Current status of Macromolecular Crystallography BeamLines at the Photon Factory

Photon Factory, High Energy Accelerator Research Organization
â—‹Naohiro MATSUGAKI Masanori Kobayashi Yusuke Yamada Noriyuki Igarashi Masahiko Hiraki Yurii A Gaponov Soichi Wakatsuki

Macromolecular crystallography (MX) beam lines are required to be more stable, user-friendly and high-throughput according to recent expansion of the field of structural biology. One of the solutions is to automate experiments as many aspects as possible. Increasing users unfamiliar with synchrotron facilities can perform experiments efficiently using well-organized beamline control system, which should be flexible to accept forthcoming technologies and methods. Recent development at currently operated three MX beamlines, NW12A, 5A.and 6A at the Photon Factory was mainly focused on various optimizations to bring out the capability of the beamlines.
We have recently installed sample changers in the insertion device beamlines, NW12A and 5A, to reduce the time wasted in the repetition in mounting and dismounting samples on the goniometer. The changers are now under commission and will be available in 2006. Beamline control software was modified to be more stable and functional with a graphical user interface (GUI) through which users can execute all the operations required in MX experiments. The GUI was designed to provide a simple way to complete experiments with minimum steps of intervention. Another control system based on a relational database is under development in parallel, which should allow secure remote access and automatic scheduled experiments together with the sample changer. Due to the database feature, information in the system can be easily tracked and managed.
To extend targets to macromolecules difficult to crystallize in a sufficient size, we have constructed a new micro-focus beamline, 17A, dedicated to diffraction experiments with micron-size crystals. The public operation will commence in 2006, after test experiments using various sizes of crystals.