Important information for SLS and SwissFEL users

We would like to update you on the status of user operation at our photon facilities:

COVID-19 call open until September:
We received a number of proposals for macromolecular crystallography, imaging and spectroscopy. Several measurements took place already and a first paper has been published following a true rapid access process: Within one month from the submission of the beamtime proposal to the submission of the paper. Thank you for submitting such well-prepared proposals and projects.
We would like to remind you, that the PRIORITY COVID-19 call for proposals is open until September. If your research has the potential to contribute effectively to the understanding of the virus and/or to improve the clinical or public health response and patient care, then please do not hesitate contacting us and submitting a proposal for rapid access to SLS or SwissFEL via the DUO portal.

SLS back to 24/7 with external users on site:
Since mid March, the SLS has been in 24/5 operation without external users on site. Experiments have been performed using remote access or mail-in of samples that have been measured by SLS staff. Everything else had to be postponed to the 2nd semester of this year. This reduced the available beamtime and increased the over subscription for the calls for proposals in spring. For the calls in autumn, we hope to be back to normal over subscription values, thereby providing many of you with the opportunity to realize your excellent research projects.
Following the current, brief shutdown, the SLS returned to normal 24/7 user operation with external users on site for non-MX beamlines from June 5th onwards. For the MX beamlines, user operation will continue with 100% remote access. The guest-house will be open for external users from then on as well. Please see below for travel and safety considerations.

SwissFEL starting with local users in June and with international users in September:
SwissFEL is currently in a ramp-up phase. On June 15, experiments start proposed by local users. Following the summer shutdown, user operation with international users will resume beginning of September.

Travel and safety considerations for your beamtime:
For the SLS, we have a safety concept in place that builds on the established principles of distance keeping and hand washing. We are confident that even complex experiments can be realized with some additional effort for planning the beamtime campaign. For SwissFEL with typically larger teams on site, considerable adaptions of the thus far typical working style are required and feasible as well.
However, we cannot predict the regulations in place at the borders and in your country - the latter referring for example the closing of university labs etc. As the Swiss borders are closed currently for business travel, we start with users with Swiss affiliation and continue of course remote operation and mail-in. On June 15th, the borders to Germany, France, and Austria will open for all travel and we look forward to welcoming users from these countries at the SLS from then on. We hope that most borders at least in Europe will open in July, thus enabling 'almost full' user operation after the summer shutdown of the SLS, i.e. from the 24th of August onwards.

Remote access:
Please consider using remote access for your experiments, or local-remote mixed teams. It's a bit like video conferences: Until recently, not many used them and it turned out now that they can work well, if one knows each other and is well prepared. We had a number of successful remote and local remote experiments at beamlines with thus far exclusively on site access and even for in-situ and in operando the online data analysis part can be done via remote access, thus easing keeping 2m distance at the beamlines. Please have a look at the Remote Operation Instructions Manual of the SLS MX beam lines. 

Current travel information of the Federal Office of Public Health:
The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health maintains a website with actual information about the travel restrictions and related regulations to and within Switzerland.

We have seen great team efforts for maintaining the user operation without you being physically on site and we congratulate you and the beamline teams on this collaborative success in times of social distancing.
We are looking forward to getting back to full performance of your research performed at our facilities.

Stefan Mueller, Frithjof Nolting and Oliver Bunk on behalf of the SLS and SwissFEL teams