Size matters – bigger and better instruments unveiled at the ESRF, including a world first!


The world’s first fully automated beamline for academic users and an instrument that weighs three tons but can be rotated a hundred degrees with a push from a single finger have been unveiled as part of the European Synchrotron’s Phase I Upgrade. Three new experimental stations which also include a new station for scanning samples as delicate as butterfly wings were inaugurated during the meeting of ESRF’s Science Advisory Committee (6 November 2014).

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ID30A, also known as MASSIF, is the only public experimental station for macromolecular crystallography in the world that is completely automated. A step further than remote access, it allows users to send in their samples, have them automatically analysed following instructions given in the ISPyB database, and then log on later to find out and review the results. Designed for the initial screening of crystals and the collection of data sets from samples of which the properties are well-known, this new facility potentially saves users hours, or even days, of time. ID30A has three end stations and replaces the highly successful ID14A and B beamlines which closed at the end of 2012.

Inauguration of beamline ID30A

Cutting the ribbon at the inauguration ceremony for beamline ID30A. Pictured from left to right: F. Sette (ESRF Director General), C. Müller-Dieckmann (Scientist in charge of ID30A), Prof. K. Hämäläinen (Chairman ESRF SAC), Prof. A.M. Carrondo, Dr M. Weiss, Dr A. Leslie.

ID32, was the second beamline to be inaugurated. It is the only soft X-ray beamline at the ESRF. One end station features an 11 metre spectrometer that provides unprecedented energy resolution. The instrument is able to rotate a full 100 degrees with the help of air pads which enable it to glide just above the marble slab below it. It will be used primarily for investigating the magnetic and electronic properties of materials, including high temperature superconductors.  The facility is expected to be available to users early next year.  A second UHV high magnetic field end station for studying the magnet properties of materials will take first users at the end of November. Such studies have potential importance in fields such as spintronics. A third “open” experiment area, allowing new user experiments to be developed, will take first users in December. In this case the users will carry out soft X-ray holography experiments.

Inauguration of beamline ID32

Inauguration ceremony at beamline ID32. Pictured from left to right: N. Brookes (Scientist in charge of ID32), Prof. D. McMorrow, Prof. K. Hämäläinen, F. Yakhou-Harris, Prof. M. Takata, F. Sette.

ID02, the third new beamline, is a direct replacement for its predecessor. It includes a 34 metre-long, two metre-diameter detector vacuum tube that houses multiple detectors for small, wide and ultra-small angle scattering techniques. In addition to the improvements in source properties and detector performance, one of the highlights of the ID02 upgrade is its new ultra-small angle scattering technique for radiation-sensitive samples, such as living biological cells and functional soft matter.

Inauguration of beamline ID02

Inauguration ceremony at beamline ID02. Pictured from left to right: F. Sette, Prof. K. Hämäläinen, N. Theyencheri (Scientist in charge of ID02), Dr A. Petukhov.

Director of Research Harald Reichert, said: “The upgraded beamlines provide users with a performance at the cutting edge of what is achievable. They open up new possibilities, save users time and offer unique capabilities. The inauguration of these experimental stations is testament to the hard work of the many people involved in developing them from design to completion”.

Details about Phase II of ESRF’s upgrade can be found in the July 2014 edition of ESRF News:


Top image: Inauguration of three new experimental stations, ID02, ID30A, ID32. Pictured here staff and members of the ESRF Science Advisory Committee cut the ribbon at ID30A.