XMaS Capital Equipment Upgrade

Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Physics


Synchrotron radiation (SR) sources provide brilliant beams of light by accelerating electrons at high energies around a magnetic lattice. The resulting X-rays provide a uniquely powerful tool in the exploration of structure, composition and excitations in materials. 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.

The XMaS (X-ray Materials Science) beamline facility is part of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) which, in late 2020, completed the final phase of its upgrade programme, the extremely bright source (EBS) project. In parallel with the EBS upgrade, the XMaS beamline also went through an upgrade particularly in the redesign of the X-ray source and X-ray optics which led to a significant increase in the energy range of the X-rays that can be used for experiments. The new X-ray source also led to a decrease in the size of the X-ray beam that is focussed onto the sample position. The result of this upgrade means that experiments can now be performed with outstanding spatial and temporal resolution opening up new possibilities across a range of X-ray methodologies which can be simultaneously applied to probe the structure and function of materials in complex sample environments.

The uplift in capability allows the study of the same small sample volume across an extensive energy range and within the same sample environment on an atomic 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 healthcare and quantum critical behaviour as well as facilitating studies of confinement and proximity in real devices. More systems will be studied operando and under technologically relevant conditions. The higher X-ray energies now available allow studies of buried interfaces in complex sample environments including solid-liquid interfaces relevant to electrochemical technologies and solid-gas interfaces relevant to catalysis. The equipment requested in this proposal is specifically targeted to support these areas of research.
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 encompasses 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.


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