The UK is taking a leading role in the development of a new structural biology facility (SFX) at the European X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL), in Hamburg, Germany, and a complementary facility at Diamond (The UK XFEL Hub) to help develop the required expertise.
The UK is a leading member of the serial femtosecond crystallography user consortium (SFX-UC), and through its role in the collaboration will deliver a dual instrument at the European XFEL that will enable visiting scientific users to image macromolecules from nanocrystals on the SFX instrument and single particles using scattering of coherent X-rays and detecting the coherent diffraction pattern on the SPB instrument.
Serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) was the term coined to describe the protocols used to collect the first diffraction data from nanocrystals at the LCLS in Stanford, USA. Scientists there were able to exploit the ultrashort pulses generated by LCLS to collect single shot diffraction images from nanocrystals. Diffraction from such small crystals was made possible due to the high brilliance of the beam (many orders of magnitude more than achievable at a synchrotron).
The SFX-UC brings together members of the scientific communities in Germany, United Kingdom, Sweden, Slovakia, Switzerland, United States and Australia. The project is being managed in Hamburg by Adrian Mancuso. The UK structural biology community is represented by Jim Naismith (lead PI, St. Andrews), Jan Lowe (LMB, Cambridge), Henry Chapman (CFEL, Hamburg), Martin Walsh (Diamond) and Dave Stuart (Oxford & Diamond).
At Diamond Dr Allen M. Orville has been appointed group leader of the XFEL Hub which will act as a focus for a number of activities:
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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