The single particles, clusters and biomolecules and serial femtosecond crystallography instrument of the european XFEL: Initial installation

Adrian P. Mancuso, Andrew Aquila, Lewis Batchelor, Richard J. Bean, Johan Bielecki, Gannon Borchers, Katerina Doerner, Klaus Giewekemeyer, Rita Graceffa, Oliver D. Kelsey, Yoonhee Kim, Henry J. Kirkwood, Alexis Legrand, Romain Letrun, Bradley Manning, Luis Lopez Morillo, Marc Messerschmidt, Grant Mills, Steffen Raabe, Nadja ReimersAdam Round, Tokushi Sato, Joachim Schulz, Cedric Signe Takem, Marcin Sikorski, Stephan Stern, Prasad Thute, Patrik Vagovič, Britta Weinhausen, Thomas Tschentscher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


The European X-ray Free-Electron Laser (FEL) became the first operational high-repetition-rate hard X-ray FEL with first lasing in May 2017. Biological structure determination has already benefitted from the unique properties and capabilities of X-ray FELs, predominantly through the development and application of serial crystallography. The possibility of now performing such experiments at data rates more than an order of magnitude greater than previous X-ray FELs enables not only a higher rate of discovery but also new classes of experiments previously not feasible at lower data rates. One example is time-resolved experiments requiring a higher number of time steps for interpretation, or structure determination from samples with low hit rates in conventional X-ray FEL serial crystallography. Following first lasing at the European XFEL, initial commissioning and operation occurred at two scientific instruments, one of which is the Single Particles, Clusters and Biomolecules and Serial Femtosecond Crystallography (SPB/SFX) instrument. This instrument provides a photon energy range, focal spot sizes and diagnostic tools necessary for structure determination of biological specimens. The instrumentation explicitly addresses serial crystallography and the developing single particle imaging method as well as other forward-scattering and diffraction techniques. This paper describes the major science cases of SPB/SFX and its initial instrumentation – in particular its optical systems, available sample delivery methods, 2D detectors, supporting optical laser systems and key diagnostic components. The present capabilities of the instrument will be reviewed and a brief outlook of its future capabilities is also described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)660-676
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of synchrotron radiation
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Instrumentation
  • Serial crystallography
  • XFEL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Instrumentation


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