Sector 2 News

Sept 30, 2020

We got first light on Gemini! Undulator gap has been closed to 7 mm so far, and all the vacuum is holding up. Commissioning will continue with a complete radiation check at each step when closing the gap. After that, we will calibrate the monochromator, and work on optimizing the flux, which may entail realigning some of the optical components on the floor with the help of the Survey and Alignment group. After that, the alignment of the endstation begins. The overall goal is to get the first diffraction dataset by the end of the year before the ALS goes down for its 3-month shutdown.

X-ray beam on one of the beamline diagnostics.

March 29, 2020

Berkeley Lab shut down the day before we were to start commissioning Gemini. We understand the need for shelter-in-place due to COVID-19, but are hugely disappointed by the timing. Hope everyone stays safe and healthy in these uncertain times. More to come when we are up and running again and can reschedule the commissioning shift.

Feb 12, 2020

The Gemini BRR (Beamline Readiness Review) was held today and it went well. This is the final review of a beamline before it is allowed to take light. There was one outstanding item, which was that the EPS system testing is not yet considered final. The EPS group is working hard on this final item, and hope to have it completed within a few weeks.

Jan 31, 2020

We have been testing the Gemini robot with LN in the dewar to see how many continuous mounts can be made without a warmup of the gripper. Twenty pucks and counting as of this video.

Dec 23, 2019

Apologies for the lack of posting to the Sector 2 blog recently. We thought we would have our final review in July, but several issues were found, and these had to be resolved before the final review. It seems that some rules for building beamlines have changed since Gemini construction began, or at least, rules are now being interpreted in a different way. The issues were: 1) inadequate thickness of radiation shielding in several places along the beamline, 2) the final hutch shutter was the wrong type, and 3) the hard-stops on the undulator had to be moved. We have to give credit to the engineering group who did a great job in fixing all these issues quickly, with new shielding designed, fabricated, and installed faster than ever before. Now, we are finally (again) ready for the final review, which has been set for Feb 12. Below is a picture of the leda, where the photons start (top) and the new hutch shutter (bottom), where the photons stop.



May 31, 2019

Monroe put together the “corner cube” endstation – several pieces of precision and very heavy steel!


May 1, 2019

Here is a video of the double-gripper. This was during the first round of alignment checks, so the robot is moving very slowly, and you can clearly see how the robot exchanges one pin for another on the goniometer without a second trip to the dewar.


May 1, 2019

The robot is installed! This is a robot from NatX-Ray, and the experts from that company are here onsite for 3 weeks to commission the robot in the hutch. In the middle picture below are Quentin and Melodie, our fearless robot installers. In the picture on the right is Troy, our fearless LN expert turning on the LN to the Gemini hutch for the first time.



April 29, 2019

Here is one of the fluorescent diagnostic screens on the bench in the Survey and Alignment group for fiducialization. The assembly consists of a fluorescent screen on a motor so that the screen can be driven in and out of the beam. Close-up shows the screen itself with the crosshairs. We are surveying these in to within ~50 microns of where the beam will theoretically be once we have light.


April 3, 2019

Viewing camera and goniometer installed! Though we are holding out for a fancier goniometer in the future, pending funding, this will get us through commissioning. The automounter has also passed its Factory Acceptance Tests and is due to be shipped the last week of April. And the basic beamline software has been installed. Here are images of the medium and high mag images of a pin on the goniometer, as seen through the software. The scale is 100 microns.

Jan 22, 2019

A short (1.5 min) video of the undulator install:



Jan 17, 2019

The through-pipe (ring to beamline) is in, and the first of the lead has been installed.

Jan 8, 2019

LEDA the Undulator is in! It was quite an exciting day at the ALS as LEDA was hoisted high in the air and made a giant circuit of the ALS ring before being lowered into sector 2. We took lots of video and will post those soon. Below is a “before” and “after” inside the ring with the roof block removed:

Jan 7, 2019

The front end aperture stand has been installed. Yes, the Thomas-the-Train face will be taken off before we have X-rays go through it.

Dec 21, 2018

Some slightly disappointing news: the robot has been delayed, and will not arrive until March. But, the Factory Acceptance Test is planned onsite at the Grenoble location Feb 18-20, at least. And NatXRay sent a picture of the robot so far.

Dec 17, 2018

The second (and final) ARC meeting was held today. (ARC = Accelerator Review Committee). This review described how all the action items from the first review were addressed. Bottom line: we are still “go” for installation of the undulator in January!

Dec 13, 2018

LEDA has been baked. This is a good thing. Every vessel going into the high vacuum environment of the ALS rings needs to be baked so that it will not degrade the ALS ring vacuum. Before baking, the undulator vessel was in the 10-7 Torr range. After baking, the vacuum was in the 10-10 Torr range. Success!

Nov 13, 2018

The first of the leaded windows went in today. In the picture is Monroe Thomas, one of the absolutely amazing people working on this project.

Oct 18, 2018

Another major milestone: we held the “ARC” review for the undulator yesterday. This is the installation readiness review which covers all components of the installation plan: vacuum, magnetics testing, control system, and all interlocks. There were several action items resulting from the review (not unexpected) but no show stoppers. So far, January installation is on track…

Oct 11, 2018

Okay, now someone is just having fun….granted the front end aperture tank does look a bit like Thomas the Train.

Oct 9, 2018

The “connective tissue” of the beamline is finally coming together. These are the miscellaneous pieces like beampipes, flanges, valves, and bellows, which make up the sections between the optical components (mirrors and monochromator) and the diagnostics (fluorescence screens and apertures).

Aug 16, 2018

A milestone day for LEDA: the control system to close the undulator gap was installed and tested. We determined:

  • the emergency stops work
  • the gap close/open directions are correct
  • the hardstops are in place
  • the changes as measured via software match the changes as measured via precise micrometers

All is looking good for the visit by Hitachi next week!

July 26, 2018

The concrete plug in the shield wall was removed, measured, and replaced this week. Now the right size and number of lead bricks are being ordered to fill in the space around the beampipe when it passes through the wall (slated for install in January) and the new “belly band” design (the large sheets of lead strapped to the wall right inside the ring) is in process.

July 17, 2018

The stands to hold the diagnostics (4-jaw slits and fluorescence screens) both upstream and downstream of the mono have been installed.

July 10, 2018

The valve VVR1 has been installed. This is an important valve, because it isolates the ring vacuum, which means we can now build out further components downstream without breaking ring vacuum.

June 25, 2018

The 4-jaw slit assemblies from ADC are nearly ready to ship. These are the beam diagnostics which go both upstream and downstream of the monochromator.

May 30, 2018

The hutch sprinklers have been plumbed in. Now let’s hope they are NEVER needed.

May 16, 2018

The selection process for the Gemini robotic sample automoutner was very difficult; we received three outstanding  proposals in response to the LBNL Request for Bid process. In the end, based on previous installations, expertise, and cost, we decided for NatX-Ray, a company based in Grenoble, France. Here is their conceptual layout for the robot which will be able to reach both endstations in the Gemini hutch, as seen from the top.

May 10, 2018

The Gemini monochromator tank EMPTY vs FULL.

May 8, 2018

The Gemini monochromator install is in progress. The tank (and granite base) went out onto the experimental floor today. The install of the optic is planned for next week with the vendor onsite.

April 27, 2018

The Gemini undulator has arrived! It is now in building 15, and we will commence testing of the magnetics in the next month.

The LEDA Undulator

March 27, 2018

The Gemini hutch walls are up. This is the area previously occupied by the Vacuum group at the ALS. The last hutch at the ALS!

Feb 12, 2018

Preparation for installation of hutch walls includes electrical work and removing of remaining vacuum group cabinets and workbenches from the area:

Jan 18, 2018

Gemini hutch walls have arrived. Some assembly required….

Dec 14, 2017

And now the careful surveying of the actual mirrors into their correct positions:

Dec 13, 2017

And now for the horizonal focusing mirror:

Dec 12, 2017

The pair of focusing mirrors is currently being installed on the floor! Before-and-after of the first mirror (the vertical focusing mirror):

Dec 1, 2017

Good news and bad news for Sector 2. First, the bad news: due to a delay in construction of the specialized vacuum valves for the ALS ring, the undulator can’t go in to the ALS ring until July. We had been holding out on the hope that the valves would arrive sooner, but alas, they will not arrive until February. The ALS has scheduled a long shutdown in July to install the undulator. The good news is that all the major beamline components will be installed by then, including the mirrors, which are onsite now and due for installation next week.

August 22, 2017

The very first hardware has gone onto the experimental floor at sector 2: the first electronics racks. Maybe not super exciting, but definitely a milestone.

August 3, 2017

The inspections and reviews for the Gemini beamline have at times seemed a bit excessive, but they might actually be coming to an end. The PS/PSS (front-end shutter system) was inspected by a team of experts at the ALS today, and passed the safety requirements. The final (hopefully) review of all the components will now be at the Beamline Readiness Review (BRR) once these systems go into the frontend.


July 7, 2017

The PS/PSS (front-end shutter system) has been installed on its stand and is ready for installation inside the shield wall.


July 5, 2017

The Oxford mirrors are currently at the metrology lab at the Diamond Light Source for final measurements before shipping to us.

June 12, 2017

The hutch has been ordered. There are a few details that are still being worked out, but the walls should arrive within 4 months, and then putting the hutch together and attaching to the ALS floor will take another few weeks.

April 25, 2017

First pictures from the Axilon monochromator build in their factory in Germany:

April 5, 2017

The optical test results for the Gemini mirrors were excellent.

March 6, 2017

Laying out the electrical wireways and racks for Gemini.


Feb 6, 2017

The PS/PSS (photon stop - personnel safety shutter) has arrived. This is the main shutter inside the ring for Gemini.

The unit was custom built by FMB-Oxford, and had to go through extensive review by safety at the ALS, since it is the first of its kind here, though Oxford has built similar units for the Diamond Light Source.


Jan 30, 2017

Sector 2 inside the ring has been emptied out in preparation for the Gemini undulator. (But don't worry, there will be beampipe there until the undulator arrives.)


Dec 13, 2016

The Beamline Design Review for Gemini was held today and went very smoothly. This was the "big" review that allows us to go forward now to start actually drilling holes in the floor!

Nov 29, 2016

Floor scanning for the Gemini hutch and beamline is complete. The conduit within the concrete is visible as the grid in the image below.


Oct 28, 2016

Floor scanning has started at the site of the future Gemini hutch. These scans determine where the conduit is within the concrete, which is necessary to know when drilling bolt holes for the hutch walls and support stands for the optical components.


Oct 6, 2016

The upcoming ALS shutdown in January 2017 is the ideal time for some of the Gemini frontend work to be completed.

Namely, we have planned:

Install of the first aperture (AP001) inside the shield wall

Install anchors, stand, and first valve (VVR001) inside the shield wall

Install IG1 Top-Off shielding aperture inside the shield wall

Install LCW (house water system) front end manifolds, inside the shield wall

Install 2X LN2 drops (1X for the hutch, 1X for the mono) outside the shield wall

Sept 8, 2016

We are pleased to report that after careful consideration and an extensive bidding process, we have chosen Oxford FMB as our mirror vendor for the Gemini beamline.


July 28, 2016

The preliminary hutch design for Gemini is complete: locations of walls, feedthroughs, and electrical conduit. A lot depended on the height and walkway constraints, and the wiring already in place beneath the ALS floor. We may be ordering the leaded walls by the end of the year.

May 21, 2016

The Request For Bid for the Gemini mirrors has gone out. We will review the bids and expect to make a decision by the end of June.

April 20, 2016

The NIH S10 high-end instrument grant was funded! We will be purchasing a Pilatus3 6M detector for the primary Gemini beamline.


Feb 20, 2016

After much discussion and analysis of the bids, we are pleased to select Axilon AG as the company to build the Gemini monochromator for us. Delivery is planned for June of 2017.


January 29, 2016

Happy to report that the Scientific Advisory Board was impressed with the plans for Gemini. Here is an excerpt from the executive summary of their report:

January 12, 2016

The engineering group built a very small (and cheap) model of the front-end apertures and tank using a 3d printer. This allows everyone to see how exactly the apertures will have to be manuevered into the tank. Very useful!


January 6, 2016

The first front-end piece is in! The stand to hold the bremstrahlung shielding and pumps was put in place during the shutdown. This assembly is shared with our neighbors who are building an IR beamline, and we shared the cost of the stand as well.




September 18, 2015

We are very fortunate to have an outstanding Scientific Advisory Board for the Gemini beamline. The board members are: Bob Fischetti (APS), Dan Harrington (SSRL), Gwyndaf Evans (Diamond Light Source) and Julian Adams (NSLS-II). All of the committee members have extensive experience in building microfocus beamlines, and the discussion during the first SAB meeting, in which we focused on the beamline optical layout and the undulator source, was extremely productive.


August 5, 2015

The Conceptual Design Review is complete! The meeting went well - the optical design and beamline layout were reviewed by the engineering, radiation, controls, and interlocks groups at the ALS and given the "go-ahead". Ordering of optical components will now commence... 



June 30, 2015

I never would have guessed how much could go into the design of a hutch. This week, the engineering team investigated all the repercussions of the planned Gemini hutch height, which can be a maximum of 11 feet high, given the space constraints. The hutch height influences the earthquake stability, the number and position of feedthroughs for cabling, the thermal cycling of the hutch, and the type/position of equipment inside the hutch. Of particular concern was the height of the detector gantry. It has to be high enough that the detector can be moved vertically upward high enough to record high resolution data, but not so high that vibrational stability becomes an issue. It is all sorted out now with a detector gantry design that fits into an agreed-upon hutch height of 10.5 feet. 



April 9, 2015

The design of the front-end of Gemini is complete! Engineering ran into a snag last month when they discovered an electrical panel in the front-end that was not documented in any of the ALS drawings. However, they were able to design all the front-end components around the unexpected box, and in fact complete the design. One interesting point is that the final heat-load analysis on the apertures indicated that all the water cooling will have to be "dual pass", which means more complicated drilling of the pieces than in the initial design. The vacuum analysis also indicated that one more ion pump would be needed than in the initial design. But now that these designs are finalized, Engineering will schedule the internal LBNL reviews in the next two months, and then ordering for front-end components will begin this summer. This will leave plenty of time for install in the 2016 shutdown. 



Feb 20, 2015

We just got out of a meeting with the Engineering group, who have been doing a very thorough analysis on heat load on the sector 2 front-end apertures. The analysis covers all the worst case (beam mis-steering) possibilities. This is required for the internal engineering reviews as well as the optical design review, and will also ensure that we can close the undulator gap to its minimal value. Below is page 6 from the 50 page analysis document!



Feb 17, 2015

This picture may not mean much to anyone outside the ALS controls group, but it shows the "rotated kicker": an element in the ALS ring in sector 2 that had to be modified to make way for the Gemini undulator. The test of this new device was successful, showing that changes to the current sector 2 elements will not adversely affect operations. Ie, all the other beamlines at the ALS will be just fine! This was an important milestone for the ALS in the Gemini project. 


Dec 3, 2014

We (Corie Ralston, Simon Morton, and Peter Zwart) were very pleased to see how organized the LBNL Engineering group is with project management, now that they have swung into full gear. They are using Windchill for the sector 2 project management, which organizes everything in the project, from budget to schedule. All the technical information has now been migrated over to Windchill, including all the quotes for endstation components and beamline optics, as well as the notes from the lengthy technical discussions with the various undulator vendors.



January 9, 2015

The engineering group presented the latest power load calculation from the undulator insertion device. Nine thousand Watts per square milliradian - wow!!



November 14, 2014

Now that the decision has been made to put the undulator in the center of the sector 2 straight, the beamline layout can be completed. Of note: there is no front-end mirror, which greatly simplifies the heat-load issues. 



Funding Has Arrived

As of September 2014, we now have the starting funds to build out the sector 2 at the ALS!

Funded primarily by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, this macromolecular crystallography beamline facility will be a state-of-the-art, high performance and high-throughput set of beamliness designed to enhance and increase productivity of the crystallography experiment for scientists around the world. Everyone at the BCSB is very excited by this news, and we will be sharing specs and news here as the project progresses.