SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
Menlo Park, San Mateo County
(AD-24, SD-13)

Chi-Chang Kao, PhD, Director

Erika Bustamante, PhD, State Government Relations | (650) 725-3324

Melinda Lee, Communications | (650) 926-8547


The people, expertise, and facilities at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) offer potential to transform nearly every sector of our economy.

SLAC research spans the smallest and largest scales, from fundamental processes of chemistry to the exploration and understanding of the cosmos, dark matter, and dark energy. SLAC experts have a long record of developing novel instruments and technologies to provide unparalleled insight into the natural world — and they lead and participate in many large-scale national and international scientific collaborations.

Stanford University operates SLAC for the DOE’s Office of Science. Located in Menlo Park, SLAC is home to the world’s premier ultrafast X-ray science center. Extremely bright and fast X-ray pulses are used to create movies of atomic and molecular structures and interactions with unprecedented precision — driving advances in energy science, human health, industrial chemistry, novel materials, information technology, and more.


  • No. of Employees: 1,500
  • PhD Scientists and Engineers: 300
  • Annual Budget: $476 million (2016)
  • Annual Payroll: $182 million (2016)
  • Procurements to CA Businesses: $77 million (2016)
  • Contracts to Small Businesses: $25 million (2016)


The SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC) contributes to California’s global reputation as a hub of innovation. SLAC invents, develops, and operates sophisticated particle accelerator and X-ray technology and other scientific tools, including sensors, detectors, controllers, lasers, and systems for working with torrents of data and images.

Each year, SLAC hosts thousands of researchers who come to use its X-ray facilities for a wide range of basic and applied science — including California companies developing new pharmaceuticals, improving chip manufacturing, and developing sensor technology for self-driving cars. SLAC also develops novel laser architectures for their own research and for their work with local laser firms, further securing California as a hub of the optical laser industry. And through CalCharge, SLAC also supports California energy storage firms.

SLAC has deep ties to Stanford University — its employees are Stanford employees, and the SLAC director is a Stanford dean. SLAC and Stanford are a powerful combination, providing unique educational experiences and serving as a vital training ground for the nation’s future scientific workforce. SLAC provides internships and fellowships to students and early-career professionals, and educates the public through tours, lectures, and outreach programs.


SLAC has world-leading expertise in the design, engineering, and fabrication of advanced electronics, sensors, detectors, and instrumentation — in addition to large-scale data handling and computing systems, and associated facilities that help advance real-world applications. These include:

  1. Structural biology research aimed at understanding disease and developing and improving treatment.
  2. Next-generation batteries and improved manufacturing techniques for semiconductors, solar cells, and other products.
  3. Scientific computing and control system hardware and software.
  4. Improved medical imaging.
  5. Electric grid modernization and more efficient catalysts for energy and industry.
  6. Tracing and mitigating environmental contamination.
  7. Next-generation particle accelerator technology.

On the ground, SLAC has the ability and knowledge to manage major, complex scientific infrastructure projects that require the development of entirely new technologies. And at the edge of human exploration, SLAC’s experts can guide us in understanding the context and importance of dark matter, dark energy, particle physics — and the evolution of the cosmos itself.


SLAC has initiated construction on a major upgrade to the world’s brightest X-ray laser, the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). The LCLS-II will add a second X-ray laser beam that is 10,000 times brighter and fires 8,000 times faster, up to a million times per second. This will greatly increase the power and capacity of the X-ray laser for experiments that sharpen our view of how nature works on the atomic level and on ultrafast timescales. SLAC is also leading construction of a 3.2-gigapixel digital camera — the largest digital camera ever built for ground-based optical astronomy — for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) in Chile. The LSST will provide a definitive wide-field, ultradeep survey of galaxies for precision measurement of dark energy properties.


SLAC’s new Grid Integration, Systems and Mobility lab (GISMo) is developing ways to collect data from power systems and grid-connected devices — and to help managers use that data to better manage the electrical grid as we incorporate more sources of renewable energy (see p.11). GISMo works closely with California utilities and the California Energy Commission to develop and test new tools for managing a renewable grid and on planning for future electric vehicle charging loads. As an unbiased, highly technical partner, GISMo can test, benchmark, and evaluate emerging technologies that await the 21st Century power grid.


“SLAC is a unique hub for scientific talent and opportunity. The lab’s distinctive tools and capabilities will continue to enable groundbreaking discoveries, ensuring U.S. leadership in key scientific areas.”
Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto)

“SLAC and Stanford University have played a major part in the creation of Silicon Valley and continue to make enormous contributions in pushing the frontiers of science and technology.”
Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties)


Alongside academic powerhouses such as the University of California campuses, Stanford, and Caltech, Californians can take pride in our unrivaled collection of federal laboratories and research centers. CCST helps facilitate links across the capabilities and talents of these labs and centers through its Federal Laboratory Affiliates program — convening their expertise to deliver impartial science advice in response to the Governor, the Legislature, and other state entities. Learn more about the federal labs and science centers benefiting California at

Find the California Council on Science and Technology on Facebook at, on Twitter @CCSTorg, and on LinkedIn. Learn more about CCST at

Updated: 2018.02.13