MASSIF-1 is a world leading unique facility for the high throughput, fully automatic characterisation and data collection of macromolecular crystals. The new service is not designed to replace user visits to the synchrotron, but rather to do the hard work of screening crystals or collecting routine data sets through the night, freeing researchers to spend more time on challenging data collection problems and study the underlying biology. MASSIF-1 is an autonomous intelligent system taking numerous descisions during the characterisation process to get the best possible data from user samples.

!!!!! Please note that the beamline is compatible with ESRF/EMBL SPINE pucks ONLY !!!!!

** New Pseudo-helical data collection strategies for both native and SAD data collection are now available, see   **

NEW! Applications now invited for completely automated high throughput fragment screening funded by iNEXT, see for details. The service combines CrystalDirect robotic soaking and mounting of crystals developed at the EMBL, Grenoble with the fully automatic characterisation and data collection platform at the ESRF to form the worlds first fully automated fragment screening pipeline.

The software routines used on MASSIF-1, the beamline itself and the RoboDiff sample changer have been described in the following publications:

The MASSIF-1 publications have been cited a total of 94 times. Please cite the appropriate references for exepriments performed on MASSIF-1.

Svensson, O., Gilski, M., Nurizzo, D. & Bowler, M. W. (2018). Multi-position data collection and dynamic beam sizing: recent improvements to the automatic data-collection algorithms on MASSIF-1, Acta Cryst. D74, 433-440,

  • Describes the improvements made to the automatic data collection algorithms including dynamic adaptation of beam diameter to crystal volume and multi-position and helical data collection (MXPressP)

Svensson, O., Monaco, S., Popov, A. N., Nurizzo, D. & Bowler, M. W. (2015). The fully automatic characterization and data collection from crystals of biological macromolecules, Acta Cryst. D71, 1757-1767,

  • Describes the original developments in sample location, characterisation and data collection algorithms (automesh, X-ray centring, MXPressE and SAD data collection protocols etc.), should be cited for all experiments conducted on MASSIF-1

Bowler M.W., Nurizzo, D., Barrett, R., Beteva, A., Bodin, M., Caserotto, H., Delageniere, S., Dobias, F., Flot, D., Giraud, T., Guichard, N., Guijarro, M., Lentini, M., Leonard, G., McSweeney, S., Oskarsson, M., Schmidt, W., Snigirev, A., von Stetten, D., Surr, J., Svensson, O., Theveneau, P. and Mueller-Dieckmann, C. (2015) MASSIF-1: A beamline dedicated to the fully automatic characterisation and data collection from crystals of biological macromolecules J. Sync. Rad. 22 1540-1547

  • Describes the technical layout of the beamline, should be cited for all experiments conducted on MASSIF-1

Bowler, M.W., Svensson, O. & Nurizzo, D. (2016): Fully automatic macromolecular crystallography: the impact of MASSIF-1 on the optimum acquisition and quality of data, Cryst. Rev., 22, 233–249

  • Describes the first full year of operation of MASSIF-1, analysing the results from the large scale automation of MX data collection showing the advantages of fully autonomous data collection

Nurizzo, D., Bowler M.W., Caserotto, H., Dobias, F., Giraud, T., Surr, J., Guichard, N., Papp, G., Guijarro, M., Mueller-Dieckmann, C., Flot, D., McSweeney, S. Cipriani, F, Theveneau, P. and Leonard, G. (2016) RoboDiff: combining a sample changer and goniometer for highly automated macromolecular crystallography experiments Acta Cryst D 72, 966-975,

  • Describes the core robotic automation of the beamline



MASSIF-1 has a highly intense beam (3 x 1012 ph/sec) with a size of 100 µm x 65 µm (H x V FWHM) at a fixed energy of 12.835 keV (0.966 Å). Apertures can be used to define a beam between 100 and 10 µm in diameter. The beamline is optimised for fully automatic data collection and sample evaluation with a new robotic system (RoboDiff) and high capacity dewar (240 spine pins). New automated services use mesh scans to fully evaluate crystals and centre the optimal volume to the beam, this position is then characterised and data collected, or not, depending on user request and parameters defined in the diffraction plan in ISPyB. No restrictions are placed on samples, loop size or crystal quality. As this is a fully automatic high throughput service samples must be registerd in the ISPyB data base with sample names and puck barcodes.


Short video from the GIANT campus communications team describing how the EMBL and ESRF collaboration on MASSIF-1 helped Sanofi-Aventis:


An overview of the setup of the optical and experimental hutches can be found here.



The beam is 100 µm x 65 µm (H x V FWHM) but apertures can tailor the beam down to 10 µm.