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Diamond opens new X-ray nanoprobe beamline

Stretching 185 m from the main synchrotron building, the hard X-ray nanoprobe beamline (I14) is housed in a separate building alongside Diamond Light Source’s electron Bio-Imaging Centre (eBIC) and electron Physical Sciences Imaging Centre (ePSIC). The beamline provides fluorescence, spectroscopy and diffraction capabilities, and the X‑ray nanoprobe is the smallest hard X-ray beam available at Diamond and will offer researchers higher resolution images at even greater depths into samples.

The first users are from global speciality chemicals company, Johnson Matthey, who are probing how catalysts function at the nanoscale. Catalysts are thought to be involved in 90% of all chemical processes. Understanding their function better at the atomic scale can unleash improved processes for industry.

“Initially we’ve used Diamond’s Microfocus Spectroscopy beamline (I18) to investigate these catalysts using a 5 µm spot size”, says Dr Peter Ellis, Senior Principal Scientist, Johnson Matthey. “This new beamline gives us insight into the structure and mode of operation of catalysts at a very high resolution.”

“For us, being able to investigate these catalysts over a range of length scales, from micrometres to angstroms is very interesting”, adds Dr Manfred Schuster, Senior Scientist, Johnson Matthey, who is based at Diamond. “The complementary nature of the I14 and I18 beamlines, coupled with the electron microscopes available, is highly beneficial to our research.”

Diamond staff are working with Johnson Matthey to develop an adaptor to help move samples directly between I14 and the two electron microscopes for physical sciences, one of which is owned by Johnson Matthey. “Easily moving between the two—which are only metres apart—really makes sense”, continues Dr Schuster.

During this first run, I14 will produce X-ray beams of 200 nm. “Now begins the process of optimisation”, continues Dr Quinn. “In the next couple of months we’re targeting getting the beam down to 50 nm which will allow us to examine samples at even greater levels of detail.”

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