Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Synchrotron radiation


A Si(111) winged crystal has been designed to minimize anticlastic bending and improve sagittal focusing efficiency. The crystal was thin with wide stiffening wings. The length-to-width ratio of the crystal was optimized by finite element analysis, and the optimal value was larger than the `golden value'. The analysis showed that the slope error owing to anticlastic bending is less than the Darwin width. The X-rays were focused two-dimensionally using the crystal and a tangentially bent mirror. The observed profiles of the focal spot agreed well with the results of a ray-tracing calculation in the energy range from 8 to 17.5 keV. X-ray diffraction measurements with a high signal-to-noise ratio using this focusing system were demonstrated for a small protein crystal.

Concepts: Electron, Diffraction, X-ray, Crystallography, Electromagnetic radiation, Finite element method, X-ray crystallography, Synchrotron radiation


Due to their short wavelength, X-rays can in principle be focused down to a few nanometres and below. At the same time, it is this short wavelength that puts stringent requirements on X-ray optics and their metrology. Both are limited by today’s technology. In this work, we present accurate at wavelength measurements of residual aberrations of a refractive X-ray lens using ptychography to manufacture a corrective phase plate. Together with the fitted phase plate the optics shows diffraction-limited performance, generating a nearly Gaussian beam profile with a Strehl ratio above 0.8. This scheme can be applied to any other focusing optics, thus solving the X-ray optical problem at synchrotron radiation sources and X-ray free-electron lasers.

Concepts: Diffraction, X-ray, Optics, Light, Refractive index, Electromagnetic radiation, X-ray crystallography, Synchrotron radiation


The ever-increasing brightness of synchrotron radiation sources demands improved X-ray optics to utilise their capability for imaging and probing biological cells, nanodevices, and functional matter on the nanometer scale with chemical sensitivity. Here we demonstrate focusing a hard X-ray beam to an 8 nm focus using a volume zone plate (also referred to as a wedged multilayer Laue lens). This lens was constructed using a new deposition technique that enabled the independent control of the angle and thickness of diffracting layers to microradian and nanometer precision, respectively. This ensured that the Bragg condition is satisfied at each point along the lens, leading to a high numerical aperture that is limited only by its extent. We developed a phase-shifting interferometric method based on ptychography to characterise the lens focus. The precision of the fabrication and characterisation demonstrated here provides the path to efficient X-ray optics for imaging at 1 nm resolution.

Concepts: DNA, Diffraction, X-ray, Optics, Light, X-ray crystallography, Synchrotron radiation, Aperture


Unravelling the interaction of biological macromolecules with ligands and substrates at high spatial and temporal resolution remains a major challenge in structural biology. The development of serial crystallography methods at X-ray free-electron lasers and subsequently at synchrotron light sources allows new approaches to tackle this challenge. Here, a new polyimide tape drive designed for mix-and-diffuse serial crystallography experiments is reported. The structure of lysozyme bound by the competitive inhibitor chitotriose was determined using this device in combination with microfluidic mixers. The electron densities obtained from mixing times of 2 and 50 s show clear binding of chitotriose to the enzyme at a high level of detail. The success of this approach shows the potential for high-throughput drug screening and even structural enzymology on short timescales at bright synchrotron light sources.

Concepts: Electron, Molecular biology, Enzyme, X-ray, Light, Particle physics, Enzyme inhibitor, Synchrotron radiation


Strong magnetic fields, synchrotron emission, and Compton scattering are omnipresent in compact celestial X-ray sources. Emissions in the X-ray energy band are consequently expected to be linearly polarized. X-ray polarimetry provides a unique diagnostic to study the location and fundamental mechanisms behind emission processes. The polarization of emissions from a bright celestial X-ray source, the Crab, is reported here for the first time in the hard X-ray band (~20-160 keV). The Crab is a complex system consisting of a central pulsar, a diffuse pulsar wind nebula, as well as structures in the inner nebula including a jet and torus. Measurements are made by a purpose-built and calibrated polarimeter, PoGO+. The polarization vector is found to be aligned with the spin axis of the pulsar for a polarization fraction, PF = (20.9 ± 5.0)%. This is higher than that of the optical diffuse nebula, implying a more compact emission site, though not as compact as, e.g., the synchrotron knot. Contrary to measurements at higher energies, no significant temporal evolution of phase-integrated polarisation parameters is observed. The polarization parameters for the pulsar itself are measured for the first time in the X-ray energy band and are consistent with observations at optical wavelengths.

Concepts: Electron, X-ray, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Supernova, Polarization, Synchrotron radiation


The physics and chemistry of liquid solutions play a central role in science, and our understanding of life on Earth. Unfortunately, key tools for interrogating aqueous systems, such as infrared and soft X-ray spectroscopy, cannot readily be applied because of strong absorption in water. Here we use gas-dynamic forces to generate free-flowing, sub-micron, liquid sheets which are two orders of magnitude thinner than anything previously reported. Optical, infrared, and X-ray spectroscopies are used to characterize the sheets, which are found to be tunable in thickness from over 1 μm  down to less than 20 nm, which corresponds to fewer than 100 water molecules thick. At this thickness, aqueous sheets can readily transmit photons across the spectrum, leading to potentially transformative applications in infrared, X-ray, electron spectroscopies and beyond. The ultrathin sheets are stable for days in vacuum, and we demonstrate their use at free-electron laser and synchrotron light sources.

Concepts: Electron, Photon, Physics, Light, Water, Electromagnetic radiation, Laser, Synchrotron radiation


Between X-ray tubes and large-scale synchrotron sources, a large gap in performance exists with respect to the monochromaticity and brilliance of the X-ray beam. However, due to their size and cost, large-scale synchrotrons are not available for more routine applications in small and medium-sized academic or industrial laboratories. This gap could be closed by laser-driven compact synchrotron light sources (CLS), which use an infrared (IR) laser cavity in combination with a small electron storage ring. Hard X-rays are produced through the process of inverse Compton scattering upon the intersection of the electron bunch with the focused laser beam. The produced X-ray beam is intrinsically monochromatic and highly collimated. This makes a CLS well-suited for applications of more advanced–and more challenging–X-ray imaging approaches, such as X-ray multimodal tomography. Here we present, to our knowledge, the first results of a first successful demonstration experiment in which a monochromatic X-ray beam from a CLS was used for multimodal, i.e., phase-, dark-field, and attenuation-contrast, X-ray tomography. We show results from a fluid phantom with different liquids and a biomedical application example in the form of a multimodal CT scan of a small animal (mouse, ex vivo). The results highlight particularly that quantitative multimodal CT has become feasible with laser-driven CLS, and that the results outperform more conventional approaches.

Concepts: Electron, X-ray, Light, Photoelectric effect, Laser, Medical imaging, Radiography, Synchrotron radiation


The deformation behavior of particles under pressure dominates the mechanical properties of solid dosage forms. In this study, the in situ 3D deformation of two polymorphs (I and II) of clopidogrel bisulfate (CLP) was determined to illustrate pressure distribution profiles within the tablet by the deformation of the crystalline particles for the first time. Synchrotron radiation X-ray computed microtomography (SR-μCT) was utilized to visualize and quantify the morphology of thousands crystalline particles of CLP I and CLP II before and after compression. As a result, the deformation was examined across scale dimensions from microns to the size of the final dosage form. Three dimensional parameters such as volume, sphericity, oblate and prolate of individual particle and distributions were computed and analyzed for quantitative comparison to CLP I and CLP II. The different degrees of deformation under the same compression conditions of CLP I and CLP II were observed and characterized quantitatively. The map of deformation degrees within the tablet illustrated the heterogeneous pressure distribution in various regions of the compacted tablet. In conclusion, the polymorph deformation behaviors demonstrated by SR-μCT quantitative structure analysis deepen understanding of tableting across dimensions from microns to millimeters for the macrostrcuture of tablet.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Pharmacology, X-ray, Particle physics, Dimension, Synchrotron radiation, Dosage forms


JUNGFRAU (adJUstiNg Gain detector FoR the Aramis User station) is a two-dimensional hybrid pixel detector for photon science applications at free-electron lasers and synchrotron light sources. The JUNGFRAU 0.4 prototype presented here is specifically geared towards low-noise performance and hence soft X-ray detection. The design, geometry and readout architecture of JUNGFRAU 0.4 correspond to those of other JUNGFRAU pixel detectors, which are charge-integrating detectors with 75 µm × 75 µm pixels. Main characteristics of JUNGFRAU 0.4 are its fixed gain and r.m.s. noise of as low as 27 e(-) electronic noise charge (<100 eV) with no active cooling. The 48 × 48 pixels JUNGFRAU 0.4 prototype can be combined with a charge-sharing suppression mask directly placed on the sensor, which keeps photons from hitting the charge-sharing regions of the pixels. The mask consists of a 150 µm tungsten sheet, in which 28 µm-diameter holes are laser-drilled. The mask is aligned with the pixels. The noise and gain characterization, and single-photon detection as low as 1.2 keV are shown. The performance of JUNGFRAU 0.4 without the mask and also in the charge-sharing suppression configuration (with the mask, with a `software mask' or a `cluster finding' algorithm) is tested, compared and evaluated, in particular with respect to the removal of the charge-sharing contribution in the spectra, the detection efficiency and the photon rate capability. Energy-dispersive and imaging experiments with fluorescence X-ray irradiation from an X-ray tube and a synchrotron light source are successfully demonstrated with an r.m.s. energy resolution of 20% (no mask) and 14% (with the mask) at 1.2 keV and of 5% at 13.3 keV. The performance evaluation of the JUNGFRAU 0.4 prototype suggests that this detection system could be the starting point for a future detector development effort for either applications in the soft X-ray energy regime or for an energy-dispersive detection system.

Concepts: Electron, X-ray, Light, Particle physics, Photoelectric effect, Electromagnetic radiation, X-ray crystallography, Synchrotron radiation


The MAX IV facility, currently under construction in Lund, Sweden, features two electron storage rings operated at 3 GeV and 1.5 GeV and optimized for the hard X-ray and soft X-ray/VUV spectral ranges, respectively. A 3 GeV linear accelerator serves as a full-energy injector into both rings as well as a driver for a short-pulse facility, in which undulators produce X-ray pulses as short as 100 fs. The 3 GeV ring employs a multibend achromat (MBA) lattice to achieve, in a relatively short circumference of 528 m, a bare lattice emittance of 0.33 nm rad, which reduces to 0.2 nm rad as insertion devices are added. The engineering implementation of the MBA lattice raises several technological problems. The large number of strong magnets per achromat calls for a compact design featuring small-gap combined-function magnets grouped into cells and sharing a common iron yoke. The small apertures lead to a low-conductance vacuum chamber design that relies on the chamber itself as a distributed copper absorber for the heat deposited by synchrotron radiation, while non-evaporable getter (NEG) coating provides for reduced photodesorption yields and distributed pumping. Finally, a low main frequency (100 MHz) is chosen for the RF system yielding long bunches, which are further elongated by passively operated third-harmonic Landau cavities, thus alleviating collective effects, both coherent (e.g. resistive wall instabilities) and incoherent (intrabeam scattering). In this paper, we focus on the MAX IV 3 GeV ring and present the lattice design as well as the engineering solutions to the challenges inherent to such a design. As the first realisation of a light source based on the MBA concept, the MAX IV 3 GeV ring offers an opportunity for validation of concepts that are likely to be essential ingredients of future diffraction-limited light sources.

Concepts: Electron, Ionizing radiation, X-ray, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Synchrotron radiation, Particle accelerator, Synchrotron