First users on VERSOX beamline

Diamond’s VERSOX beamline (B07) celebrates an important milestone as it welcomes its first users.

VERSOX is a station which allows researchers to study the surfaces of materials at near-ambient pressure, providing important real-world data for a wide range of materials and applications. Surface science is often carried out in vacuum, which gives good data resolution but requires complex preparation and is incompatible with many samples. The near-ambient pressure capability of VERSOX allows a wide range of materials to be studied, including liquid surfaces, heterogeneous catalysts under working conditions, and pharmaceutical compounds. 


“The VERSOX end station will have applications in areas as wide ranging as space science, heritage, pharmaceuticals and materials science” says Laurent Chapon, Physical Sciences Director at Diamond. “The interdisciplinary nature of the science carried out here is really exciting, and the technique gives researchers real insight into the structures and chemical nature of their samples at the surfaces, where much of the ‘real science’ happens. We are very proud of what the team have achieved so far, and we are really looking forward to full operations commencing.”

Principal Beamline Scientist, Georg Held, says “This is a great day for the beamline. It is testament to the hard work of the entire team both on the beamline and at Diamond as a whole that we have reached this important milestone. The near-ambient pressure community around the world is growing rapidly, and it is important for the UK that we have this capability to study real world systems here at Diamond.”

The research group from Reading University are examining how methyl acetoacetate (MAA) binds to the surface of a nickel (Ni) catalyst while reacting with hydrogen gas. The hydrogenation of MAA is a topical reaction in catalysis and an important process in the production of fine chemicals, such as pharmaceuticals. Principal Investigator, Roger Bennett, of the group says “Ambient-pressure soft X-ray spectroscopy is a key technique allowing scientists to study the surface composition of catalysts under realistic working conditions. VERSOX is the only facility in the UK where this technique is possible, thus with B07 now operational, Diamond is making this capability available to all researchers in the UK and abroad.”

VERSOX is one of Diamond’s phase three beamlines, which marks the last phase of new stations for the facility. The station adds to Diamond’s expertise in surface science, complementing our capabilities in materials research across a range of disciplines.