The four-year SAXIER project will take advantage of these new synchrotron sources by developing new SAXS technology and promoting the wider use of the technique. Developments will include the use of SAXS at very short timescales (down to microseconds), at resolutions ranging from nanometres to micrometres, with sample sizes measured in nanometres, and in combination with other analytical techniques.
Within SAXIER, it is planned to cover all major components of a modern SAXS beamline. Novel optical systems producing an X-ray beam just 100 nm wide will be employed. The sample stage will incorporate a "nanomanipulator" that will allow samples several micrometres wide to be moved across the beam, thus combining high precision with the ability to study larger areas. They will also increase the versatility of SAXS by combining it with other analytical techniques.
These include Raman spectroscopy, which characterises chemical species, gel filtration chromatography (GF-HPLC) and infra-red spectroscopy, which can be used to study transient phenomena. Combining SAXS with mass spectrometry (MS) will allow SAXS to be used in the gas phase as well as on liquids and solids. SAXS will be further adapted to cryogenic temperatures, taking their lead from crystallographers and electron microscopists who use low temperatures to slow down chemical reactions and reduce radiation damage to their samples. Further developments will include a microfluidic system with applications in fluid mechanics and surface chemistry, and automated software using modern computational methods to rapidly analyse the huge quantities of data produced by the new techniques. Altogether, the project will create a unified European SAXS infrastructure using the most advanced methods. The results of the project will be implemented in a form of working prototypes installed at the existing high brilliance SAXS beamlines at the synchrotrons ESRF (Grenoble), Elettra (Trieste) but also at the synchrotrons currently under planning or construction: Soleil (France), Diamond (UK), Petra-III (Germany).