Survey of SESAME users’ community

Science at SESAME - Phase 1

Synchrotron light sources enable the study of matter on scales ranging from biological cells to atoms using light with photon energies ranging from milli-electron Volts (far-infra-red) to 100 kilo- electron Volts (very hard X-rays). They have had an immense impact on many areas of basic and applied research in diverse fields including archaeology, biology, chemistry, environmental science, geology, physics, and medicine. SESAME will be able to serve 25 or more experiments operating simultaneously on 25 beamlines. Phase 1 will have seven beamlines, of which numbers 1 to 3 will be built in the construction phase and will be available on inauguration day, with 4 to 7 following closely thereafter:

  1. Protein crystallography beamline (photon energy range: 4-14 keV) - for use in structural molecular biology. The primary contributions of this research are to elucidate the mechanisms of proteins at molecular level and provide guidelines for developing new drugs. Protein Crystallography studies at Synchrotrons have contributed to the award of four Nobel prizes, the first in 1997 and the latest in 2009. Pharmaceutical companies and biotech companies use these beamlines heavily in order to discover new lead compounds with the aim of reducing the time and cost of developing new drugs.
  2. X-ray absorption fine structure and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy beamline (3 – 30 keV) for basic materials science as well as applications in materials and environmental science on the micrometre scale. These techniques are extensively used in designing new materials and improving catalysts, such as those used in petrochemical industries. X-ray fluorescence has become a powerful tool in a variety of applications; examples include identification of the chemical composition of fossils and of valuable paintings in a non-invasive manner.
  3. Infrared beamline (0.01-1 eV) - for molecular biology, environmental studies, materials, and archaeological sciences. Infrared spectromicrocopy is proving very powerful in studying cells and tissues without the need for chemical fixing. Since infrared light is non-ionizing, there is a promising future for time-resolved imaging of living cells.
  4. Powder diffraction beamline (3-25 keV) – to be used mainly for materials science. This technique is particularly powerful for studying disordered/amorphous material on the atomic scale, the evolution of nano-scale structures and materials in extreme conditions of pressure and temperature. On many synchrotrons, this is used as a core technique for developing and characterising new smart materials.
  5. Small and Wide angle X-ray scattering beamline (8-12 keV) - for structural molecular biology and materials science. These techniques can be used for studying molecular properties of synthetic and biological polymers and to determine parameters (e.g. strength) that improve the quality of a polymer for a particular purpose. They are unique for studying large macromolecular assemblies and provide information on protein-protein complexes.
  6. Extreme ultraviolet beamline (10-200 eV) - for atomic and molecular physics. Photoabsorption and photoionization techniques used in this spectral range provide fundamental information on the behaviour of atmospheric gases relevant to astrophysical data and are relevant to behaviour of these gases under ionizing radiation. Photoemission studies in this spectral range can also be used to characterize the electrical and mechanical properties of materials, surfaces and interfaces.
  7. Soft X-ray ultraviolet beamline (50-2000 eV) for chemical, environmental, energy, materials and physical sciences. This multi-purpose beamline will be used for a variety of applications, including the development of new materials in experiments that allow in-situ manipulation, one example being studies of the behaviour of catalysts and how they can be tailored.

Prepared by Professor Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith and Professor Samar Hasnain, September 2010

List of Phase - I beamlines

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