The last two weeks, I have been visiting Diamond and ESRF, to talk to Very Interesting People over there. The end result: a collaboration to build version 3 of the Ultra-SAXS instrument. Version 3 will be like version 2 and 1 in that it will use self-built high-precision rotations, have a small footprint, and not be too expensive to build.
This version, however, should also be made appropriate for synchrotron use, and so have a few more motorized stages than the previous models. The addition of motorized stages (and the added complexity associated therewith) reduces the need to continuously go in- and out of the hutch, and should speed up alignment. The one trick I have to constantly remind myself of is to not go overboard with the motorisations: it is very easy to select a slightly too large motor stage for a particular purpose “just in case”, and end up with an enormous system.
Upgrades from the previous version besides the motorization will include:
- Narrower towers leaving more space for sample stages
- A higher precision cross-roller bearing for smoother motion
Easier construction of the high precision rotations, using more commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) componentspneumatics (for added levels of steampunk).
There have been a few concerns about efficiency loss due to polarization: we will use the crystal reflections in the direction perpendicular to the direction of polarization for most synchrotrons. However, the general consensus so far is that the intended (high-ish) energies will render this a non-issue.
My additional hope is that with the support shown for this instrument, it will be easier to get support for my other instrumentation plans as well. And who knows? Maybe you will soon see a “LookingAtNothing”-brand instrument at a synchrotron near you!