During Beamtime


In case of any emergencies, dial 3333 from any PSI phone (or +41 56 310 3333 from mobile devices) to reach the PSI emergency response team.


Your main support and point of contact for all questions and issues during the beamtime is your local contact. To minimize the off-hour workload for your local contact, please plan work that requires assistance, like setup changes, during normal working hours. He or she is available from 07.00 until 23.00 during the week, using the numbers posted at the beamline and under the contact numbers on the website. On the weekend, user support is organized directly with the local contact.

Your local contact coordinates and organizes support from specialists, if required. However, please be aware that most support staff (technicians, infrastructure groups, IT experts, etc.) are not officially on call for beamtimes. Their help needs so to be scheduled during working hours. In case of failures and problems during the experiments, we will do our best to recover as quickly as possible to ensure that you can perform measurements efficiently, but delays can occur if support from specialists is required.

Start of your beamtime

At the beginning of your experiment, your local contact will set up the experiments with you. This may require some setup changes in terms of hardware and software. Depending on the complexity of your experiments, and the state of the beamline at your arrival, this may take a few hours. We do our best to achieve optimal measurement conditions for all users, but quality takes time!

Once the beamline is ready for measurements, your local contact will instruct you step-by-step on how to run experiments at TOMCAT safely and independently. This includes a mandatory safety training and beamline orientation as well as information about:
  • how to open and close the experimental hutch
  • mounting and changing samples
  • configuring and running the scans
  • performing simple setup changes, if necessary
  • reconstructing your data
  • transferring your data onto your own storage device
It is very important that you follow these instructions carefully. Although your local contact is available for problems and questions throughout your beamtime, after a short training phase you are expected to run experiments independently. We recommend that your whole team is present and pays close attention during this instruction session, taking notes if necessary.

Data transfer

Data volumes at TOMCAT are high and the transfer process can be time-consuming. It is highly recommended to initiate the transfer and synchronization of your experimental data onto your storage devices or via network directly to your home institution as soon as the experiments are running and data is coming in. Your local contact will help you to set up the transfer. For more information, please refer to the Data Transfer section.

Working around the clock

Beamtimes can be very intense and exhausting, in particular for complicated ultrafast in-situ and/or multi-days studies.To ensure successful experiments, efficient use of the time, and guarantee the safety of both people and equipment, we ask you to come to the beamline with sufficient staff to be able to work in shifts (and therefore get some sleep and rest). We also strongly recommend to always work at least in pairs. If you nonetheless feel tired or your concentration is lapsing, please make sure to stop the experiment and have a rest to avoid accidents and costly mistakes. While we strive for an efficient use of beamtime at TOMCAT, we are committed to a safe working environment.

Finishing up

Disassembly of your experimental equipment and cleanup is considered part of your scheduled beamtime. Please make sure to plan enough time for it. The beamline is expected to be ready for handover to the next user group at the scheduled end time of your beamtime.

Users are expected to help in keeping TOMCAT clean and well organized. Leave the beamline in a similar state as you have found it or would like to find it.

Additionally, please:
  • Remove all samples and chemicals from the sample fridge and the sample preparation lab
  • Remove all remaining food and drinks from the food fridge in the compute lab
  • Clean up the sample preparation area and return all tools to their corresponding boxes
  • Wipe the work surface in the sample preparation lab with standard alcohol (ethanol 70%)
  • Do not pack and take away any items that belong to TOMCAT (usually labelled, but not always)
  • Return any borrowed items to TOMCAT or the lender
  • Don't forget any of your own items or equipment at TOMCAT
  • Empty trash bins if they are getting full (a larger trash container can be found outside the beamline along the outside wall of SLS)
  • Dispose of PET bottles and cardboard (Pizza) boxes in the corresponding recycling containers (near SLS entrance at SIS beamline X09LA)
If you have samples or materials that need to be disposed of at PSI, carefully instruct your local contact about what needs to be done and provide descriptions and labels for any items left at PSI (e.g.: disposal of chemicals, etc).

It is acceptable to keep external hard drives connected to the corresponding media stations until transfer is complete. Place a note on the computer notifying other people that file transfer is still in progress, and provide a contact address or phone number.

Thank you very much for your cooperation and help in maintaining a comfortable, efficient and safe work environment at TOMCAT!