The infrastructure consists of two independent experimental stations (beamlines) that operate in parallel.
The X-ray scattering beamline delivers time-resolved data over seven decades of length scales (1 micron – 0.1 nanometer) so that structural developments in hierarchically structured materials can be studied. The accessible length scales are relevant in a large variety of research areas ranging from polymer structure and polymer processing, via the structure of healthy and treatment of diseased skin, to applied research on the formation of ceramic membranes used for gas and liquid separation. Also very fundamental work on the behaviour of biological fibrous materials under external loads is part of the portfolio.
The X-ray spectroscopy beamline has an important volume of catalysis and environmental research. The catalysis experiments provide unique insights into the local environment of the catalytically active components and can be studied under in operando conditions for which the required infrastructure to provide the appropriate gas flows, temperature and pressure is provided by the beamline. This can be combined with auxiliary techniques which provide structural information over multiple length scales.
Both beamlines are specialised in not only performing the X-ray experiments but also in combining this on-line with additional experimental techniques in order to increase the information content of the experiments and derive synergy between the different sample aspects that are probed by the different experimental probes.
The auxiliary infrastructure is specifically developed with Dutch user demands in mind and therefore provides a unique environment for the Dutch user community.
On a pragmatic note it can be remarked that the cost/publication is only 30-50% compared to publications produced by the beamlines of the central ESRF laboratory and that the average journal impact factor is substantially higher as well.
The central storage ring of the ESRF will be upgraded in the near future and this provided unique options to further enhance the quality of the X-ray beams that are generated as well as even further improving the already available experimental infrastructure. Although the beamlines and X-ray optics are still state of the art, developments in X-ray detector quality have been substantial in recent years. With the upgraded storage ring it will also be possible to reduce the beam sizes considerably which will enable for instance more biologically oriented experiments but also to probe the interior of devices ranging from car exhausts to Li-ion batteries during their operational duty cycle. To fully benefit from this upgrade investments in X-ray detectors have to be made.
By inserting new optics a third experimental station can be constructed which for instance can be used for X-ray imaging and be complementary to for instance cryo- and environmental microscopy. This has the potential of attracting a new user community in addition to the existing one.
An alternative scenario, which will not substantially alter the financial requirements, is that the existing beamlines are transferred to another synchrotron radiation source and in particular Max 4 in Lund Sweden. This is at present the most modern synchrotron radiation source and the directorate of Max 4 has expressed a serious interest in the capabilities and expertise associated with the DUBBLE beamlines.