- The first users visit I08. (L-R): Tohru Araki, Gurdeep Bhella, Joerg Schwenke, Ian Robinson, Graeme Morrison, and PBS Burkhard Kaulich, in I08.
Diamond Light Source, the UK’s synchrotron, is one of the world’s most advanced scientific machines; that’s why it’s a pretty big job making sure Diamond stays ahead of the curve. Construction is still ongoing at the synchrotron, and every year we deliver new and innovative facilities to support scientists at the cutting-edge of research.
The newest beamline to make use of Diamond’s intense light is I08, Scanning X-ray microscopy, which is a multi-modal spectro-microscopy beamline, headed by Principal Beamline Scientist (PBS) Burkhard Kaulich. This beamline will offer scientists a combination of facilities that don’t exist together anywhere else in the world.
Diamond’s effectiveness depends on the quality of its beamlines because it is here that the X-ray light is harnessed and made suitable for scientists to use. Generally, no two beamlines are the same; rather each is tailored to support a different kind of experimental technique. Diamond’s phase III funding will allow the facility to expand to 33 beamlines; there are currently 24 in operation. This means that it’s really important to use up the remaining space with beamlines that will advance the cause of science, and make the best use of the synchrotron’s impressive light.
With competition as fierce as this to create pioneering new beamlines, it’s an exciting business being leader of a new facility. For Burkhard and his team, years of hard work and waiting have come to fruition as his new beamline, I08, has now been used for the first time.
As PBS, Burkhard has been involved from the beginning of the project. Since then, he and his team have been managing the construction of the beamline for over three years, watching it grow from an empty space on the experimental hall floor into a cutting-edge facility. Now that his beamline is taking users, the job of the I08 team will be to support visiting scientists and help them to get the most out of their experiments on the new beamline.
But what’s so special about I08? Well, it’s a combination of things. The range of materials that can be studied on beamlines at Diamond depends on the energy range of light they use. I08 offers a very broad photon energy range, meaning that a considerable variety of chemical elements can be studied on the beamline. Moreover, I08 offers a multiple detection scheme for high-resolution imaging, elemental mapping and analysing the chemical states, meaning that more data can be captured with each experiment.
The final feather in I08’s cap is the very high level of detail in the data it provides. For example, a human hair is about 80,000 nanometres thick, but I08 can help scientists see in high resolution all the way down to 20 nanometres.
Although each of these individual features exists on other beamlines and in other facilities internationally, having them all together in I08 makes it the only facility of its kind the world over. Burkhard is understandably proud of what his beamline offers: “Creating this beamline has been a real team effort, and it’s hugely exciting for all of us who have been involved to see it come into operation a full year ahead of schedule.” He continues: “So much work has gone in to creating this excellent facility, I am confident I08 will provide scientists with services that are world-leading. All this would not have been possible without the excellent teamwork at Diamond. I wish to use this exciting moment to express my deepest thanks to all who contributed to this project. ”