is in the public domain, and as such must be disseminated by publication in the open literature, access is also provided for proprietary research.  Users conducting proprietary research may access the facility as either General Users or as Partners.  Full cost recovery is obtained for proprietary research, and efforts are made to secure appropriate intellectual property control for proprietary users to permit them to exploit their experimental results.
  • User Agreements:  Facility-specific User Agreements for Non-Proprietary and Proprietary Research are required to be executed between the researcher’s institution and the respective facility before work can be performed.  They are available at the respective facility User Administration web sites.

Additional Information, including Proposal Deadlines, can be found at the following facility websites: