A beamline guides the synchrotron light (X-rays), which is produced by the circulating electrons, to the experimental stations. Such a beamline consists of several parts:
Experimental station at the protein crystallography beamline
- The Source, which is either an undulator, a wiggler or a bending magnet. Undulators and Wigglers are called Insertion Devices, because they are "inserted" into straight sections of the storage ring. The most popular source in a modern synchrotron light source is the undulator, which is either composed of an array of permanent magnets or an array of electro-magnets.
- The Front End, which contains slits, beam windows and safety components like beam shutter and beam stopper.
- Mirrors, which deflect and focus the X-rays onto the experimental sample. At the same time they can serve as filters, to cut away the unwanted part of the synchrotron light spectrum.
- Conventional lenses cannot be used to focus X-rays, due to a lack of transmission. Instead one uses well polished, high precision mirrors, such as copper plates or crystals (like silicon), which reflect the beam under very shallow angles (<1°). These mirrors or usually coated (with a thin metal layer) and can be dynamically bent to focus the beam.
- The Monochromator, which selects a single wavelength with high resolution. It can either be a crystal (for hard X-rays) or a grating (for soft X-rays).
- The Experimental Station with sample holder and Detector Equipment, which registers the signals caused by the interaction of the X-rays with the sample.
For more technical details about the individual beamlines we refer the reader to the special sections on Beamlines .