The new Scientific Advisory Committee inaugurates two new beamlines


The new high-pressure beamline ID27 and serial crystallography beamline ID29 have been inaugurated in the framework of the biannual Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) meeting.

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It was a time for firsts: the first SAC meeting onsite after 2 years of remote mode due to the COVID19 pandemic, the first time for many new members to participate in the meeting, and the first time that they visited the new beamlines  –with ribbon-cutting ceremony included.

After two busy days discussing the future of the scientific aspects of the ESRF, including the new access modes that have been endorsed, the SAC members attended to the inauguration of the new ID27 and ID29. Whilst ID27 has been running for six months already, ID29 is in its commissioning phase, and it will welcome users later this year.

Serial Crystallography on ID29

ID29, the new EBS flagship beamline for Serial Crystallography, delivers an unmatched photon flux density at the sample position, which makepossible to collect data from biological macromolecule crystals of a few micrometers in a few microseconds.

This time-resolution beamline will allow scientists to watch a protein at work, as in a molecular movie, with applications in health, but also environmental engineering. This will provide new insights on how enzymes work, such as those that degrade plastic or degrade dangerous metabolites in our bodies. It will also unveil how membrane transporter proteins regulate the traffic across cellular membranes or track time-dependent functional changes upon ligand binding, which will open new paths in drug discovery research.

According to ESRF’s Director of Research for biological sciences, Annalisa Pastore, “the new beamline will be a game changer in Structural Biology: it will provide a dynamic view of biological molecules at work and allow us to follow their action”.

Unprecedented high pressure on ID27

The new ID27 provides significantly higher photon flux density and higher coherence, especially for photon energies above 20 keV, i.e. the energy range most relevant for diffraction and imaging at extreme conditions. This will enable a new class of nano-X-ray diffraction, X-ray fluorescence and X-ray imaging studies under extreme Pressure-Temperature conditions.

The direct impact on studies at extreme conditions is that higher pressure and temperature states, which can be generated only in smaller volumes, will be finely characterized. Transient processes under extreme conditions will be observed and submicron sample heterogeneities will also become accessible at the microsecond time scale, to allow a deeper understanding of processes such as transport (diffusion, viscosity) or crystallisation/melting, under extreme conditions.

ID27 will have much higher photon flux and smaller beam sizes than its predecessor, as well as superior performance detectors. It will enable ultra-high pressure experiments (P> 4 Matm), time-resolved experiments (millisecond resolution), 2D micro-fluorescence mapping and X-ray imaging.

The beamline has been running for six months, but it is still being completed with new instrumentation, such as a laser heating system or Kirkpatrick-Baez mirrors. “The first data from experiments on this beamline show the unique potential to push the limits of high pressure research. This is just the beginning”, says ESRF’s Director of Research for physical sciences, Gema Martínez Criado.

Top image: Inauguration of the new ID27. Credits: C. Argoud