DECTRIS Ltd. Delivered Customized PILATUS 12M-DLS Detector to Diamond Light Source

Didcot (UK), (PresseBox) - DECTRIS Ltd. delivered and installed the unique PILATUS 12M-DLS detector for the I23 beamline at Diamond Light Source, the UK's national synchrotron science facility. The highly specialized in vacuum X-ray detector is an important component of the beamline, one of the most ambitious macromolecular crystallography (MX) beamlines to be built anywhere in the world.

The I23 beamline, with the PILATUS 12M-DLS as one of its key components, will facilitate challenging research on DNA, RNA, native proteins and other building blocks of life. The scientific goal of I23, to use long wavelengths to tackle the crystallographic phase problem, has long been hampered by strong air absorption and large scattering angles. However, this approach is vital for projects where protein labelling to introduce anomalous scattering is not feasible. The PILATUS 12M-DLS, a DECTRIS Specific Solution built in close collaboration with the I23 beamline team, effectively overcomes these limitations. Placing sample and detector in vacuum eliminates air absorption. The semi-cylindrical shape of the detector covers a 2θ range of ±100° and allows to simultaneously collect low- and high-resolution data.

Armin Wagner, Principal Beamline Scientist for I23, explains: "This beamline, which will come online for first users this summer, will be an important additional tool for crystallography at Diamond. It will utilise long wavelength X-rays and, in doing so, offer a unique facility for carrying out challenging research on DNA, RNA, native proteins and other building blocks of life. To facilitate this, we need an in vacuum detector that is calibrated for low-energy X-rays. When we began this project, no such detector was commercially available. DECTRIS helped us to turn an ambitious in vacuum low-energy detector development project into a reality."

The 12M-DLS detector is a customer specific solution to fulfill all requirements of the scientists at Diamond. It consists of 120 PILATUS detector modules mounted on a high precision frame to form a semi-cylindrical shape. With an active area of 0.34 m2, this is the largest PILATUS detector ever built. The detector can detect X-rays with low energies like 1.8 keV and it is vacuum compatible down to a pressure of 10-6 mbar. The modules are water-cooled and the system is built without a single direct water-to-vacuum connection, which greatly reduces the risk of vacuum contamination. For performance and maintenance reasons the read-out electronics are placed in an electrical cabinet outside the vacuum chamber. The electrical connections between the modules and the read-out electronics involve over 400 meters of vacuum cabling and over 6700 vacuum-to-air feedthrough pins. Finally, the electrical and software interface is identical to a standard PILATUS3 detector. Therefore the integration is very simple and existing tools and software can be used.

"On previous specific solution projects DECTRIS has gained extensive experience with in-vacuum detectors, custom geometries and special energy calibrations", explains Benjamin Lüthi, project manager for the PILATUS 12M-DLS. "But the combination of these three key technologies on such a high level posed some real challenges. The results from the initial tests of the PILATUS 12M detector at the beamline exceed our expectation and we feel rewarded after all the hard work and many careful thoughts that went into this elaborate design."

About Diamond

Diamond Light Source, a joint venture between the UK Government and the Wellcome Trust, is located on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire. By accelerating electrons to near light-speed, Diamond generates brilliant beams of light from infra-red to X-rays which are used for academic and industry research and development across a range of scientific disciplines including structural biology, physics, chemistry, materials science, engineering, earth and environmental sciences. For more information, please visit


DECTRIS Ltd. is one of the technically leading companies in X-ray detection. The DECTRIS photon counting detectors have transformed basic research at synchrotron light sources, as well as in the laboratory and with industrial X-Ray applications. DECTRIS aims to continuously improve the measurement quality, thereby enabling new scientific findings. The broad range of products is based on this pioneering technology, all scaled to meet the needs of various applications. DECTRIS also provides solutions for customer developments in scientific and industrial X-Ray detection.

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