2017 was a very successful year for the group with the approval of two flagship beamlines for the EBS project. The first, for coherent beam experiments, will be built on ID08 and the second, for surface science, will be built on ID10. The latter will have two hutches, one for soft and one for hard surfaces. In addition, ID02, ID09 and ID17 will be upgraded with new optics and detectors.

Beamline ID02 had a renewal of scientific staffing due to the early departure of two post docs and a second scientist. Ultra-small-angle XPCS (USA-XPCS) received a tremendous boost with the Eiger detector, which can acquire up to 20 000 frames per second. It has also been a productive year in terms of publications and industrial activity, indicating that the beamline has matured to full potential after the upgrade.

Several important innovations were implemented on ID03. The fast attenuators can change the attenuation, to avoid detector saturation, in less than 20 ms. Continuous scans became more efficient and the risk of damaging the detector has been eliminated. Trajectory scans in reciprocal space were also implemented with a significant reduction in acquisition time. This is particularly important for studies of slow dynamics at interfaces. Two new setups for in situ / operando electrochemical experiments were established in collaboration with University of Liverpool (UK) and University of Florence (Italy). The setups enable us to perform electrochemical experiments on ionic liquids with no oxygen/water contamination and to provide a low background environment with weak scatterers. The satellite laboratories are becoming more important. In particular, the electrochemistry laboratory supported a record number of experiments in 2017.

ID09 is dedicated to time-resolved studies of molecules on time scales from 100 picoseconds to 1 millisecond. The structure is filmed with snapshots in a pump-and-probe fashion: short laser pulses initiate a structural change and short X-ray pulses probe the change as a function of laser/X-ray delay. For chemical and biochemical reactions that cannot be triggered by a laser, a stopped-flow setup with 10-millisecond resolution was installed in July 2017. The beamline also offers time-resolved X-ray emission spectroscopy (XES) with a Johann and a Van Hamos spectrometer. The latter focuses a 100 eV spectrum into a line on a Maxipix CCD. The spectrum is therefore measured in one exposure, which is ideal for pump-and-probe experiments.

In preparation for the EBS, a micro focusing mirror will be installed in the former high-pressure hutch, EH1, in March 2018. The mirror will focus the pink beam in EH2 to Ø15 μm with 5 x 109 ph/pulse at 15 keV. Many experiments, notably serial Laue crystallography, will greatly benefit from the smaller spot. With the inauguration of the XFEL in Schenefeld (Germany) and the SwissFEL in Villigen (Switzerland), users will have access to 100-femtosecond pulses for ultra-fast experiments. With the EBS upgrade, the ESRF will continue to be an important player in picosecond science thanks to the wide energy range, superb beam stability and the greater availability for users.

2017 was a milestone for ID10, with the approval of a dedicated coherent beamline on the EBS, the EBSL1 project. EBSL1 will exploit the impressive increase in coherence for X-ray photon correlation spectroscopy (XPCS) and coherent X-ray diffraction imaging (CXDI). The 100-fold gain in coherent flux will extend the temporal resolution in XPCS 10 000 times, down to 100 nanoseconds. CXDI will push the spatial resolution to 5-10 µm in tomographic imaging, bridging the gap between electron and optical microscopy. ID10 will be refurbished with two hutches: the first will host a multipurpose diffractometer with a beam deflector for liquid/soft surfaces, and the second will host a setup for chemical reactions and surface dynamics. Studies of catalytic ignition and electrochemical dissolution will be possible with millisecond resolution. In addition, improved optics will open up new possibilities for studies of sub-micron objects and dynamics of buried interfaces.

The surface part of ID10, ID10SI, installed a Mythen2-1K stripe detector for GID measurements from liquid surfaces. The detector accelerated the speed of data collection 10 times! The coherent part of ID10, ID10CS, was improved with new optics, sample environments, detectors and software. In particular, the energy range for coherent experiments was extended up to 21 keV. To preserve the coherence, wavefront-preserving absorbers, made of Ge single crystals, were installed. To perform experiments in the 80-500 K range, a new cryostream, the Oxford 800 Plus, is now available. The beamline also has access to an Eiger 500 K that can run at 22 kHz, i.e. 60 times faster than the Maxipix. That makes it possible to track microsecond dynamics in XPCS.

ID17 is dedicated to in vitro and in vivo biomedical research. In 2017, the portfolio of detectors for micro-computed tomography was enlarged to include a double-head microscope made by Optique Peter. The detectors are designed to handle the high intensity from a pink beam. Monochromatic CT imaging in the energy range 25-150 keV can now be performed in the satellite building and pink beam CT imaging in the first experimental hutch. A FReLoN and PCO.Edge (type: 5.5) camera are used, combined with optical lenses, to define pixel sizes from 0.7 to 47 µm with fields-of-view up to 180 mm. Microbeam radiation therapy (MRT), a technique exploiting the high intensities of wiggler radiation, is used to study the tumouricidal properties of intense micro beams. MRT is frequently combined with nanoparticles or other chemotherapic adjuvants. The ultimate goal of MRT is to use it in real clinical applications. An important milestone towards this goal was reached in 2017 with conformal image-guided MRT on large targets.

2017 was also a very busy year for the PSCM, the Partnership for Soft Condensed Matter, which is a joint ESRF/ILL support laboratory. The number of requests for user support is steadily increasing and the PSCM is now supporting more than one hundred experiments per year from users and on-site scientists. The most requested techniques are atomic force microscopy, optical microscopy and UV-vis spectroscopy. Additional services include humidity control and 3D printing of sample environments. In particular, the PSCM is progressively specialising in 3D-printed microfluidic devices.

The results of the PSCM implementation phase 2012-2017 were reviewed in March 2017. This meeting included talks from the five current partners of the PSCM: University of Göttingen (Germany), Technical University of Berlin (Germany), Imperial College London (UK), University of Paderborn (Germany) and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences of Vienna (Austria). The Review Committee recommended the continuation of PSCM for the next five years, 2018-2023.

M. Wulff