MX Responsive Beamtime Guide

Diamond MX Open to Users

Beamlines are open via Responsive Scheduling, Pre-scheduled Visits (either on-site or remote) & Unattended Data Collection for:

With an approved proposal the current available options are:

  Run 3 2024 (June - August) Run 4 2024 (September - October)
Remote Access - scheduled after samples arrive on site Send samples from 10th June and arrive no later than 2nd August Send samples from 27th August and arrive no later than 4th October
Automated unattended data collection Send samples from 10th June and arrive no later than 2nd August Send samples from 27th August and arrive no later than 4th October

On-site access, pre-scheduled beamtime and supported remote access

Email [email protected] and the relevant principal beamline scientist, after reading the below guidance

Proprietary access (Remote/ Automated/ Mail-In)

Discuss with Industrial Liaison Office
Mail-in for I23 long wavelength

Discuss with Armin Wagner

In situ data collection on VMXi

See VMXi webpage and discuss with beamline team.

User commissioning on VMXm

Discuss with Gwyndaf Evans


Responsive Beamtime Access

During Diamond's 5 Run periods per year, the synchrotron provides User Beam 6 days per week with most Tuesdays as Machine Days for maintenance of the synchrotron ring. Therefore User Beam is available between 9:00 on Wednesdays through to 9:00 on Tuesdays.

On-site visits are also possible again, and we are keen to welcome Users back - particularly to enhance the training of early-career crystallographers.

Scheduling can be done:

  • Responsively - a suitable time is scheduled after the dewar has arrived on site, taking into account the parameters requested for that shipment
  • Pre-Scheduled - Users can pre-book sessions with [email protected] at least 2 weeks in advance (particularly for on-site visits), to support training, aid logistics, liaise with Diamond staff or any other reason
  • Unattended Data Collection (UDC) - does not require scheduling as samples join a queue and get their data collection as soon as possible.

All users requiring training or information should get in touch with the local contact associated with their visit. Please write to [email protected] if no local contact has been assigned, for instance, if the visit has not been scheduled yet. 

Industrial users (proprietary access) should liaise with [email protected].

Which access route should you choose?

On site access and supported remote access pre-booked sessions

On site visits can be booked in advance (normally at least 2 weeks) for Users to collect their data onsite at one of our beamlines. One reason to do this may be for the training of early-career crystallographers to get more immersed in the workings of the synchrotron and it's beamlines, and in addition to the data collection visit itself, we may be able to offer the opportunity to see additional facilities or meet members of the Diamond team. 

Diamond-staff supported visits can also be booked in advance - whether for on-site support together in the beamline control room, or online support for a remote session, for instance delivered via Zoom. This is needed where support is needed beyond what might be expected of a Local Contact. A supported remote session may have involvement of a staff member on your session, perhaps for a challenging phasing problem, training new staff or students, or for testing new features of the beamlines. 

To request either on site access, or a supported remote session please get in touch with the relevant Principal Beamline Scientist and [email protected] more than 2 weeks before the session is required and we will confirm whether the request is feasible. If you're request could be dealt with by multiple beamlines, then email [email protected] in the first instance and we can forward to the most appropriate Principle Beamline Scientist.

On site access will also be subject to the Diamond site wide restrictions, see our user information and working protocols.

Automated unattended data collection (academic/industrial)

If you have a crystal system that meets straightforward requirements then the automated unattended data collection service is for you.

  • Single crystal >15 µm in size
  • Ability to set a target resolution, either through prior knowledge or experimental requirements

You simply provide us with some limited information when creating your shipment and samples in ISPyB and we handle the rest, with data collected as soon as reasonably possible. This is the most flexible way for us to schedule beamtime currently and places no constraints on your time to be available for collection. More instructions can be found on the Unattended Data Collection pages.

Remote interactive data collection (academic/industrial)

Standard (responsive) remote access to all beamlines. If you have a challenging problem (for example, new crystals to test where diffraction quality is unknown, difficult phasing problems or require microfocus beam) then an interactive remote access visit is likely appropriate. For these visits we will schedule your visit once we have received your samples at Diamond. 

Long wavelength beamline I23

Please liaise with Armin Wagner for data collections supported by the I23 team.

Mail-in service (industrial only)

For industrial mail-in service please discuss your needs with the Industrial Liaison Office

How to ship samples

Full information about how to ship your samples can be found on the Shipping Samples page.

All EU and NI users, arranging their shipment with DHL in ISPyB should be aware that they cannot create an airwaybill in ISPyB and should contact [email protected] (Academic MX), [email protected] (Industrial Users) or [email protected] (Academic EBIC) respectively, and follow the appropriate guidance below.

Please ensure:

  • All samples must have been added to your proposal in UAS and been approved by Diamond SHE prior to shipping - do this well in advance of wanting to send samples to allow time for review and approval by Diamond.
  • All samples must be shipped to site by recognised couriers to be delivered to ours Goods-In department. Alternatively email [email protected] if you wish to deliver them to our Goods-In department. 
  • It is now mandatory to link approved proteins in UAS when creating samples in ISPyB. Please see brief notes about Protein Acronym in "Section 3 Add container" on the UDC pages here. If you wish to use different Protein Acronyms than those specified in UAS for your folder/file names in data collections you can clone an approved protein. Go to, click on the approved protein and then use the clone button to create a new instance with the Acronym of your choice. This will then be available in the Protein Acronym drop down in container creation. .
  • A Dewar must only contain samples for UDC or responsive remote session or mail-in currently. We cannot accept Dewars with samples for mixed experiment types. A shipment should also only contain one experiment type. 
  • Sample mounts and shipments for I23 beamtime should be coordinated with Armin Wagner.

Responsive Scheduling: What do we need to know from you? 

For all routes, we need all container and sample information completed before shipment to Diamond. 

For automated unattended data collection, we simply need the information required for data collection parameters for all samples to be provided in UAS and ISPyB as outlined in the web pages here.  

For responsive remote access or industrial mail-in visits we need you to complete the short questionnaire in the Shipment form when shipping your samples to help us configure the beamtime schedule.

On ticking the Responsive Remote / Mail-in session option (see image below) the questionnaire appears in the form requesting the following information:

  • INDUSTRIAL USERS ONLY Is this for remote data collection or mail-in service work? 
  • Requested beamline session length [hours] 
  • Energy or wavelength requirements [eV/A] 
  • Do you need microfocus beam (provide further information in additional comments)? [y/n] 
  • Scheduling restrictions for the two weeks after delivery when the people collecting data are unavailable including weekends?
  • Would you like to be considered for beamtime at short notice (i.e. within 1-2 days)?
  • Should this dewar be grouped with other dewars within the BAG for a single session?
  • Is there a hard drive or tools enclosed?
  • Additional comments - include any details relevant for scheduling, i.e. Requires darkness in the hutch

responsive shipment form

This information will be reviewed at the point of scheduling and adjusted as appropriate to maximise the use of the available beamtime. Please ensure that the Lab Contact sending the dewar has provided a phone number to enable the scheduling team to discuss beamtime options with you if needed.

Please note until relevant information is provided and containers and samples are created, shipped and have arrived at Diamond we will not be able to schedule your beamtime.

How will scheduling work?

We now schedule by the hour for remote access and mail-in sessions based on the information provided by yourselves at the shipment stage. Samples for responsive remote access will be scheduled once they are on-site, and have information completed on samples in ISPyB. Where feasible we may be able to make slots available the same week and we will contact you to set these up. Equally if demand is high at any time we may need to contact you to allocate the earliest available slot outside of the period you have provided with your shipment for your availability. Scheduled users will receive notification of time automatically from UAS. Please contact us immediately if there are any issues with the allocated time. We will have limited opportunities to adjust the schedule and your time may need to be deferred to a later slot if you cannot use the offered time.

Samples for automated unattended data collection will be collected at the earliest possible available slot.

Scheduling for on site, or supported remote session will be done in advance, by contacting [email protected] and the relevant Principle Beamline Scientist. This may be in advance of the samples sent to Diamond, in this case you should send samples to against that registered visit. 

What do after your remote visit is scheduled

As with any scheduled beamtime, in UAS you will need to add team members who wish to collect data and complete the ERA including samples for this session. You will have only shipped samples to us that have already been approved at the proposal level (see above) and consequently if samples you add to the visit are green your visit should automatically be approved and we can load your pucks. New unapproved samples should not be added at this stage.

Who to contact?

For enquiries (except for I23, VMXi and industry) prior to any beamtime please contact [email protected] who will coordinate a response to your questions. 

Once a visit has been scheduled and a local contact has been assigned please liaise with them first (see UAS for your local contact). 

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