The Diamond Spectroscopy village is formed of six beamlines, four of which are open for user operation and two are currently under commissioning and construction. Thanks to the complementarity of the different beamlines, the Spectroscopy Village supports a science programme that makes use of a very broad range of X-ray energies to perform experiments across diverse time and length scales. This diversity of capability allows the village beamlines to contribute to many different scientific disciplines, from chemistry and catalysis to environmental science, materials science, physics, biology, medicine, and cultural heritage. The development of the beamlines is continuing, and many improvements in data acquisition and analysis have been delivered, along with the development of new and more versatile sample environments.
The Microfocus Spectroscopy beamline (I18) uses X-ray beams as small as 2x2 μm2 to study samples that are heterogeneous on that scale. Users are able to study elements from phosphorus to neptunium using X-ray Fluorescence (XRF), X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS), and diffraction techniques. The major beamline development has been improving the speed of XRF data collection, with the dead time reduced from 30% to 5% in many cases. The many published papers from I18 last year include studies on using filled carbon nanotubes for biological imaging, understanding the colour of snail shells, conserving artefacts from the Mary Rose and investigating how asbestos fibres interact with human cells.
Diamond’s bending magnet Core EXAFS beamline (B18) is characterised by a wide energy range, focused beam and a continuous scanning monochromator allowing for efficient collection of XAS data on all elements heavier than phosphorus. Thanks to a flexible experimental space, sample environments and the availability of high quality detectors, research on B18 covers areas as diverse as chemistry, physics, and the environmental and life sciences. While catalysis, energy materials, and environmental studies are the research topics most strongly represented in the B18 user community, last year has seen several successful experiments in the art and archaeology, cancer research, and solid state physics areas.
Figure 1: Participants at the 2017 Spectroscopy Village Science Away day held at the Cosener’s
House (Abingdon) in March.
The Versatile X-ray Spectroscopy beamline (I20) is a double beamline operating two independent branches: scanning (I20-scanning) and dispersive (I20-EDE).
The I20-scanning branch provides capabilities for XAS in transmission and fluorescence modes, as well as X-ray Emission Spectroscopy (XES). This is delivered using two end stations. The first end station is optimised to carry out experiments on very low concentration samples while the second enables high resolution studies of the electronic structure of samples. The branch has been operating since the beginning of 2016, and numerous experiments in diverse areas such as catalysis, environmental science and hard condensed matter have been performed. The development of a new monochromator that will extend the energy range of the beamline to 34 keV is on-going.
The I20-EDE branch is designed to perform XAS experiments in dispersive mode, and is optimised for in situ and operando studies in the range from 6 keV to 26 keV. The branchline is in its optimisation phase, receiving friendly users in many scientific areas such as homogenous and heterogeneous catalysis, electrochemistry and extreme conditions. The development of a turbo-XAS system to allow fluorescence measurements on this branchline is well advanced.
Figure 3: The I21 beamline team, Mirian Garcia-Fernandez, Thomas Rice, Andrew Walters and Principal Beamline scientist, Kejin Zhou, beside the new RIXS spectrometer.
The Scanning X-ray Microscopy (SXM) beamline (I08) is for morphological, elemental and chemical speciation on a broad range of organic-inorganic interactions in a 250-4000 eV photon energy range, and sample investigations under ambient or cryogenic conditions. This is unique for an SXM facility. I08 has a range of applications including biological and biomedical sciences, Earth and environmental science, geochemistry, and materials science. This year I08 faced first major upgrade in frame of Scanning and Mapping projects, which offer optimised and improved data collection and analysis. I08 commenced the design and construction of a soft X-ray spectro- and tomo-ptychography branchline, which is expected to be available to the user community in 2019.
The external building for the Hard X-ray Nanoprobe beamline (I14) was completed in February 2016. The fit out of the beamline area within the building included the installation of a water panel room temperature system, unique to Diamond beamlines, which is necessary in attaining the thermal stability required for long term nanopositioning experiments. I14 achieved first light in the external hutches in September 2016 and due to continuous work on the beam feedback system, a pointing stability of <50 nrad was achieved during commissioning. This is essential for repeatable alignment, nanoscale imaging and spectroscopy across the I14 energy range. In January 2017, I14 issued a commissioning call marking the beginning of the commissioning and Spectroscopy Village operational phase of the beamline. I14 is currently concentrating on delivering a sub-200 nm beam for X-ray Fluorescence Imaging and Spectroscopy. Improvements in focal spot size as well as new techniques and facilities such as ptychography, diffraction mapping and cryogenic sample handling will be rolled out over the first year of operations. In March 2017, I14 welcomed its first users signalling an exciting year for all involved.
Figure 4: Hannah Roberts, PhD student with Diamond and Bristol University, giving a presentation at the 2017 Spectroscopy Science Away Day.
Over the last year, the Inelastic X-ray Scattering beamline (I21) experienced the most complex part of the five year construction phase. After the external building handover from the external contractor, the beamline construction progressed well, including the installation of many critical elements in the beamline, such as the exit slit, the gas cell system, the large arcs of marble floor, the discrete-port sample vessel, the M4 and M5 optics, and the SGM grating system. In parallel to the beamline installation, the construction of the external building was further developed. In October 2016, the large air handling units were installed. The construction of the cabins and services, and the plant room has now been completed. The large 15 m long Resonant Inelastic X-ray Scattering (RIXS) spectrometer mechanical structure was designed in-house and was successfully installed in January 2017.
In addition to these technical achievements, the I21 beamline team have accomplished several scientific milestones; the first neon gas K-edge X-ray absorption spectrum was collected in August 2016, which demonstrated a resolution of about 80 meV and in September 2016 I21 succeeded to shine the first light into the sample vessel. With the final completion of the beamline construction in the near future, I21 will welcome first users in summer 2017.
Figure 5: Spectroscopy Village Beamline Technicians. From left to right: Steve Keylock, Trevor Orpin, Darren Neville, Phil Robbins, Janusz Ras and David Mahoney.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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