EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Therapeutics and Nanomedicines

University of Nottingham

Visit to RAL Diamond Facility January 2020

In January 2020, Oran Magire and Rachael Xerri (CDT students), together with Dr Mischa Zelzer visited the Diamond Synchotoron facility at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Oxfordshire. The following is an account by Oran: 

"On a cold, clear Sunday on the 19th January, Dr Mischa Zelzer, Rachael Xerri, and I met at 2 in the afternoon at the Boots building to load a car with a hotplate plus 500 formulation samples, and drive down to Oxfordshire. Rachael had applied for beamtime with Mischa in March 2019 and successfully secured a 24 hour beam time slot to carry out Small Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) measurements on the B21 High-Throughput instrument at the Diamond Synchotoron facility in the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (SFTC’s) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL). After a stay in the onsite hotel we arose early to begin the timeslot at 9am. Although the process was semi-automated, the beam needed to be locked off, samples reloaded, and programming updated every 3.5 hours.

Loading samples was a continuous process so that each plate could be loaded with fresh samples, with early success meaning we had the option to make and run more samples, Mischa took up this task with Rachael and was still pipetting well past midnight!  I had a very early morning and had to take on the task of taking of loading the samples at the 3:30am time slot, Rachael however was still there as she had been busy making ore samples. After the samples were loaded we went for a walk around the ring- it was an unsurprisingly long walk but gave us chance for a photo shoot! We then returned to our hotel to refresh and get breakfast before wrapping up beamtime, and before Rachael made an escape for the SCI conference in London later that morning.

All samples were successfully measured, which will provide an excellent insight into how a library of difficult to deliver drugs affect the liquid crystalline architecture of Rachael’s formulations. I am very grateful to both Mischa and Rachael for the opportunity to assist in and learn the principles of scattering experiments. Huge thanks are also due to Dr Annela Seddon, with whose group at the University of Bristol Rachael collaborates, for visiting our experiment and offering valuable support on the day; and to Katsuagi and other beam time scientists at the B21 hatch for their vital assistance."

Oran and Rachael    Sample preparation at 3am
Oran and Rachael                                                                      Sample preparation at 3am

Sample holder 
The sample holder inside the hutch.

Posted on Thursday 21st May 2020

EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training in Advanced Therapeutics and Nanomedicines


The University of Nottingham
School of Pharmacy
Boots Science Building
University of Nottingham,
Nottingham, NG7 2RD
t: +44(0)7809 888378
e: Graham.Harrison@nottingham.ac.uk

University College London
School of Pharmacy
University College London
29-39 Brunswick Square,
London WC1N 1AX.
t: +44 (0) 20 3987 28811
e: s.marks.pharm@ucl.ac.uk