Diamond welcomes first users to I14

Principal beamline scientist Dr Paul Quinn (right), with first users Dr Peter Ellis (centre) and Dr Manfred Schuster (left) in the I14 control cabin.
Principal beamline scientist Dr Paul Quinn (right), with first users Dr Peter Ellis (centre) and Dr Manfred Schuster (left) in the I14 control cabin.
Photo | Principal beamline scientist Dr Paul Quinn, with first users Dr Peter Ellis and Dr Manfred Schuster in the I14 control cabin.

Diamond has welcomed the first users to the Hard X-ray nanoprobe beamline (I14), the latest phase III beamline to be opened.

Stretching out 185 m from the main synchrotron building, this beamline is housed in a separate building alongside Diamond’s electron Bio-Imaging Centre (eBIC) and electron Physical Sciences Imaging Centre (ePSIC), making Diamond a world centre for excellence in nanoscale imaging.

The beamline provides fluorescence, spectroscopy and diffraction capabilities, and the X ray nanoprobe – a tiny beam of X-rays – is the smallest hard X-ray beam available at Diamond and will offer researchers higher resolution images at even greater depths into samples.

The first users are from global speciality chemicals company, Johnson Matthey, who are probing how catalysts function at the nanoscale. Catalysts are thought to be involved in 90% of all chemical processes. Understanding their function better at the atomic scale can unleash improved processes for industry.

“Initially we’ve used Diamond’s Microfocus Spectroscopy beamline (I18) to investigate these catalysts using a 5 µm spot size,” says Dr Peter Ellis, Senior Principal Scientist, Johnson Matthey. “This new beamline gives us insight into the structure and mode of operation of catalysts at a very high resolution.”

“For us, being able to investigate these catalysts over a range of length scales, from micrometres to angstroms is very interesting,” adds Dr Manfred Schuster, Senior Scientist, Johnson Matthey, who is based at Diamond. “The complementary nature of the I14 and I18 beamlines, coupled with the electron microscopes available, is highly beneficial to our research.”

Diamond staff are working with Johnson Matthey to develop an adaptor to help move samples directly between I14 and the two electron microscopes for physical sciences, one of which is owned by Johnson Matthey. “Easily moving between the two – which are only metres apart – really makes sense,” continues Dr Schuster.

The end of the construction phase and the welcoming of users is also exciting for Diamond staff, explains Dr Paul Quinn, Principal Beamline Scientist. “It’s been a huge process, involving lots of teamwork, to get the beamline up and running. It’s great to move from the design and construction to full operation – we’re all scientists so we’re keen to start doing research now.”

During this first run, I14 will produce X-ray beams of 200 nm. “Now begins the process of optimisation,” continues Dr Quinn. “In the next couple of months we’re targeting getting the beam down to 50 nm which will allow us to examine samples at even greater levels of detail.”

“We’re pleased to welcome Johnson Matthey,” he concludes, “I hope that this marks the start of a long series of collaborations with researchers from around the globe who are interested in multi-length scale science.”