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B21 is a dedicated X-ray scattering (SAXS) instrument for liquid samples. X-ray studies of samples in the liquid (solution) state are important because nearly all biologically relevant processes occur in a liquid environment.
Processes such as gene expression, muscle contraction, and even the processes required for vision are all mediated in a liquid environment. After welcoming first users in December 2013, B21 now operates at full capacity, with additional beamline equipment for automation undergoing commissioning. Over the past year, B21 has provided SAXS capabilities to users throughout the UK and Europe with samples including: the components of gene splicing and protein degradation, to the RNA polymerase machinery from Flu virus, as well as artificial, self-assembled systems not suitable to cryo-EM (due to size) or X-ray crystallography (due to flexibility).
Principal Beamline Scientist Rob Rambo with the BioSAXS machine on B21.
Under the guidance of Principal Beamline Scientist Dr Rob Rambo, formerly (of the SIBLYS beamline) at the Advanced Light Source, B21 is developing new algorithms and computational approaches for data reduction and analysis. In the past, background corrections have always been applied by simply subtracting the SAXS measurement of a sample in the absence of the particles of interest. This method was sufficient when the quality of the X-ray beam and detectors was poor, but with the modern capabilities at Diamond, the background corrections must be performed based on the physics of the SAXS experiment. Coupled with recent hardware improvements that reduced background scatter, the new analysis methods enable the extraction of the SAXS signal in high noise environments for ultra-low concentration measurements.
B21 is a next generation, high-throughput, automated beamline that can measure ~300 samples per day. Throughout the summer of 2015, B21 implemented a novel analysis pipeline for data integration and modelling. Making the most of his academic background in mathematics, computer science, and biochemistry, Dr Rambo actively develops SAXS software (ScÅtter, Bubbles, and Acqua) making B21 into a competitive centre of methods development.
For more information on B21, or to discuss potential applications, contact Dr Rob Rambo: firstname.lastname@example.org
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