Beamline 12.2.1, the successor to Beamline 11.3.1, achieved first light on December 21, 2017. This new small-molecule crystallography beamline, which will take over the scientific program of 11.3.1, features a number of improvements that will significantly expand the capabilities available to users. Compared with 11.3.1, Beamline 12.2.1 has a much brighter, higher-energy superbend source, which will provide two orders of magnitude higher flux, a significantly broader photon energy range (24 keV maximum, compared with 17 keV maximum), and a focus spot that is ten times smaller.
Beamline 11.3.1 began operations in 2004. Initially, the instrument performed powder diffraction, high-pressure powder diffraction, and small-molecule (single-crystal) crystallography. In 2008, 11.3.1 became dedicated to small-molecule crystallography. The beamline’s capabilities and accomplishments, which are summarized in this recent review article, include nearly 700 peer-reviewed journal articles, 149 of which have been published in high-impact journals.
The 12.2.1 construction project was modeled closely on high-performance optical designs previously developed by a joint ALS/Berkeley Center for Structural Biology team for the sector 8 protein crystallography beamline upgrades. It also reuses significant components from those beamlines that were donated by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Beamline commissioning has gone smoothly, and the 11.3.1 endstation is now in the process of being relocated to 12.2.1.
The switch from 11.3.1 to 12.2.1 has been performed with minimal downtime to users. Beamline 11.3.1 closed to users in December 2017, and Beamline 12.2.1 is due to take its first user on February 1, 2018.
The Beamline 12.2.1 project team included Simon Morton (beamline scientist for the design and build phase), Simon Teat (11.3.1 beamline scientist, now moving to 12.2.1), Pat McKean (original design engineer), Adrian Spucces (design engineer), Will Thur (design engineer for the endstation hutch), and Howard Padmore (ALS division deputy for experimental systems). In addition to Simon Teat, Project Scientist Laura McCormick will staff the beamline. Support for beamline construction came from the ALS and Berkeley Lab Chemical Sciences Division Senior Staff Scientist David Shuh’s group.