Technical developments provide the backbone and basis for every aspect of the ESRF’s scientific activity. They enable and facilitate advancements in science, and play a central role within the ESRF-EBS project. 2015 saw an increasing number of upgraded and refurbished beamlines becoming fully operational, and witnessed an accelerated migration of technical infrastructure and instrumentation development resources from the experimental facilities to the accelerator and source. While the ESRF User Community will profit from the largely improved performance of the new stations in the years up to the shutdown, the design and procurement of the new machine is in full swing, and R&D work has started to tackle the various challenges related to the increased brilliance of the X-ray source.

As in past years, the 2015 highlight contributions provide a representative slice through the diverse R&D activities, and reveal at the same time some trends. The first four contributions deal with instrumentation developments either originating from Upgrade Phase I (sub-30 nm focusing at ID16A) or in anticipation of future requirements such as the need for high-quality diamonds as monochromators, the characterisation of the X-ray wave front, or the prototype of an X-ray microscope for material science applications. The following three contributions deal with the development of algorithms and automation procedures, emphasising the increasing complexity of data analysis and the requirement for effective data collection and digestion. Finally, the last contribution on the prototype girder is representative of the numerous developments for the new storage ring and provides the natural link to the Accelerator and X-ray Source chapter.

In addition to the results presented in the Highlights articles, 2015 has witnessed other important accomplishments in different technological areas. In the context of detector and electronics development, various new photon counting pixel detectors were successfully built and tested, including CdTe Maxipix modules (within the FP7 CALIPSO project) and a prototype of a Smartpix pixel detector for high-frame rate applications above 1 kHz. The release of new IcePAP firmware offered advanced features such as linked axes and parametric trajectories, and a new position encoder processing Unit (PEPU) was developed as part of the DAnCE platform.

To enable top-up operation in user mode from 2016 onwards, important modifications of the building infrastructure and electricity supply were implemented and front-end boards for the ramping injector power supplies (RIPS) and the associated sequencer control have been delivered and validated.

For the accelerator complex, the HDB++ Cassandra cluster now acquires storage ring data in parallel with the former archive database, and for the booster upgrade, new SY BPM software based on Libera spark is now operational.

The migration of the NAS systems to the much faster GPFS disk storage systems has continued and provides a boost in performance for I/O intensive experiments.

Finally, the in-house production of aluminium compact refractive lenses has borne first fruit and a set of 2D paraboloidal lenses was delivered to the new powder diffraction beamline ID22.

The instrumentation beamline, BM05, continued to be a strategic tool for developments such as the characterisation of detectors, scintillators, and X-ray optical components. With the delivery of a new diffractometer for the new IRT NanoElec station for X-ray diffraction, reflectivity, and topography, its commissioning is almost completed, and its operation can start in spring 2016. This station opens up new perspectives for BM05 to provide new services for proprietary research, especially for customers from the semiconductor industry.

Besides the development and implementation of instrumentation for the experimental facilities and the accelerator and source, and joint efforts with other facilities such as the IcePAP, TANGO, LImA, and mxCuBE collaborations, the ESRF has provided technology and know-how in the delivery of a FReloN camera based on the EDXAS detector to the Diamond Light Source and the engineering design of the Materials Imaging and Dynamics station for the European XFEL.

M. Krisch and R. Dimper