On Thursday 18th September, scientists from the University of Bath's Department of Chemistry became the first group of researchers to use Diamond Light Source's new Small Molecule Single Crystal Diffraction beamline (I19). Led by Professor Paul Raithby, who is also the chair of the group who helped to design and create I19, the team used Diamond's latest beamline to study the structures of metal organic frameworks (MOFs).
Their single-crystal MOF samples were placed under Diamond's extremely intense X-rays on I19 to retrieve diffraction patterns revealing the crystal structure of the frameworks. Once the crystal structure had been established the aim of the experiment was to shine a bright light onto the samples to photo excite them, thus altering their structure, and use Diamond's X-rays again to see exactly how the structure had changed.
|Mark Warren is pictured inside I19's experimental hutch, looking at the sample in position.|
MOFs are polymer-like materials which can act as sensors with potential future applications in the electronics industry. If the MOFs can successfully be converted into conducting frameworks upon photoexcitation they could be used to carry current through small electronic devices such as mobile phone screens, for example. The MOF crystals that Prof. Raithby and his team are looking at are so small (5 x 5 x 5 microns - 1/20 the width of a human hair!) that an instrument such as Diamond's Small Molecule Single Crystal Diffraction beamline is essential to progress in this field.
Accurate structure determination is vital for understanding the properties of a material and the way in which it functions. The use of synchrotron X-rays for single-crystal diffraction is necessary when structures are too complex, or crystals are of insufficient quality or size to allow structure determination from the relatively low intensity of a laboratory X-ray diffractometer. Single-crystal diffraction provides the definitive structural characterisation to allow true structure-property relationships to be described. On I19, very high speed data collection and high flux will allow processes to be followed with an unprecedented degree of detail.
Prof. Raithby was delighted to achieve the first MOF diffraction pattern on I19, he said: "It was fantastic to see this beamline up and running and to be the first to try it out. It has been an enormous pleasure to see it progress from an idea on paper six years ago to a successful working reality. I19 holds huge potential for the future developments of materials crystallography in the UK."
|Paul is pictured inside I19's experimental hutch, in front of the diffractometer and detector.|
Dr David Allan, Principal Beamline Scientist on Diamond's Small Molecule Single Crystal Diffraction beamline, said: "Now that we have I19 in operation, we will spend the next six to nine months optimising it to achieve its full potential. Scientists can use I19 for a wide range of static and time-resolved experiments, under a variety of environmental conditions, on complex materials that are of importance to many areas of the physical, life and environmental sciences."
I19 is part of the second phase of construction at Diamond which is due to be complete in 2012. The further 10 Phase II beamlines that are scheduled to be added over the next three years will bring the total of operational beamlines at Diamond to 22, covering a wide range of science; from biology and medicine, to the physical and chemical sciences, through to the environmental and engineering.
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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