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Nanoprobe Satellite Building

Nanoprobe beamline (NANO) UNDER CONSTRUCTION

The Nanoprobe beamline will focus hard X-rays at 60-300 nm length-scales, facilitating a broad range of X-ray investigations at the Australian Synchrotron.  Multiple complementary contrast methods can be applied - often simultaneously - with the analytical volume defined by the volume of specimen illuminated by the focussed beam.  By scanning the specimen trough the focus the Nanoprobe will build 'maps' of a specimen’s properties including structure and composition, with resolution equal to the size of the focussed spot.

Beamline Updates
Major contracts awarded & progress summary
Nanoprobe: work packages, contractor and progress summary. May 2023.
Work PackageContractorStatus

Insertion Device - CPMU

(x-ray source)

Proterial, Singapore

Hitachi Metals, Japan

In progress

Front end

(pipe to deliver x-rays to the experimental hall)

FMB, Berlin

Shipping; en route.

Completion anticipated 2023

Hutches A & B

(radiation enclosures to host beamline optics)

Caratelli, France - design and manufacture

Lycopodium & Skilcon, Australia- installation

Installation underway.

Completion anticipated 2023

Photon Delivery System (PDS)

(the beamline optics)

Axilon, Germany

PDR completed

Installation anticipated 2024

Nanoprobe Satellite Building (NSB)

CBD, Australia - design

arete, Australia - construct

Design complete

Construction in progress, completion anticipated 2024

Kirkpatrick-Baez (KB) mirrors

(endstation focussing optics)

Cinel Strumenti, Italy

In progress

Completion anticipated 2024


Hutch A & B installation
NANO Hutch A under construction
Nanoprobe Satellite Building (NSB) design

Design of the NSB was undertaken by CBD - Construction and Building Design Pty Ltd.

Specific attention was paid to:

  • building drift relative to the Main Experimental Hall
  • Endstation vibration susceptibility and isolation
  • Endstation thermal stabilisation
  • Multi-functional user laboratory spaces
  • Sample and User pathways
  • Passive stabilisation

The floor plan is provided below.

NSB floorplan
Nanoprobe Satellite Building (NSB) construction

We are pleased to announce that arete Australia have been awarded the contract to construct the NSB!

Below are some moments in the construction to date, with most recent on top.  (If you want to view in chronological order, scroll to the bottom!)

Groundbreaking developments
7 March, 2023.  Breaking ground for the Nanoprobe Satellite Building.
From L to R: Michael James (acting Director), Andrew Peele (Group Executive), Martin de Jonge (Lead Scientist, Nanoprobe), Cameron Kewish (Senior Scientist, Nanoprobe), and Michela Semeraro (Lead Engineer, Nanoprobe).


Photon Delivery System (PDS) delivery

We are pleased to announce that Axilon have been awarded the contract to construct the Nanoprobe PDS!

PDR has been reached, with all major PDS components being agreed.

Below is a table indicating major components and their locations

Nanoprobe PDS: location of major components.
ComponentAcronymlocation along

beamline [mm]
Fixed MaskFM113,554
White Beam SlitsWBS14,706
VFM opticsVFM15,852
HFM opticsHFM16,552
Beam Imager 1BI117,433
Fixed Mask 2FM218,158
Filter wheelFLT18,910
Double Multilayer MonochromatorDMM19,868
(Future Double Crystal Monochromator - deferred)(DCM)


beam Imager 2BI221,946
Fixed Mask 3FM222,321
Beam Transport - Hutch A - Hutch B  
Quad Diode BPMQBPM131,968
Diamond QBPMQBPM232,230
Secondary Source ApertureSSA32,630
Beam ImagerBI333,190
Fast valve 34,319




Capability Summary and Techniques

Hard X-rays (5 keV – 20 keV) give the Nanoprobe unique analytical capabilities, revealing the elemental, chemical and structural information within specimens from a diverse range of scientific fields.

The size of the X-ray focus determines the spatial resolution of the Nanoprobe instrument; the intensity of the X-ray beam determines its sensitivity - the Nanoprobe targets 60-300 nm resolution and 1e10-1e13 ph/s intensity.  The Nanoprobe beamline has been designed to enable resolution and sensitivity to be optimised for each investigation, enabling (eg) improved elemental sensitivity at the cost of spatial resolution.

The Nanoprobe instrument will be optimised for elemental mapping using x-ray fluorescence.  In combination with scanning.

nanoprobe endstation

Elemental mapping using the Nanoprobe instrument.

An X-ray beam is focussed onto a specimen using a KB mirror pair.  In this figure, the focussed beam passes through a Maia detector, positioned to capture the maximum amount of secondary photons emitted by the specimen. 

The specimen is scanned through the beam, and at each position the Maia energy dispersive detector will be used to determine the energy of characteristic fluorescence X-rays emitted by the specimen, as well as Rayleigh and Compton scattered X-rays.

In addition to elemental mapping, the Nanoprobe instrument will enable high-resolution visualisation of a specimen’s phase and absorption using a technique known as ptychography or Scanning X-ray Diffraction Microscopy, SXDM.  In this approach, an on-axis photon-counting camera (not shown above) records the X-ray intensity distribution 7 m downstream of the specimen as it is scanned through the beam.  From this raw data, ptychography can build up structural images of the specimen at a resolution smaller than the focussed beam, anticipated down to around 15 nm.  When high resolution is not required, or when the measurement conditions required for ptychography cannot be provided, differential phase contrast methods will be used to obtain at-resolution maps of phase and absorption.

In the first instance, radiation-induced specimen damage will not be mitigated.  Pathways for upgrading the system to support cryogenics are encapsulated in the instrument design.  A precision rotation stage will enable acquisition of rotation series for tomographic data acquisition compatible with most measurement modes.

Samples: type, preparation and presentation

  • Scan range of 3 mm * 3 mm * 3 mm with sub-10-nm addressing precision.
  • Typical specimen thickness will be below 10 µm.  Thicker specimens may lose lateral imaging resolution due to projection overlay.
  • There will be a PC-2 laboratory in the NSB.  The PC-2 certification will not extend to the Nanoprobe endstation.
  • Off-line sample pre-alignment and characterisation will be available.

The Nanoprobe beamline will enable key techniques including:

  • Elemental mapping for most elements heavier than silicon (Si),
  • Scanning Transmission and Differential Phase Contrast,
  • Ptychography / SXDM for phase and absorption contrast @ ~10-nm resolution,
  • Tomography for all contrast modes
  • DEFERRED for upgrade: X-ray Absorption Near Edge Spectroscopy (XANES) will NOT be available until the beamline PDS is upgraded.  This upgrade requires installation of a DCM, which  will provide chemical state analysis and mapping of elements ranging from Cr to Sr (K series), Ba to Bi (L series),

The Nanoprobe beamline will provide a launching pad for the development of further techniques including:

  • Scanning Nano-Small- and Wide Angle X-ray Scattering (Nano-SAXS/WAXS)
  • Scanning Nano-diffraction. 

Scientific Applications

The Nanoprobe beamline will be able to address questions across a wide variety of scientific disciplines, including:

Human health and biology

First-row transition metals including manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn) play key roles in biological systems, and are a co-factor in an estimated 30% of proteins.  The Nanoprobe will provide a unique ability to map the distribution of these elements with high sensitivity and organelle-level resolution within biological systems such as cells and tissues to deliver insights into a range of questions in inorganic biochemistry with applications in eg mechanisms, pathology, and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and other diseases of aging.

Food, agriculture, and plant biology

Micronutrients such as iron (Fe), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn) and selenium (Se) are essential to human nutrition. Simultaneously, toxic elements such as arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) can be taken up by plants and so enter the food chain.  Mapping the distributions of these elements within soils, fertilisers, root systems, stems and leaves will deliver insights into uptake, storage and biological fate of these metals and so enable improvements to the food chain with the potential to impact global food security.

Advanced materials and manufacturing

Nanomaterials technology is a key driver for manufacturing industry, and the Nanoprobe will provide a cutting-edge technique known as ptychography to provide high sensitivity imaging of larger nanoparticles at the 15 nm length scale.  In addition, the ~60 nm X-ray probe will enable studies employing fluorescence, diffraction and scattering from small volumes within a specimen.  The ability to employ both methods on a specimen within the one instrument will enable insights into nanostructure and function.

Environmental studies

Nanoscale distributions of environmental toxins are elucidated using the Nanoprobe.  Examples include

  • Distribution and speciation of toxic metals such as lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), and arsenic (As) in mine tailings and groundwater
  • Uptake pathways afforded by plants
  • Remediation pathways afforded by both plants and mineralogy
Earth Science and minerals formation

Mineralogy occurs across length-scales ranging from the nanometre to the kilometre.  Providing insight bridging from the nanoscale to the microscale, the Nanoprobe will complement the XFM beamline (itself bridging the microscale to the decimetre scale) to provide a combination of detail and context that illuminates mineralogy and thus geological processes.  Strategies for mining and exploration will be improved through studies of gold (Au), platinum (Pt), and uranium (U) bearing ore deposits, with the ability to probe chemical speciation providing key insights difficult if not impossible to obtain using other methods.

Cultural Heritage, Archaeology, and Arts

Understanding of the distribution and speciation of elements within art and artefacts can provide essential clues into origin, provenance, history, and genesis.  Examples include:

  • Chemical fingerprinting of ochres provides insights into the early Australian trading routes and so the extent of relations between aboriginal tribes.
  • Chemical speciation studies of pigments in older paintings can greatly assist understanding of painting degradation and remediation

The applications of the Nanoprobe are very broad – this reflects the both the importance of metals to life and technology and the fact that you can put just about anything under a microscope!  The unique capabilities of the Nanoprobe – exquisite elemental sensitivity, high resolution, high penetration – make it a key instrument for addressing nanoscale structure – function relations across a broad range of science.  Taken from operating international facilities, specific examples of the kinds of measurements that we aim to deliver are listed below.

Elemental mapping at high resolution
Elemental mapping nanoprobe beamline

Elemental distributions in frozen-hydrated Chlamydomonoas (green algae) measured using the Advanced Photon Source BioNanoprobe, alongside complementary ptychographic imaging.

From Deng et al, Scientific Reports (2017).


Ptychography for advanced nano-manufacturing and materials science: integrated circuits

Ptychography is a computationally-intensive method that provides access to high-resolution imaging, and will be able to resolve features down towards 15 nm with the Nanoprobe beamline.

Nanoprobe science applications circuits

Ptychography of an integrated circuit fabricated with 16 nm technology. The apparent ‘hatching’ is due to these 16-nm vias and interconnects within the chip.  Brighter colours indicate higher projected electron density. 

Deng et al; Review of Scientific Instruments,90, 083701 (2019)

Elemental Mapping and Tomography
elemental mapping and tomography

Elemental tomography of a diatom at 400-nm resolution reveals distribution of elements at micro-molar concentrations.  We anticipate that such a measurement could be completed in one shift (8 hours) using the Nanoprobe.  From de Jonge et al, PNAS (2010). 


Mapping chemical co-ordination using XANES spectroscopy and imaging.

X-ray microprobes and nanoprobes are commonly used to perform local tests of chemical speciation (oxidation state), but the Nanoprobe will leverage world-leading expertise at the XFM beamline to deliver XANES imaging at the Nanoscale.

mapping chemical coordination

Imaging of chromium (Cr) speciation within a paint sample from van Gogh, showing alteration of Cr chemistry due to degradation. Data from the ESRF, ID21. From Monico et al, JAAS (2014). 

Technical Information and Specifications

Location layout nanoprobe

The Nanoprobe beamline is 100 m long and will be situated alongside the IMBL, as indicated in accompanying aerial overlay. 

The Nanoprobe design allows the focussed intensity to be traded against focal spot size for application to a wide variety of studies.  At the highest resolution, roughly 108 ph/s will be focussed into 60 nm; for measurements requiring higher intensity, roughly 1010 ph/s will be focussed into 100 nm; highest sensitivity will focus roughly 1011 ph/s into 300 nm.

Several design features maintain the focussed intensity on the Nanoprobe beamline, including:

  • Use of a Double Multilayer Monochromator (DMM) to transport the entirety of the undulator harmonic to the endstation at around 1% bandpass.
  • Horizontal and vertical focussing to a Secondary Source Aperture (SSA) enables flux tunability with high dynamic range.  This configuration also improves vibration resilience of the beamline transport.
  • Kirkpatrick-Baez focussing optics with high focussing efficiency (>80%) and achromaticity (wavelength independence of the focal length) will be used in the endstation.

Technical Specifications

View Nanoprobe Technical Specifications
Nanoprobe technology selections and anticipated performance.



  • Length - 3 m
  • Period - 18 mm
  • Kmax ~ 1.8



  • Broad-band for mapping sensitivity
  •  DE/E ~ 1x10-2

Endstation focussing Optics

KB mirrors

  • Diffraction-limited resolution - 60 nm @ 10 keV
  • N.A. ~ 1 mrad
  • Nominal incidence angle - 3 mrad
  • 100% reflectivity cut-off energy: 17 keV
  • 50% reflectivity cut-off energy: 22 keV

Scanning stages


  • Scanning axes: xyz, 3*3*3 mm range, sub-10-nm precision
  • Positioning axis: θ, 360 deg range.
  • Positioning axis: z, 50 mm range, ~100 nm precision
  • Minimum dwell ~ 1 ms / pixel transit

Energy Dispersive Detectors

Silicon drift diode (SDD)

  • >1 Mcps overall count rate
  • < 200 eV energy resolution (Mn Kα) at 1 Mcps rate
  • Orthogonal and backscatter geometry

On-axis / Transmission camera

Eiger X 4M

  • Photon counting detector
  • 1 kHz frame rate
  • 75 µm pixels
  • In-vacuum camera
  • Camera length remotely adjustable from 1 – 7 m

Beamline status & schedule

View Beamline status


Component / Stage

2018 August

NANO - Preliminary design commences

2020 April

NANO - Investment Case (IC) endorsed

2020 JuneNANO - Conceptual Design Report

2020 July

NANO - NSB conceptual design commences

2021NANO - Final Design Report
2021 MayNSB design contract awarded (CBD)
2022 JanuaryHutches contract awarded (Caratelli)

2022 April

PDS contract awarded (Axilon)

2022 June

CPMU contract awarded (Hitachi)

2022 December

NSB construction contract awarded (arete)

2023 JanuaryKB mirror contract awarded to (Cinel)

2023 March

PDS @ PDR (Axilon)


PDS Delivery and Installation


Cold commissioning

(2024 September)

First Light

(*2025 May)

First User Experiments;

Beamline fully commissioned over the next 12 months

Nanoprobe Schedule.  Estimated overall COVID-19 delay: 9-months

Beamline layout

nanoprobe detailed design layout



Beamline Advisory Panel

  • Prof. Hugh Harris [Chair] – University of Adelaide
  • Prof. Brian Abbey – La Trobe University
  • Dr Louise Fisher - CSIRO
  • Prof David Paganin – Monash University
  • Dr Fatima Eftekhari [Retired] - Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication
  • Assoc Prof Mark Hackett – Curtin University
  • Dr Alessandra Gianoncelli [International Advisor] - Sincrotrone Elettra, Italy
  • Prof Stefan Vogt [International Design Advisor] - Argonne National Laboratory, USA


[email protected]