What is a beamline?
In a synchrotron, bunches of charged particles – electrons – circulate at nearly the speed of light for several hours inside a tube under vacuum. As magnets surrounding the tube bend their trajectories, the electrons emit ‘synchrotron light’, with wavelengths that range from infrared radiation to X-rays.
The emitted light is collected by different ‘beamlines’ connected to the storage ring: beamlines contain the optical elements that select and focus certain wavelengths of the synchrotron light on materials that scientists wish to study, as well as the set up for controlling the sample’s environment and for data collection. Each beamline is designed to produce light with characteristics that are suited for a specific type of research.
Synchrotron light beamlines provide one of the most powerful and advanced tools available in modern science for research, covering a wide range of disciplines ranging from materials science and engineering to medicine, cultural heritage, healthcare and the environment, as well as fundamental understanding in physics and chemistry.
They are also the physical area within the experimental hall where the scientists visiting SESAME, referred to as ‘users’, carry out their experiments. They are the work place where the users, often with diverse cultural, political and religious backgrounds, interact on scientific issues and through this build cross-border scientific collaboration, dialogue and understanding.
SESAME will be exploited in up to 20 or more experiments operating simultaneously on independent beamlines, which will focus the synchrotron light on samples of materials.
In the first phase, there will be eight beamlines. These beamlines have been selected on the basis of input from five scientific workshops and the early Users’ Meetings in which several hundred Middle East scientists participated, on 70 proposals received, and joint meetings of the Scientific Advisory Committee of SESAME and the now defunct Beamlines Advisory Committee of SESAME.
These beamlines are the following:
- XAFS/XRF (X-ray Absorption Fine Structure/X-ray Fluorescence) spectroscopy beamline – this beamline started hosting users on 17 July 2018
- IR (Infrared) spectromicroscopy beamline – this beamline started hosting users on 4 November 2018
- MS (Materials Science) beamline - this beamline started hosting users on 17 December 2020
- HESEB (HElmholtz-SEsame Beamline) – this Soft X-ray beamline is in an advanced stage of construction; it is expected to come into operation in 2022
- BEATS (BEAmline for Tomography at SESAME) – this beamline is in an advanced stage of construction; it is expected to come into operation in 2022
- TXPES (Turkish soft X-ray PhotoElectron Spectroscopy) beamline – this beamline is being constructed by a Turkish consortium led by TENMAK (Turkish Energy, Nuclear and Mineral Research Agency); it is the first beamline at SESAME to be designed and built by the national community of one of SESAME’s Members (Turkey)
- MX (Macromolecular Crystallography) - this beamline is presently being designed, its construction is still to start
- SAXS/WAXS (Small Angle and Wide Angle X-ray Scattering) beamline – plans for this beamline are yet to start
Back up for operation of the beamlines is provided by SESAME’s Scientific Computing and System Communication, Detectors and Electronics, and Data Collection and Analysis teams.