XMaS: The UK Materials Science Facility at the ESRF

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Physics

Abstract

Synchrotron radiation (SR) sources provide brilliant beams of light by accelerating electrons at high energies around a circular magnetic lattice. The resulting X-rays provide a uniquely powerful tool in the exploration of structure, composition and excitations in materials. The UK has been at the forefront of SR provision for decades, building the world's first dedicated facility in 1981. Insertion devices, first introduced as part of the lattice at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and then incorporated into the new magnetic lattice at the Diamond Light Source (DLS), increased the flux and beam quality, greatly increasing the impact of SR across the physical and life-science portfolios. New magnets and vacuum technologies mean that storage rings can now be designed to give X-ray beams with hugely increased brilliance (flux per unit area per unit solid angle in a specified bandwidth) and coherence. These transformative designs are redefining the SR landscape with all major facilities planning upgrades to this lattice technology.

The XMaS (X-ray Materials Science) beamline facility is part of the ESRF which, in 2019, undergoes the final phase of its upgrade programme (EBS project) with the installation of an ultra-low emittance storage ring. After the EBS upgrade the XMaS beamline will have more than an order of magnitude increase in usable flux for most experiments due to a smaller focused beam size. The new source characteristics also allow higher X-ray energies to be used and expand the scientific challenges that can currently be addressed. For the first time, it will be possible to study the same sample volume across an extensive energy range and within the same sample environment. This will enable real time reactions to be followed on a site-by-site basis, opening up new opportunities for studying materials relevant to catalysis and green chemistry applications. The facility will deliver new insights into quantum critical behaviour as well as facilitating studies of confinement and proximity in magnetic and superconducting materials at low temperatures (1-10 K). Newly combined X-ray metrologies enable structure to be measured across a wide range of length and time scales simultaneously. More systems will be studied in-operando and under technologically relevant conditions, for example, the study of ionic migration in battery systems and photovoltaics. Structural studies will become spatially resolved allowing studies of individual domains and their temporal evolution under external stimuli. An upper energy of ~33 keV will extend studies of buried interfaces in complex sample environments, for example, solid-liquid interfaces, relevant to electrochemical technologies. External stimuli including electrical and magnetic fields as well as humidity, gaseous atmospheres and temperature control (1 to 1200 K) will all be available.

XMaS is an enabling tool, and provides an essential part of the UK research infrastructure for material science ensuring that UK researchers have access to state-of-the-art instrumentation, expertise and techniques now and into the future. By providing an essential layer of capacity and unique capabilities, XMaS facilitates investigator-led research by enabling X-ray characterisation across a range of temporal and spatial length scales. In addition, by training students and early career researchers, XMaS provides highly skilled individuals to the wider materials research base. Partnerships with national research centres and international collaborators ensure the future competitiveness, resilience and creativity of the UK materials sector which relies on the development, characterisation and exploitation of novel functional materials. The balance of science on XMaS will encompass both long-term discovery-led research as well as shorter term impact-focused research thereby providing an environment for transformative, challenge-led material science research.

Planned Impact

XMaS: The EPSRC's National UK Materials Science beamline at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) is a synchrotron beamline embedded in the European Photon and Neutron (EPN) Science Campus in Grenoble, France and has been supporting the UK material sciences community since 1997. During the final phase of a planned upgrade to the ESRF, the XMaS beamline will undergo a significant modernisation to deliver a new state-of-the-art facility exploiting the capabilities of the new ESRF machine. The revamped XMaS will provide a bright x-ray beam, primarily for UK users, to investigate the structure and properties of the latest generation of functional materials.
By taking data simultaneously from samples using a range of different techniques and at high speeds it is possible to explore the correlation between the sample's structure and its functional properties. Even better insight is gleaned by performing such studies In-operando and under realistic operating or industrial conditions. The facility will bring academic and industrial partners together, provide an efficient pathway for materials discovery and provide the underpinning characterisation essential for delivering new technologies to the marketplace. As the research is generally interdisciplinary in nature, any developments in one research bring immediately impact others driving innovation in sample design and advanced metrologies.

The relatively simple beamline design and the direct involvement in the experiments by the on-site staff have enabled XMaS to work with our users and external partners in delivering collaborative projects. Much of this work involves the design, development and implementation of new sample environments giving additional capabilities to the research teams on the beamline and generating additional revenue from commercial licence agreements. This work benefits both the companies we work with and other scientists around the world, who purchase and use the instrumentation. New collaborations with scientists at the Diamond Light Source (DLS) will drive advanced data manipulation and analysis methodologies at both facilities, which in turn, will impact a broad range of scientists from PhD students through to experienced synchrotron users.

Synchrotron studies tend to be collaborative and XMaS will ensure that international collaboration is nurtured. Being located at the ESRF, XMaS will facilitate interactions between multinational users and provides a unique training opportunity for the next generation of material scientists: typically ~40% of the XMaS users are new and we train ~60 PhD students and young researchers a year. Both numbers likely to increase by 20% after the instrument upgrade. To increase this impact still further we will also provide onsite placements as well as bespoke technique training courses to support CDTs and Marie-Curie networks.

Research impact will be disseminated through peer-review publications as well as at user meetings, conferences and seminars. Press-release case studies with multimedia content associated with high impact publications will increase awareness and interest. A dynamic programme of scientific meetings, a strong web and social media presence, utilising scientific networks, as well as increased training with on-site placements, will ensure continuing and deepening community engagement. To inspire and inform the general public, we will use articles in the mainstream press and industry journals to augment peer reviewed output coupled with the active outreach program. The "XMaS Scientist Experience" (@XMaSSchoolTrip) which runs annually and tackles the important issue of women within STEM careers will be expanded and developed with 'hands-on' demonstrators and short case study video presentations. The output will be used in outreach activities, particularly focused on the local community, which will benefit science education in general.

Publications

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Bikondoa O (2019) XMaS @ the ESRF. in Philosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences

 
Description The XMaS Scientist Experience is a nationwide competition [1] aimed at encouraging young women to consider careers in science, by showing them some opportunities available to them and introducing them to inspirational role models, all within the international setting of the EPN campus [2]. The applicants are required to write about a famous female scientist, her contribution to promoting the cause of women in science, and their own motivation for entering the competition. The prize for the competition winners is a 5 day trip to Grenoble, France. The group of up to 16 year-12 female students visits ESRF, including XMaS, as well as nearby laboratories. A major part of the trip is to take part in the Synchrotron@school programme run by the ESRF. After the trip, the girls share their experiences with family and friends and their peers, further influencing the views of the students' support groups. The XMaS Scientist Experience has now been running for 5 years, allowing us to reflect on the outcomes of the trips. The enthusiasm of the participants afterwards is remarkably positive and they all comment that it is an eye-opener to the roles that they could play as future women in science. The first few years' entrants came only from schools located near the XMaS hubs of Liverpool and Coventry (Warwick) areas. Applicants come now from schools located as far away as Kent and Essex. We have now actively started to target students from Widening Participation backgrounds, devoting specific spaces on the 2020 trip to females from such backgrounds. [1] www.xmas.ac.uk/impact/xmas_scientist_experience/ [2] http://www.epn-campus.eu/
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Education
Impact Types Societal

 
Description The XMaS Scientist Experience 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The XMaS Scientist Experience is a nationwide competition [1] aimed at encouraging young women to consider careers in science, by showing them some opportunities available to them and introducing them to inspirational role models, all within the international setting of the EPN campus [2]. The applicants are required to write about a famous female scientist, her contribution to promoting the cause of women in science, and their own motivation for entering the competition. The prize for the competition winners is a 5 day trip to Grenoble, France. The group of up to 16 year-12 female students visits ESRF, including XMaS, as well as nearby laboratories. A major part of the trip is to take part in the Synchrotron@school programme run by the ESRF. After the trip, the girls share their experiences with family and friends and their peers, further influencing the views of the students' support groups. The XMaS Scientist Experience has now been running for 5 years, allowing us to reflect on the outcomes of the trips. The enthusiasm of the participants afterwards is remarkably positive and they all comment that it is an eye-opener to the roles that they could play as future women in science. The first few years' entrants came only from schools located near the XMaS hubs of Liverpool and Coventry (Warwick) areas. Applicants come now from schools located as far away as Kent and Essex. We have now actively started to target students from Widening Participation backgrounds, devoting specific spaces on the 2020 trip to females from such backgrounds.
[1] www.xmas.ac.uk/impact/xmas_scientist_experience/
[2] http://www.epn-campus.eu/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016,2017,2018,2019,2020
URL https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/xmas/impact/xmas_scientist_experienceb/