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  • ALS Scientific Director Dies
Aug 2006
BERKELEY, Calif, Aug. 23, 2006 -- Neville Smith, scientific director for the Advanced Light Source of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a leading authority in the field of photoemission spectroscopy, died unexpectedly of cancer at his home in Berkeley on Friday, the lab announced. He was 64.

NevilleSmith.jpgA native of England with a PhD in physics from Cambridge University, Smith came to the US in 1966. After doing post-doctoral research at Stanford University under photoemission spectroscopy pioneer William Spicer, Smith joined the staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J. He spent the next 25 years making a name for himself by using x-rays to study the electronic structure of solids and surfaces. In 1991 he was awarded the prestigious Davisson-Germer Prize of the American Physical Society for his contributions to the development of momentum-resolved photoemission spectroscopy.

Smith returned to the Bay Area in 1994, when he was named by then-Berkeley Lab director Charles Shank as the first scientific program head of the Advanced Light Source (ALS), a US Department of Energy national user facility recognized as one of the world's brightest sources of ultraviolet and soft x-ray beams for scientific research. Under his leadership, the ALS scientific program has thrived, Berkeley Lab said, with the number of ALS users growing from a few hundred to several thousand.

Smith's sudden death took his friends and colleagues by surprise, the lab said.

Berkeley Lab director and Nobel laureate Steven Chu, who also was a member of the scientific staff at AT&T Bell Lab, said, "The sudden, tragic loss of Neville Smith is a great blow to the ALS and to the entire synchrotron community. He was a distinguished scientist who, in his quiet and unassuming way, played a crucial role in building the quality of the scientific program of the ALS into the stellar program that it is today."

Smith had continued his own scientific research throughout his ALS tenure. At the time of his death, he held an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship that sponsored a research collaboration with colleagues at the BESSY II synchrotron light source in Berlin.

Smith is survived by his wife Elizabeth, two daughters, a daughter-in-law and a sister. There will be no funeral, but a memorial service to celebrate Smith’s life will be held in the fall, according to the lab. For more information, visit:

A device that uses superconducting magnets to bend or accelerate charged particles. It can be used to etch very fine high-density patterns on integrated circuits.
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