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May 2012 Print

Howard Padmore, Division Deputy for Experimental Systems


padmoreAs the ALS Deputy for Experimental Systems, I oversee the Experimental Systems Group (ESG) with the help of the group deputies, Alastair MacDowell and Tony Warwick. The mission of the ESG is to assist researchers working on ESG-supported beamlines, to develop the technical infrastructure needed to carry out this work, and to help develop new applications of synchrotron radiation primarily through the development of new techniques. A particular focus of the group’s work is in x-ray microscopy and in the application of many techniques to the challenges in energy sciences.

In addition to maintaining and improving the performance of our present suite of beamlines, we have active programs that will add new capabilities in the next few years.

  • COSMIC:  This will be an EPU powered soft x-ray beamline, in the soon to be chicaned sector 7, that will support two endstations: one for coherent scattering and one for coherent imaging. The optical design is complete and we are about to start working with the engineering group on realization of this new state-of-the-art system for coherent soft x-ray experiments.
  • Nanosurveyor:  This is a new ptychographic microscope that will be on COSMIC and should give a resolution well beyond that achievable with conventional x-ray microscopy.  In this system, a diffraction pattern is recorded from two overlapping spots on the sample; the overlap provides a robust way to phase the diffraction pattern and recover a real-space image. A prototype of the microscope is now undergoing testing on BL 9.0.1, and using the BL 11 and STXMs, testing of this modality is underway using present microscopes. Initial results indicate that sub-10 nm resolution will be achieved.
  • Optical metrology:  Beamlines depend on good optics, and for this we must qualify and adjust all optics we receive. This is done in our optical metrology lab. A new lab with temperature-controlled and clean conditions is under construction in the USB and should give us a major improvement in capability.
  • Improvement to existing beamlines: We have a medium-term plan to upgrade some of our older beamlines using state of the art optics (LUXOR project). This is a similar program to that successfully carried out on the protein crystallography beamlines a couple of years ago. We are awaiting funding so that a start can be made in this area.
  • Beamline upgrades and moves: We plan to move and upgrade beamline 11.3.1, the Chemical Crystallography Beamline.  This is ALS’s most productive beamline in terms of published output, but it is on a non-optimum source. Moving it to a superbend magnet will mean a factor of 1000 increase in flux density at the sample for small crystals. In collaboration with the Chemical Sciences Division, we  are also examining the opportunities for moving the existing BL 7.0 beamline to sector 9, to replace the coherent optics beamline. This will give new soft x-ray capabilities to the chemical dynamics group.

This is a small glimpse into the work of the Experimental Systems Group. The work of the group is only possible through the hard work and dedication of the group members who play a central role in keeping the ALS at the leading edge of synchrotron science.