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The METALJET X-ray source with HELIOS optics

Working principle of the METALJET X-ray source

The METALJET X-ray source in a D8 VENTURE


A diffractometer with the METALJET source from Excillum and Incoatecs latest Synchrotron type multilayer optics was developed in close collaboration of these two companies with the system provider Bruker AXS. The system delivers the brightest and most intense X-ray beam of any home lab X-ray source to meet the ever increasing demands of modern X-ray diffraction.

Like conventional rotating anode generators and microfocus sources, the METALJET uses the impact of electrons onto a metal target to generate X-rays. However, the solid anode of conventional generators is replaced by a high-speed jet of a liquid metal. The metal target is typically a Ga and In containing alloy. As the target is already molten, it can accept a much higher power load. The result is an X-ray beam that is much brighter than what is currently achievable with a home source using a solid metal target.

To preserve the extreme brightness required technical innovation in the design of the X-ray optics, since a smaller source requires synchrotron-class optics with greater precision in the d-spacing of the multilayers.

The HELIOS optics for METALJET transmits the X-rays to the crystal in a uniformly diameter, greatly exceeding the intensity of traditional X-ray sources.

Montel optics

2D beam shaping


Transporting the extreme brightness of the source to the sample requires an optics of highest quality. More than a decade of experience in the field of synchrotron mirrors enabled us to develop a synchrotron-class optics for a home-lab instrument. State-of-the-art graded multilayer deposition techniques make the HELIOS optics for the METALJET our best X-ray mirror ever, delivering the highest intensity of any source-optics combination to your sample.

Using the latest HELIOS Ga multilayer optics for Ga-Kα radiation either for focused or for parallel beam applications, the METALJET source delivers an unprecedented flux density giving up to 3-times more intensity than conventional mircofocus rotating anodes. Thus, the METALJET delivers the brightest X-ray beam of all available home lab X-ray sources, at only 200 W.

Optics Beam shaping Flux
HELIOS MX Ga focused beam
for SC-XRD
> 3.5 x 1011 0.07 7.5
HELIOS Ga parallel beam for
standard resolution
> 0.8 x 109 0.50 1.0
HELIOS HR Ga parallel beam for
high resolution
1.0 x 109 2.00 < 0.5

Summary of parameters of HELIOS Ga optics

Diffraction pattern of a small protein crystal, measured with a Bruker AXS D8 VENTURE equipped with the METALJET X-ray source

Protein Crystallography

The METALJET X-ray source was developed in collaboration with Excillum and Bruker AXS to become the brightest and most intensive microfocus X-ray source available today outside of synchrotron beamlines. This revolutionary new liquid metal source technology is designed to meet the ever-increasing demands of modern structural biology, and particularly of protein crystallography and of small angle X-ray scattering. Together with its low cost of ownership and its ease-of-use, the METALJET is the X-ray source of choice for high-end research laboratories.

The METALJET X-ray source for protein crystallography uses focusing HELIOS MX Ga optics that contain synchrotron-class quality multilayer mirrors delivering the smallest and most intensive X-ray beam of any home-lab X-ray source with up to 3 times the intensity of modern microfocus rotating anodes. The metal target is a molten Ga rich alloy, giving a wavelength of 1.34 Å which is very close to the wavelength of Cu anodes (1.54 Å). Therefore, the METALJET is well suited for most challenging applications, such as fast screening of large and weakly diffracting protein complexes or structure determination by S-SAD phasing.

Calculated precession pattern of the 0kl layer and deformation densitiy for Cytidine

Small Molecule Crystallography

The METALJET X-ray source for small molecule crystallography uses either focusing HELIOS MX Ga or focusing HELIOS In optics that contain synchrotron-class quality multilayer mirrors delivering the smallest and most intensive X-ray beam of any home lab X-ray source.

Due to the shorter wavelength of the Ga-Kα radiation compared to Cu-Kα radiation, the highest resolution achievable with the METALJET X-ray source is typically about 0.70 Å, compared to about 0.80 Å for Cu-Kα. Hence, about 50% more unique reflections can be recorded. These additional reflections significantly improve the quality of the structure model.

The resolution and the number of accessible unique reflections are even further improved by using the In-Kα line of an Indium containing alloy. With a wavelength of 0.51 Å, the highest achievable resolution of the liquid Indium METALJET is below 0.30 Å, giving a more than 2-fold gain in unique reflections compared to setups that use Mo-Kα radiation. This sub-atomic resolution can only be accomblished outside synchrotron beamlines with the METALJET X-ray source.

SAXS scattering plot of a very thin fiber from a rat tail tendon, measured with a Bruker AXS NANOSTAR equipped with a microfocus rotating anode (2.5 kW at 50 kV, left) and with the METALJET X-ray source (200 W at 70 kV, right)

Small Angle Scattering

The unprecedented brightness of the METALJET X-ray source now enables researchers to perform demanding experiments in their home-lab that previously could only be accomplished at a synchrotron. For high-resolution small angle scattering experiments, we have developed a superb multilayer optics that delivers 3 times more flux than modern microfocus rotating anodes in a very parallel beam with a divergence of below 0.5 mrad. Even more, the intensity of such a small angle scattering setup can be further increased by a factor of about 2.5 when using our scatter-free SCATEX pinholes.

The METALJET enables structural biologists, as well as material scientists to collect data on the most challenging samples, improving their home-lab productivity more than ever before.