Scientists at the Diamond Light Source in South Oxfordshire are using a custom-engineered 21-axis positioning system designed and built by Heason Technology to provide beam collimation, optical focussing and optical modification for the newly commissioned I24 Microfocus Macromolecular Crystallography (MX) beamline.
One of the major applications for this beamline is to investigate the link between the structure and function of molecules known as membrane proteins. These proteins prove excellent targets for drug delivery and are increasingly used in drug design to combat major diseases and viruses.
Diamond Light Source uses state-of-the-art technologies to produce a much finer and incredibly more intense beam than the older synchrotrons resulting in a highly tuneable X- ray beam size between 5 to 30 microns. The positioning and beam modifying requirements for I24 requires nanometre level manipulation of the beam around the higher quality areas of the crystallised sample.
The challenge to deliver such small focussed beams and modify their characteristics has been solved using a combination of motion control technologies. The beamline includes manual and stepper motor positioning for some parts of the beam-to-detector area and for less demanding displacements such as attenuating filters. For highly precise beam collimation and optical modification, sub-micron resolution ceramic motors from Nanomotion were used.
As each positioning system is closely integrated and essentially shares the same mechanical housing, a part of which is a vacuum chamber, Diamond decided that the best approach was to use a single supplier to provide a customised solution for this entire area of the machine. The vacuum chamber is designed and built by Heason as part of the scope of supply.
Although a relatively moderate vacuum level is used, components are fully vacuum compatible. The chamber houses a 4-axis beam collimation positioner which comprises four ‘jaws’ used to shape and tune the X-ray beam.
Heason’s design and engineering department worked closely with Diamond scientists to design and develop the positioning systems around the available space, and a considerable mixture of instrumentation devices and other key components.