Beamline ID23-2, the first dedicated and highly automated high-throughput monochromatic macromolecular crystallography microfocus beamline, is described.
The first phase of the ESRF beamline ID23 to be constructed was ID23-1, a tunable MAD-capable beamline which opened to users in early 2004. The second phase of the beamline to be constructed is ID23-2, a monochromatic microfocus beamline dedicated to macromolecular crystallography experiments. Beamline ID23-2 makes use of well characterized optical elements: a single-bounce silicon (111) monochromator and two mirrors in Kirkpatrick–Baez geometry to focus the X-ray beam. A major design goal of the ID23-2 beamline is to provide a reliable, easy-to-use and routine microfocus beam. ID23-2 started operation in November 2005, as the first beamline dedicated to microfocus macromolecular crystallography. The beamline has taken the standard automated ESRF macromolecular crystallography environment (both hardware and software), allowing users of ID23-2 to be rapidly familiar with the microfocus environment. This paper describes the beamline design, the special considerations taken into account given the microfocus beam, and summarizes the results of the first years of the beamline operation.
macromolecular crystallography; automation; microfocus
Hardware and software solutions for MX data-collection strategies using the EMBL/ESRF miniaturized multi-axis goniometer head are presented.
Most macromolecular crystallography (MX) diffraction experiments at synchrotrons use a single-axis goniometer. This markedly contrasts with small-molecule crystallography, in which the majority of the diffraction data are collected using multi-axis goniometers. A novel miniaturized κ-goniometer head, the MK3, has been developed to allow macromolecular crystals to be aligned. It is available on the majority of the structural biology beamlines at the ESRF, as well as elsewhere. In addition, the Strategy for the Alignment of Crystals (STAC) software package has been developed to facilitate the use of the MK3 and other similar devices. Use of the MK3 and STAC is streamlined by their incorporation into online analysis tools such as EDNA. The current use of STAC and MK3 on the MX beamlines at the ESRF is discussed. It is shown that the alignment of macromolecular crystals can result in improved diffraction data quality compared with data obtained from randomly aligned crystals.
kappa goniometer; crystal alignment; data-collection strategies
A system for the automatic reduction of single- and multi-position macromolecular crystallography data is presented.
The development of automated high-intensity macromolecular crystallography (MX) beamlines at synchrotron facilities has resulted in a remarkable increase in sample throughput. Developments in X-ray detector technology now mean that complete X-ray diffraction datasets can be collected in less than one minute. Such high-speed collection, and the volumes of data that it produces, often make it difficult for even the most experienced users to cope with the deluge. However, the careful reduction of data during experimental sessions is often necessary for the success of a particular project or as an aid in decision making for subsequent experiments. Automated data reduction pipelines provide a fast and reliable alternative to user-initiated processing at the beamline. In order to provide such a pipeline for the MX user community of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), a system for the rapid automatic processing of MX diffraction data from single and multiple positions on a single or multiple crystals has been developed. Standard integration and data analysis programs have been incorporated into the ESRF data collection, storage and computing environment, with the final results stored and displayed in an intuitive manner in the ISPyB (information system for protein crystallography beamlines) database, from which they are also available for download. In some cases, experimental phase information can be automatically determined from the processed data. Here, the system is described in detail.
automation; data processing; macromolecular crystallography; computer programs
Optical trapping has successfully been applied to select and mount microcrystals for subsequent X-ray diffraction experiments.
X-ray crystallography is the method of choice to deduce atomic resolution structural information from macromolecules. In recent years, significant investments in structural genomics initiatives have been undertaken to automate all steps in X-ray crystallography from protein expression to structure solution. Robotic systems are widely used to prepare crystallization screens and change samples on synchrotron beamlines for macromolecular crystallography. The only remaining manual handling step is the transfer of the crystal from the mother liquor onto the crystal holder. Manual mounting is relatively straightforward for crystals with dimensions of >25 µm; however, this step is nontrivial for smaller crystals. The mounting of microcrystals is becoming increasingly important as advances in microfocus synchrotron beamlines now allow data collection from crystals with dimensions of only a few micrometres. To make optimal usage of these beamlines, new approaches have to be taken to facilitate and automate this last manual handling step. Optical tweezers, which are routinely used for the manipulation of micrometre-sized objects, have successfully been applied to sort and mount macromolecular crystals on newly designed crystal holders. Diffraction data from CPV type 1 polyhedrin microcrystals mounted with laser tweezers are presented.
laser tweezers; optical trapping; microcrystals; crystal manipulation; sample holders
The BL-17A macromolecular crystallography beamline at the Photon Factory was updated to improve the accuracy of diffraction experiments conducted using tiny crystals.
BL-17A is a macromolecular crystallography beamline dedicated to diffraction experiments conducted using micro-crystals and structure determination studies using a lower energy X-ray beam. In these experiments, highly accurate diffraction intensity measurements are definitively important. Since this beamline was constructed, the beamline apparatus has been improved in several ways to enable the collection of accurate diffraction data. The stability of the beam intensities at the sample position was recently improved by modifying the monochromator. The diffractometer has also been improved. A new detector table was installed to prevent distortions in the diffractometer’s base during the repositioning of the diffractometer detector. A new pinhole system and an on-axis viewing system were installed to improve the X-ray beam profile at the sample position and the centering of tiny crystal samples.
macromolecular crystallography; beamline
Thoughts about the decisions made in designing macromolecular X-ray crystallography experiments at synchrotron beamlines are presented.
The measurement of X-ray diffraction data from macromolecular crystals for the purpose of structure determination is the convergence of two processes: the preparation of diffraction-quality crystal samples on the one hand and the construction and optimization of an X-ray beamline and end station on the other. Like sample preparation, a macromolecular crystallography beamline is geared to obtaining the best possible diffraction measurements from crystals provided by the synchrotron user. This paper describes the thoughts behind an experiment that fully exploits both the sample and the beamline and how these map into everyday decisions that users can and should make when visiting a beamline with their most precious crystals.
macromolecular crystallography; microcrystallography; X-ray beamlines; synchrotron radiation
MxCuBE is a beamline control environment optimized for the needs of macromolecular crystallography. This paper describes the design of the software and the features that MxCuBE currently provides.
The design and features of a beamline control software system for macromolecular crystallography (MX) experiments developed at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) are described. This system, MxCuBE, allows users to easily and simply interact with beamline hardware components and provides automated routines for common tasks in the operation of a synchrotron beamline dedicated to experiments in MX. Additional functionality is provided through intuitive interfaces that enable the assessment of the diffraction characteristics of samples, experiment planning, automatic data collection and the on-line collection and analysis of X-ray emission spectra. The software can be run in a tandem client-server mode that allows for remote control and relevant experimental parameters and results are automatically logged in a relational database, ISPyB. MxCuBE is modular, flexible and extensible and is currently deployed on eight macromolecular crystallography beamlines at the ESRF. Additionally, the software is installed at MAX-lab beamline I911-3 and at BESSY beamline BL14.1.
automation; macromolecular crystallography; synchrotron beamline control; graphical user interface
A ‘mini-beam’ apparatus has been developed that conditions the size of an X-ray beam to 5 µm. The design of the apparatus and the characterization of the focal size and flux are presented.
The high-brilliance X-ray beams from undulator sources at third-generation synchrotron facilities are excellent tools for solving crystal structures of important and challenging biological macromolecules and complexes. However, many of the most important structural targets yield crystals that are too small or too inhomogeneous for a ‘standard’ beam from an undulator source, ∼25–50 µm (FWHM) in the vertical and 50–100 µm in the horizontal direction. Although many synchrotron facilities have microfocus beamlines for other applications, this capability for macromolecular crystallography was pioneered at ID-13 of the ESRF. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences and National Cancer Institute Collaborative Access Team (GM/CA-CAT) dual canted undulator beamlines at the APS deliver high-intensity focused beams with a minimum focal size of 20 µm × 65 µm at the sample position. To meet growing user demand for beams to study samples of 10 µm or less, a ‘mini-beam’ apparatus was developed that conditions the focused beam to either 5 µm or 10 µm (FWHM) diameter with high intensity. The mini-beam has a symmetric Gaussian shape in both the horizontal and vertical directions, and reduces the vertical divergence of the focused beam by 25%. Significant reduction in background was achieved by implementation of both forward- and back-scatter guards. A unique triple-collimator apparatus, which has been in routine use on both undulator beamlines since February 2008, allows users to rapidly interchange the focused beam and conditioned mini-beams of two sizes with a single mouse click. The device and the beam are stable over many hours of routine operation. The rapid-exchange capability has greatly facilitated sample screening and resulted in several structures that could not have been obtained with the larger focused beam.
mini-beam; microbeam; microdiffraction; macromolecular crystallography
At the Photon Factory macromolecular crystallography beamlines, two new functions, remote monitoring and diffraction image evaluation, have been developed and installed on the beamline controlling system STARS (simple transmission and retrieval system).
Owing to recent advances in high-throughput technology in macromolecular crystallography beamlines, such as high-brilliant X-ray sources, high-speed readout detectors and robotics, the number of samples that can be examined in a single visit to the beamline has increased dramatically. In order to make these experiments more efficient, two functions, remote monitoring and diffraction image evaluation, have been implemented in the macromolecular crystallography beamlines at the Photon Factory (PF). Remote monitoring allows scientists to participate in the experiment by watching from their laboratories, without having to come to the beamline. Diffraction image evaluation makes experiments easier, especially when using the sample exchange robot. To implement these two functions, two independent clients have been developed that work specifically for remote monitoring and diffraction image evaluation. In the macromolecular crystallography beamlines at PF, beamline control is performed using STARS (simple transmission and retrieval system). The system adopts a client–server style in which client programs communicate with each other through a server process using the STARS protocol. This is an advantage of the extension of the system; implementation of these new functions required few modifications of the existing system.
macromolecular crystallography; beamline control system; remote monitoring; diffraction image evaluation
The macromolecular crystallography experiment lends itself perfectly to high-throughput technologies. The initial steps including the expression, purification and crystallization of protein crystals, along with some of the later steps involving data processing and structure determination have all been automated to the point where some of the last remaining bottlenecks in the process have been crystal mounting, crystal screening and data collection. At the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL), a National User Facility which provides extremely brilliant X-ray photon beams for use in materials science, environmental science and structural biology research, the incorporation of advanced robotics has enabled crystals to be screened in a true high-throughput fashion, thus dramatically accelerating the final steps. Up to 288 frozen crystals can be mounted by the beamline robot (the Stanford Automated Mounter, or SAM) and screened for diffraction quality in a matter of hours without intervention. The best quality crystals can then be remounted for the collection of complete X-ray diffraction data sets. Furthermore, the entire screening and data collection experiment can be controlled from the experimenter’s home laboratory by means of advanced software tools that enable network-based control of the highly automated beamlines.
protein crystallography; cryocrystallography; high-throughput screening; robotics; remote access
A fast, user-friendly and easily extensible beamline-control system based on a combination of Java Eclipse RCP and EPICS and featuring a user interface similar to that of the SSRL BluIce has been developed at the GM/CA-CAT macromolecular crystallography beamlines in Sector 23 of the Advanced Photon Source.
The trio of macromolecular crystallography beamlines constructed by the General Medicine and Cancer Institutes Collaborative Access Team (GM/CA-CAT) in Sector 23 of the Advanced Photon Source (APS) have been in growing demand owing to their outstanding beam quality and capacity to measure data from crystals of only a few micrometres in size. To take full advantage of the state-of-the-art mechanical and optical design of these beamlines, a significant effort has been devoted to designing fast, convenient, intuitive and robust beamline controls that could easily accommodate new beamline developments. The GM/CA-CAT beamline controls are based on the power of EPICS for distributed hardware control, the rich Java graphical user interface of Eclipse RCP and the task-oriented philosophy as well as the look and feel of the successful SSRL BluIce graphical user interface for crystallography. These beamline controls feature a minimum number of software layers, the wide use of plug-ins that can be written in any language and unified motion controls that allow on-the-fly scanning and optimization of any beamline component. This paper describes the ways in which BluIce was combined with EPICS and converted into the Java-based JBluIce, discusses the solutions aimed at streamlining and speeding up operations and gives an overview of the tools that are provided by this new open-source control system for facilitating crystallographic experiments, especially in the field of microcrystallography.
macromolecular crystallography; beamline automation; data acquisition; high-throughput crystallography
SPring-8 BL41XU provides a high-flux X-ray beam of size 10–50 µm, and enables high-quality diffraction data to be obtained from various types of protein crystals. Details of this beamline and an upgrade project are described.
SPring-8 BL41XU is a high-flux macromolecular crystallography beamline using an in-vacuum undulator as a light source. The X-rays are monochromated by a liquid-nitrogen-cooling Si double-crystal monochromator, and focused by Kirkpatrick–Baez mirror optics. The focused beam size at the sample is 80 µm (H) × 22 µm (V) with a photon flux of 1.1 × 1013 photons s−1. A pinhole aperture is used to collimate the beam in the range 10–50 µm. This high-flux beam with variable size provides opportunities not only for micro-crystallography but also for data collection effectively making use of crystal volume. The beamline also provides high-energy X-rays covering 20.6–35.4 keV which allows ultra-high-resolution data to be obtained and anomalous diffraction using the K-edge of Xe and I. Upgrade of BL41XU for more rapid and accurate data collection is proceeding. Here, details of BL41XU are given and an outline of the upgrade project is documented.
macromolecular crystallography; micro-crystallography; high-flux beam; high-energy beam; SPring-8
The key features of the functionality facilitating proprietary use of the ESRF’s structural biology beamlines are described, as are the major advantages, in terms of beamline evolution, of the interaction of the ESRF with the pharmaceutical industry.
The ESRF has worked with, and provided services for, the pharmaceutical industry since the construction of its first protein crystallography beamline in the mid-1990s. In more recent times, industrial clients have benefited from a portfolio of beamlines which offer a wide range of functionality and beam characteristics, including tunability, microfocus and micro-aperture. Included in this portfolio is a small-angle X-ray scattering beamline dedicated to the study of biological molecules in solution. The high demands on throughput and efficiency made by the ESRF’s industrial clients have been a major driving force in the evolution of the ESRF’s macromolecular crystallography resources, which now include remote access, the automation of crystal screening and data collection, and a beamline database allowing sample tracking, experiment reporting and real-time at-a-distance monitoring of experiments. This paper describes the key features of the functionality put in place on the ESRF structural biology beamlines and outlines the major advantages of the interaction of the ESRF with the pharmaceutical industry.
synchrotron MX beamlines; proprietary access; service data collection; automation
Macromolecular-crystallography (MX) beamlines routinely provide a possibility to change X-ray beam energy, focus the beam to a size of tens of microns, align a sample on a microdiffractometer using on-axis video microscope, and collect data with an area-detector positioned in three dimensions. These capabilities allow for running complementary measurements of small-angle X-ray scattering and diffraction (SAXS) at the same beamline with such additions to the standard MX setup as a vacuum path between the sample and the detector, a modified beam stop, and a custom sample cell. On the 21-ID-D MX beamline at the Advanced Photon Source we attach a vacuum flight tube to the area detector support and use the support motion for aligning a beam stop built into the rear end of the flight tube. At 8 KeV energy and 1 m sample-to-detector distance we can achieve a small-angle resolution of 0.01A−1 in the reciprocal space. Measuring SAXS with this setup, we have studied phase diagrams of lipidic mesophases used as matrices for membrane-protein crystallization. The outcome of crystallization trials is significantly affected by the structure of the lipidic mesophases, which is determined by the composition of the crystallization mixture. We use a microfluidic chip for the mesophase formulation and in situ SAXS data collection. Using the MX beamline and the microfluidic platform we have demonstrated the viability of the high-throughput SAXS studies facilitating screening of lipidic matrices for membrane-protein crystallization.
The MiNaXS (P03) beamline of the new third-generation synchrotron radiation source PETRA III (DESY, Germany) has been designed to perform small-, ultra-small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering in both transmission and grazing-incidence geometries. The high photon flux available at the beamline enables time-resolved investigations of kinetic phenomena with a time resolution below 100 ms. The microfocus endstation started user operation in May 2011.
The P03 beamline, also called the microfocus and nanofocus X-ray scattering (MiNaXS) beamline, exploits the excellent photon beam properties of the low-emittance source PETRA III to provide a microfocused/nanofocused beam with ultra-high intensity for time-resolved X-ray scattering experiments. The beamline has been designed to perform X-ray scattering in both transmission and reflection geometries. The microfocus endstation started user operation in May 2011 ▶. An overview of the beamline status and of some representative results highlighting the performance of the microfocus endstation at MiNaXS are given.
X-ray scattering; microfocus; kinetic studies; nanocomposites
The ultimate goal of synchrotron data collection is to obtain the best possible data from the best available crystals, and the combination of automation and remote access at Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) has revolutionized the way in which scientists achieve this goal. This has also seen a change in the way novice crystallographers are trained in the use of the beamlines, and a wide range of remote tools and hands-on workshops are now offered by SSRL to facilitate the education of the next generation of protein crystallographers.
For the past five years, the Structural Molecular Biology group at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) has provided general users of the facility with fully remote access to the macromolecular crystallography beamlines. This was made possible by implementing fully automated beamlines with a flexible control system and an intuitive user interface, and by the development of the robust and efficient Stanford automated mounting robotic sample-changing system. The ability to control a synchrotron beamline remotely from the comfort of the home laboratory has set a new paradigm for the collection of high-quality X-ray diffraction data and has fostered new collaborative research, whereby a number of remote users from different institutions can be connected at the same time to the SSRL beamlines. The use of remote access has revolutionized the way in which scientists interact with synchrotron beamlines and collect diffraction data, and has also triggered a shift in the way crystallography students are introduced to synchrotron data collection and trained in the best methods for collecting high-quality data. SSRL provides expert crystallographic and engineering staff, state-of-the-art crystallography beamlines, and a number of accessible tools to facilitate data collection and in-house remote training, and encourages the use of these facilities for education, training, outreach and collaborative research.
protein crystallography; high-throughput screening; robotics; remote access; crystallographic education and training; outreach
Two sample-scanning features have been implemented for the macromolecular crystallography beamlines at APS sector 23: automated diffraction-based rastering employing multiple polygon-shaped two-dimensional grids overlaid on a sample to locate and center small and invisible crystals or to find the best-diffracting regions in a larger crystal, and automated data collection along a three-dimensional vector to mitigate the effects of radiation damage.
Automated scanning capabilities have been added to the data acquisition software, JBluIce-EPICS, at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Cancer Institute Collaborative Access Team (GM/CA CAT) at the Advanced Photon Source. A ‘raster’ feature enables sample centering via diffraction scanning over two-dimensional grids of simple rectangular or complex polygonal shape. The feature is used to locate crystals that are optically invisible owing to their small size or are visually obfuscated owing to properties of the sample mount. The raster feature is also used to identify the best-diffracting regions of large inhomogeneous crystals. Low-dose diffraction images taken at grid positions are automatically processed in real time to provide a quick quality ranking of potential data-collection sites. A ‘vector collect’ feature mitigates the effects of radiation damage by scanning the sample along a user-defined three-dimensional vector during data collection to maximize the use of the crystal volume and the quality of the collected data. These features are integrated into the JBluIce-EPICS data acquisition software developed at GM/CA CAT where they are used in combination with a robust mini-beam of rapidly changeable diameter from 5 µm to 20 µm. The powerful software–hardware combination is being applied to challenging problems in structural biology.
macromolecular crystallography; beamline automation; data acquisition; high-throughput crystallography; crystal centering; radiation damage; rastering
The latest revolution in macromolecular crystallography was incited by the development of dedicated, user friendly, micro-crystallography beamlines. Brilliant X-ray beams of diameter 20 microns or less, now available at most synchrotron sources, enable structure determination from samples that previously were inaccessible. Relative to traditional crystallography, crystals with one or more small dimensions have diffraction patterns with vastly improved signal-to-noise when recorded with an appropriately matched beam size. Structures can be solved from isolated, well diffracting regions within inhomogeneous samples. This review summarizes the technological requirements and approaches to producing micro-beams and how they continue to change the practice of crystallography.
Improved methods for indexing diffraction patterns from macromolecular crystals are presented. The novel procedures include a more robust way to verify the position of the incident X-ray beam on the detector, an algorithm to verify that the deduced lattice basis is consistent with the observations, and an alternative approach to identify the metric symmetry of the lattice.
Improved methods for indexing diffraction patterns from macromolecular crystals are presented. The novel procedures include a more robust way to verify the position of the incident X-ray beam on the detector, an algorithm to verify that the deduced lattice basis is consistent with the observations, and an alternative approach to identify the metric symmetry of the lattice. These methods help to correct failures commonly experienced during indexing, and increase the overall success rate of the process. Rapid indexing, without the need for visual inspection, will play an important role as beamlines at synchrotron sources prepare for high-throughput automation.
indexing; autoindexing; data collection; computer programs; high-throughput automation; macromolecular crystallography
We describe a concept for x-ray optics to feed a pair of macromolecular crystallography (MX) beamlines which view canted undulator radiation sources in the same storage ring straight section. It can be deployed at NSLS-II and at other low-emittance third-generation synchrotron radiation sources where canted undulators are permitted, and makes the most of these sources and beamline floor space, even when the horizontal angle between the two canted undulator emissions is as little as 1-2 mrad. The concept adopts the beam-separation principles employed at the 23-ID (GM/CA-CAT) beamlines at the Advanced Photon Source (APS), wherein tandem horizontally-deflecting mirrors separate one undulator beam from the other, following monochromatization by a double-crystal monochromator. The scheme described here would, in contrast, deliver the two tunable monochromatic undulator beams to separate endstations that address rather different and somewhat complementary purposes, with further beam conditioning imposed as required. A downstream microfocusing beamline would employ dual-stage focusing for work at the micron scale and, unique to this design, switch to single stage focusing for larger beams. On the other hand, the upstream, more highly automated beamline would only employ single stage focusing.
A high-precision diffractometer with a synchrotron radiation microfocusing technique has been developed to investigate the crystal structure of a submicrometre-scale single grain of powder sample. The structure of a BaTiO3 single powder grain, of dimensions ∼600 × 600 × 300 nm, was determined.
A high-precision diffractometer has been developed for the structure analysis of a submicrometre-scale single grain of a powder sample at the SPring-8 BL40XU undulator beamline. The key design concept is the combination of a stable focused synchrotron radiation beam and the precise axis control of the diffractometer, which allows accurate diffraction intensity data of a submicrometre-scale single powder grain to be measured. The phase zone plate was designed to create a high-flux focused synchrotron radiation beam. A low-eccentric goniometer and high-precision sample positioning stages were adopted to ensure the alignment of a micrometre-scale focused synchrotron radiation beam onto the submicrometre-scale single powder grain. In order to verify the diffractometer performance, the diffraction pattern data of several powder grains of BaTiO3, of dimensions ∼600 × 600 × 300 nm, were measured. By identifying the diffraction data set of one single powder grain, the crystal structure was successfully determined with a reliable factor of 5.24%.
submicrometre X-ray beam; phase zone plate; X-ray diffraction; single-crystal structure analysis; powder diffraction
A special liquid-nitrogen Dewar with double capacity for the sample-exchange robot has been created at AR-NE3A at the Photon Factory, allowing continuous fully automated data collection. In this work, this new system is described and the stability of its calibration is discussed.
Photon Factory Automated Mounting system (PAM) protein crystal exchange systems are available at the following Photon Factory macromolecular beamlines: BL-1A, BL-5A, BL-17A, AR-NW12A and AR-NE3A. The beamline AR-NE3A has been constructed for high-throughput macromolecular crystallography and is dedicated to structure-based drug design. The PAM liquid-nitrogen Dewar can store a maximum of three SSRL cassettes. Therefore, users have to interrupt their experiments and replace the cassettes when using four or more of them during their beam time. As a result of investigation, four or more cassettes were used in AR-NE3A alone. For continuous automated data collection, the size of the liquid-nitrogen Dewar for the AR-NE3A PAM was increased, doubling the capacity. In order to check the calibration with the new Dewar and the cassette stand, calibration experiments were repeatedly performed. Compared with the current system, the parameters of the novel system are shown to be stable.
protein crystallography; sample-exchange robot; automated system
Characterization of PILATUS single-photon-counting X-ray detector modules regarding charge sharing, energy resolution and rate capability is presented. The performance of the detector was tested with surface diffraction experiments at the synchrotron.
PILATUS is a silicon hybrid pixel detector system, operating in single-photon-counting mode, that has been developed at the Paul Scherrer Institut for the needs of macromolecular crystallography at the Swiss Light Source (SLS). A calibrated PILATUS module has been characterized with monochromatic synchrotron radiation. The influence of charge sharing on the count rate and the overall energy resolution of the detector were investigated. The dead-time of the system was determined using the attenuated direct synchrotron beam. A single module detector was also tested in surface diffraction experiments at the SLS, whereby its performance regarding fluorescence suppression and saturation tolerance were evaluated, and have shown to greatly improve the sensitivity, reliability and speed of surface diffraction data acquisition.
hybrid pixel detector; single photon counting; energy resolution; charge sharing; dead-time; surface X-ray diffraction
Accurate measurement of photon flux from an X-ray source is a parameter required to calculate the dose absorbed by a sample. The development of a model for determining the photon flux incident on pin diodes, and experiments to test this model, are described for incident energies between 4 and 18 keV used in macromolecular crystallography.
Accurate measurement of photon flux from an X-ray source, a parameter required to calculate the dose absorbed by the sample, is not yet routinely available at macromolecular crystallography beamlines. The development of a model for determining the photon flux incident on pin diodes is described here, and has been tested on the macromolecular crystallography beamlines at both the Swiss Light Source, Villigen, Switzerland, and the Advanced Light Source, Berkeley, USA, at energies between 4 and 18 keV. These experiments have shown that a simple model based on energy deposition in silicon is sufficient for determining the flux incident on high-quality silicon pin diodes. The derivation and validation of this model is presented, and a web-based tool for the use of the macromolecular crystallography and wider synchrotron community is introduced.
macromolecular crystallography; flux determination; silicon pin diode; absorbed dose
An X-ray mini-beam of 8 × 6 µm cross-section was used to collect diffraction data from protein microcrystals with volumes as small as 150–300 µm3. The benefits of the mini-beam for experiments with small crystals and with large inhomogeneous crystals are investigated.
A simple apparatus for achieving beam sizes in the range 5–10 µm on a synchrotron beamline was implemented in combination with a small 125 × 25 µm focus. The resulting beam had sufficient flux for crystallographic data collection from samples smaller than 10 × 10 × 10 µm. Sample data were collected representing three different scenarios: (i) a complete 2.0 Å data set from a single strongly diffracting microcrystal, (ii) a complete and redundant 1.94 Å data set obtained by merging data from six microcrystals and (iii) a complete 2.24 Å data set from a needle-shaped crystal with less than 12 × 10 µm cross-section and average diffracting power. The resulting data were of high quality, leading to well refined structures with good electron-density maps. The signal-to-noise ratios for data collected from small crystals with the mini-beam were significantly higher than for equivalent data collected from the same crystal with a 125 × 25 µm beam. Relative to this large beam, use of the mini-beam also resulted in lower refined crystal mosaicities. The mini-beam proved to be advantageous for inhomogeneous large crystals, where better ordered regions could be selected by the smaller beam.
mini-beam; microbeam; microcrystals; microdiffraction; high mosaicity; inhomogeneous crystal; signal-to-noise; crystal segment; beam divergence; streaky spots