Discover Brookhaven

Capturing the Light:
Advanced NSLS Detectors Boost Precision, Speed of Data Collection

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Rendering of NSLS-II

NSLS-II Anticipates Expected Needs of Its User Community

The NSLS-II is scheduled to start full operations in June 2015. Staff members are working on final engineering design documents, which will be used to build the facility.  After they are reviewed, the project expects to receive approval of CD-3, which will allow construction to begin.  By early 2009, the project expects to award a $200 million contract for ring construction. More...

FaST group

As part of a Department of Energy Faculty and Student Team, Southern University professor Elhag Shaban (left) brings his students to the NSLS in the summer to work on numerous detector and synchrotron-related projects.

In the first demonstration of this technique, the research team produced a 4 mega pixel image of a 14th century tooth and looked for lead accumulation that might indicate the presence of lead poisoning hundreds of years ago. The image was produced in just about six hours, a task that would normally take days, Siddons said. The group is currently building two 400-element detectors: one for the NSLS and one for the Australian Synchrotron.

The BNL group has also developed novel detectors for powder diffraction experiments. In this technique, researchers illuminate a crystalline sample with “hard,” or high-energy, x-rays, which are scattered into very specific directions with various strengths. Detectors are used to measure this “diffraction pattern,” which is then processed by computers to determine the arrangement of atoms within the crystal.

The new devices, just 80 millimeters long and 4 millimeters wide, contain 640 individual detectors arranged on 20extremely thin strips. Each strip can register up to one million photons per second — a performance level that no other competing detector can achieve, Siddons said. The detectors group recently built three of these detectors: one for Argonne National Laboratory, one for a beamline run by Brookhaven’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials, and another as a pool instrument for general use at the NSLS. These new devices will improve data collection for numerous materials science studies, from catalysts and semiconductor technology to drug design, Siddons said.

Although small, the NSLS detector group has made its presence known around the world. The group is producing fast imaging detectors for the LUSI project, a portion of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center’s x-ray free-electron laser project; working with a Faculty and Student Team (FaST) from Southern University in Louisiana on a detector meant to pinpoint small concentrations of elements in environmental experiments; and is starting up new collaborations everywhere from Brazil to Taiwan.   

“I’m always keeping my eyes open for places where a detector could make a difference,” Siddons said.