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European Photon & NeutronScience Campus
ESRFEuropean Synchrotron Radiation Facility
ILL Institut Laue-Langevin
PSB Partnership for Structural Biology
EMBLEuropean Molecular Biology Laboratory
IBSInstitut de Biologie Structurale
ILL, 2015
PSCMPartnership for Soft Condensed Matter
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HERCULES: Training the next generation in imaging for the future

Twenty-four students from 12 different countries have arrived at the ESRF for the 19th HERCULES specialised course which runs from 15-19 May 2017. This course, called HSC19: Quantitative Imaging with X-rays and Neutrons, involves more than 70 participants and starts with lectures on the major techniques and theoretical aspects of image processing. It also includes one day of tutorials and a full day of hands-on practical sessions on 6 different beamlines. (More on the ESRF website)


The 1st PSCM (Partnership for Soft Condensed Matter) review meeting and workshop was held on 27-28 March 2017. The aim of the meeting was to evaluate the implementation of the PSCM initiative during 2012-2016 and to provide recommendations for possible future developments. [More]



Unfoldases are able to recognize, unfold, and address misfolded or dysfunctional proteins towards proteolytic complexes. In a collaboration between ILL and IBS, a novel approach was developed combining time-resolved small angle neutron scattering (TR-SANS) with online-fluorescence spectroscopy.  [more on the ILL website]

On Saturday 8 October, the four EPN campus institutes held a stand at the French Science Festival "Fête de la Science". We welcomed most of the 2800 curious and enthusiastic visitors who came to the Parvis des Sciences that day. The public discovered the different activities and research carried out on the EPN Science Campus, guided by more than 30 passionate volunteers ... [more]

A new Management team at ILL
Bill Stirling, left, and his successor Helmut Schober, right. Photo ILL/ S. Claisse

On 1st October, Helmut Schober became the new Director of the ILL, taking over from Bill Stirling. Mark Johnson is the new Science Director and British Associate Director of the ILL.

On Thursday, 29 September, ILL and ESRF celebrated the retirement of Bill Stirling, after a tenure of 33 months at the ILL a 9-year term as ESRF DG. He is one of the fathers of EPN campus and a strong supporter of the Giant campus. [more on the ILL website]

4th International Soft Matter Conference - ISMC 2016

The 4th International Soft Matter Conference (ISMC2016) was held at the centre Alpes-Congrès at Alpexpo Grenoble, from 12th to 16th  September 2016 under the auspices of the SoftComp consortium.

Three previous conferences were held in Aachen (2007), Granada (2010) and Rome (2013). Over those five sunny days in Grenoble, the conference has brought together nearly 700 experimentalists and theorists working in the soft matter field of which more than 200 students. Thirty-seven different nationalities were represented. [more]

The 32nd edition of the ECOSS conference series was held in Grenoble from the 28th of August through the 2nd of September at Alp’expo.

This conference is organised annually and gives the opportunity to European and world wide researchers to discuss about the most recent findings concerning the surface and interface properties of solids. This year 500 people coming from 36 countries worldwide convened to Grenoble to participate to this event. The venue has been organised jointly by the ESRF, ILL, CEA and the Grenoble Alpes University with the support of the Société Française du Vide. 5 sessions run in parallel for the whole week to cover a broad range of topics from graphene to molecules on surfaces, from surface magnetism to oxide surfaces and interfaces.[more]

Kinetics and RNA sequence dependence of measles virus nucleocapsid

Measles virus RNA genomes are packaged into helical nucleocapsids (NCs), comprising thousands of nucleo-proteins (N) that bind the entire genome. N-RNA provides the template for replication and transcription by the viral polymerase and is a promising target for viral inhibition. The nucleocapsid assembly process regulating this process has been described for the first time by IBS researchers thanks to a combination of real-time NMR, fluorescence spectroscopy and electron microscopy. This observation is reported in Angewandte Chemie on June 06. More on the IBS website

Metallic ink revealed in Herculaneum papyri - an ESRF publication

An international team of scientists has discovered the presence of metal in the ink of two Herculaneum papyrus fragments proving that metals were used in ink several centuries earlier than previously believed. [more on the ESRF website]

mars 2016

La nouvelle plate-forme de caractérisation de l'IRT NAnoélec est conçue pour faciliter aux industriels l'accès aux grands instruments de Grenoble : ILL et ESRF, sur le campus de Grenoble. La recherche technologique en micro-nanoélectronique bénéficie désormais d'un point d'entrée unique et d'un service adapté. Cette video vous en dit plus.

Rodin’s modelling techniques brought to light at ESRF
Clémenceau by Rodin. Credit: Bluzat, Cascio, Mary.

Advanced synchrotron imaging techniques have helped conservators gain insight into the techniques employed by Auguste Rodin at the beginning of the 20th century in the making of his sculptures with modern modelling materials and have participated in developing adapted protocols for the restoration of badly degraded models. [more on the ESRF website]

Large Scale Conformational Dynamics Control the Function of H5N1 Influenza Polymerase

An international collaboration of scientists from the IBS, the EMBL and the ILL has revealed the molecular function of a protein essential for replication of H5N1 influenza virus. This study, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, illustrates how the flexibility of a protein allows it to adapt its function, facilitating infection of the host. An obvious EPN-campus achievement! [More on the ILL website]

A tough egg to crack - oldest lizard embryos discovered in fossil eggs

Since 2003, scientists have puzzled over the identity of a batch of tiny fossilised eggs, originally concluding that they belonged to a small theropod dinosaur or a primitive bird. Today, with the ESRF's ultra-bright X-rays and cutting edge synchrotron scanning techniques, their true identity has been revealed. They are in fact anguimorph lizards and the oldest lizard embryos ever to have been discovered in fossil eggs. [More on the ESRF website.]

Dr Steven Cusack elected a Fellow of the Royal Society

Dr Stephen Cusack, the head of the EMBL outstation, has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Dr Cusack is internationally renowned for major contributions about protein-RNA complexes and for a series of seminal advances in our understanding of the structure and life cycle of viruses, among others. Congratulations!

The ESRF launches a new generation of synchrotrons

The ESRF officially launched Phase II of its innovative renovation project, the Upgrade Programme : 150M€ over 2015-2022. The major technological challenge is the creation of an ultra-bright synchrotron source, inside the existing structure, with performances 100 times superior to present day synchrotrons worldwide. The unrivalled properties of this new light source will transform the facility into a unique instrument, opening up new perspectives for X-ray science in many fields of fundamental and applied research. [more on the ESRF website]

How water molecules dance to activate proteins
Photo Martin Weik

An international team of researchers from IBS and ILL, among others, has shed light on the molecular mechanism behind the importance of water for functional protein dynamics. The scientists have discovered that water’s ability to flow on the surface of proteins makes them sufficiently dynamic to be biologically active. The results have just been published in Nature Communication.

An EPN campus success story! [More on the ILL website]


Writing lain undiscovered for centuries inside a scroll that was charred in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD has been uncovered for the first time. The text, discovered in Herculaneum 260 years ago, has been distinguished using X-rays at the European Synchrotron, the ESRF. The result, by a team from Italian CNR, the ESRF, Ludwig-Maximilian-Universität, and CNRS, is published in Nature Communications. It offers new possibilities for deciphering hundreds of so far untouched texts, without the damage that can be caused by trying to open them [more on the ESRF website].

Fête de la Science : merci de votre visite !
20/10/2014. Photo S. Claisse

Merci aux centaines de visiteurs qui ont visité notre chapiteau et arpenté le site de recherche EPN, le samedi 18 octobre.

A la demande générale voici les résultats du jeu-quiz sur le thème de la cristallographie (les questions puis les réponses pages 5 et 6). Les gagnants seront avertis dans les prochains jours.

In soft matter and materials physics, self-assembly serves to synthesize and control nano-structures with well-defined sizes and geometries. Accurate control of the properties (structure and dynamics) of these nanoparticles is essential for the performance relevant to a wide range of products.  A new mechanism has just been observed due to the unique combination of the high resolution of synchrotron SAXS combined with the contrast of SANS. An EPN success story! See more on ILL website.


Friday 21 February saw the official opening on the epn campus of several new buildings which were funded in part or in full by the local and regional authorities in the framework of a so-called CPER contract (Contrat de Projets Etat-Région). The opening ceremonies were attended by the French Minister for Higher Education and Research, Geneviève Fioraso, the President of the Rhône-Alpes region, Jean-Jack Queyranne, the President of Grenoble Alpes Metropole, Marc Baïetto, and deputy Mayor of Grenoble, Jérôme Safar, in their capacity as funders and faithful supporters of these projects. [more on the ILL website]

The IBS2 building - le bâtiment IBS2

With the arrival of 240 IBS specialists on the site, the epn campus reaffirms the international level of its research capacities in structural biology.



Building ribosomes – the cell’s protein factories – is like a strictly choreographed dance. Other ‘machines’ inside the cell have to produce specific RNA molecules and fold them into the right shape, then combine the folded RNA with proteins to form a working ribosome.  The study combined nuclear magnetic resonance experiments performed at EMBL and neutron scattering experiments performed at the ILL in Grenoble, France.



Neutron scattering at ILL and ISIS delves inside new crime scene forensics technique developed by the University of LeicesterResearch to address the fact that only 10% of fingerprints taken from crime scenes yield identifications that are usable in court



Harvesting unused energy has been the object of research since the days of the windmill and the waterwheel. In recent years, thermo-electric materials have enabled the re-use of otherwise wasted thermal energy as electrical power. Driven by the quest to efficiently cool densely packed micro-electronics chips, they are also used as solid-state refrigerators. One of the difficulties involved in developing thermo-electric systems that convert heat into electric current is the need for materials exhibiting high electrical conductivity but low thermal conductivity, which is only possible with complicated crystal structures. Scientists have now discovered a way of suppressing thermal conductivity in sodium cobaltate, opening new paths for energy scavenging.



Metals contained in nanoparticles can enter into the food chain. Scientists have, for the first time, traced the nanoparticles taken up from the soil by crop plants and analysed the chemical states of their metallic elements. Zinc was shown to dissolve and accumulate throughout the plants, whereas the element cerium did not dissolve into plant tissue. The results contribute to the controversial debate on plant toxicity of nanoparticles and whether engineered nanoparticles can enter into the food chain.



Developments arising from new science techniques at Keele University in the UK, the ILL and the ESRF have confirmed the presence of hydronium ions in the protein rubredoxin. The study provided a major advance well beyond anything achieved previously, and has opened up a new and extremely important area of protein science.


Breast cancer scans possible with a 25 times reduced radiation dose. Synchrotron X-rays confirm a new method for X-ray image processing.

Synchrotron X-rays confirm a new method for X-ray image processing.

Scientists have developed a way to produce three-dimensional X-ray images of the breast at a radiation dose that is lower than the 2D radiography methods used in clinics today. The new method enables the production of 3D diagnostic computed tomography (CT) images with a spatial resolution 2-3 times higher than present hospital scanners, but with a radiation dose that is about 25 times lower.



Understanding will help protein’s potential application in biochemical gas sensors or in state-of-the-art wound dressing.
Proteins do not need to be surrounded by water to carry out their vital biological functions, according to scientists from the IBS and the ILL, along with the University of Bristol, the Australian National University, the Forschungszentrum Jülich.  Knowing that proteins can function outside of water opens them up to use in real life applications because it shows that there are other alternatives if water is unavailable.


Light-induced phase separation (LIPS) into like-spin phases observed by Laue neutron diffraction on the ILL instrument VIVALDI

A team of ILL users dissolved iron in liquid surfactant to create a soap that can be controlled by magnets. The discovery, published today in Angewandte Chemie, could be used to create cleaning products that can be removed after application and used in the recovery of oil spills at sea.


Light-induced phase separation (LIPS) into like-spin phases observed by Laue neutron diffraction on the ILL instrument VIVALDI

ILL just implemented a new policy to to better define, manage and exploit the scientific data collected there. See more information and the complete document on the ILL website.

The new ILL data policy will be applied from 2012 onwards, starting with those proposals accepted at the next proposal round (deadline 15 February 2012).


The CRISP Project is bringing together eleven main players from across Europe to address four key technology areas for the big science of tomorrow, among which ESRF and ILL. CRISP was launched on 17 October at the Czech Embassy in Paris.

ESRF and ILL take the lead in several work packages across the four main technological areas as well as for the dissemination & industry related activities. The CRISP project is coordinated by the ESRF.



How do we bridge the gap between cutting-edge research and the science lessons taught in schools? How to instil a taste for science into today’s youngsters? Is it possible to inspire them through the international and multidisciplinary atmosphere reigning in world-class research institutes such as the ESRF, ILL and EMBL? During four days, from 9 to 12 October, the labs, meeting rooms and corridors of the EPN Science Campus resonated with activity of teachers aiming to answer questions such as these.



Under the umbrella of the large-scale facilities technology platform (PT-G), the EPN institutes attended the Rendez-vous Carnot which took place in Lyon on 12&13 October.

'Les Rendez-Vous CARNOT' is one of the largest gatherings of research laboratories in Europe. It brings together players in research and in industry.

Through many interviews, the TP-G partners gave a comprehensive view of the scope of the applied research that will be available through the TP-G, as well as its value.



Congratulations to Daniel Shechtman on the award of his Nobel Prize for Chemistry! Shechtman's discovery of quasicrystals was an extremely important step in fundamental solid-state chemistry and physics, and it has changed the way we see crystals and long range order.

There has been substantial related work done in this area both with neutrons at the ILL and with x-rays at the ESRF. Marc de Boissieu, a CNRS researcher at SIMAP (CNRS/Grenoble INP/ UJF), has been leading for more than 20 years now cutting-edge experiments on the structure and dynamics of quasi-crystals. “Although progress has been made, much remains to be done to understand  fascinating quasicrystals and the related complex metallic alloys”, says de Boissieu.


A schematic of the brain

Neutrons have shown the movement of cholesterol between and within cells takes far longer than previously thought. Findings could impact the treatment of a range of diseases linked to abnormal rates of cholesterol transfer.

Scientists using neutron scattering at the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL) and at the NIST Center for Neutron Research have discovered that cholesterol moves far slower within and between cells than previously thought. Their findings reveal how different concentrations of cholesterol within cells are maintained and shed light on severe disorders linked to cholesterol transport abnormalities, including Alzheimer’s, which may help in their treatment.



Scientists have discovered a feeding mechanism for the conodont, an extinct sea creature resembling an eel but perhaps a closer relation to today's lampreys. Their study may have implications for our understanding of the evolution of the first vertebrates.



ILL neutrons have proved the viability of a new radioisotope for better targeted cancer therapy. Terbium 161 has ideal properties for targeting cancerous cells whilst minimising damage to surrounding healthy tissue. A new paper published in Nuclear Medicine and Biology has described a method for producing sufficient quantity and quality of Tb161 to treat hundreds of patients a week!



An international group of scientists from Italy, the UK and France used a powerful new synchrotron X-ray technique to observe for the first time at the molecular scale how muscle proteins change form and structure inside an intact and contracting muscle cell.



The ILL, ESRF, CEA and CNRS are seeking to extend their research expertise and exceptional technological facilities to industrial users. To this end, on 16 February the institutes signed an agreement for the creation of a technology platform on the GIANT site dedicated to the characterisation of materials and processes, a crucial and inevitable step forward for tomorrow's technologies.



One of the latest generation of electron microscopes was inaugurated at the IBS on February 11 in presence of the funding bodies and Guillaume Lissy, representing the President of the Rhône-Alpes Region.

This FEI Tecnai Polara microscope, the second of its kind in France, will allow scientists to:

- visualize biological macromolecular complexes at the nano or pseudo-atomic scale and determine their three-dimensional structure
- visualize biological entities by electron tomography.

A mini-symposium by experts of cryomicroscopy and tomography concluded this event. This microscope is unique in the south of France.



Good news for Grenoble! The "Institut de Recherche Technologique (IRT) NanoElectronique" project is one of the six national projects selected by the French government for funding within the IRT programme in the Grand Emprunt scheme. ESRF and ILL’s characterisation Technology Platform will be a direct beneficiary.


The European Spallation Source site in Lund, Sweden

On 26th September 2011, the European Spallation Source and the Institut Laue-Langevin initiated an extensive collaboration for research and development activities within neutron science. In a Memorandum of Understanding, ILL and ESS set the framework for the future cooperation, which aims at developing joint scientific and technological projects.



A  collaborative effort between scientists at the ILL, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Keele University, ISIS, and the University of Toledo has resulted in the remarkable observation of hydroxonium ions that are thought to be involved in proton transfer during enzyme-catalysed reactions.

The work, which used ILL's D19 diffractometer, exploits the remarkable ability of neutron diffraction to visualise hydrogen atoms and therefore to be able to distinguish between hydroxonium ions and water molecules - this is typically impossible using X-ray crystallography.  The enzyme studied was xylose isomerase - this is an enzyme of high biological and biotechnological significance, and one where changes in the location of hydrogen atoms are crucial to catalytic activity that is associated with converting D-xylose to D-xylulose. It turns out that hydroxonium ions replace metal ions and may be involved in the templating specific sites for the binding of metal ions. The work explains how the activity of the enzyme decreases dramatically at low pH.



New biophysics data collected at ILL and ESRF will help biochemists make in vitro experiments more physiologically relevant by taking into account macromolecular "crowding" inside cells.

Researchers found that crowding has a significant effect on protein diffusion at the nanosecond timescale. This has implications for all biochemical processes and reaction rates when comparing lab results to cell physiology.



Researchers of the IBS, in collaboration with their colleagues of the UVHCI and the AFMB, report the first in situ observation of the intrinsically disordered domain of the nucleoprotein of measles virus.

Using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, small angle scattering, and electron microscopy, they have obtained a structural characterization of the intrinsically disordered C-terminal domain of the nucleoprotein in the context of the entire N-RNA capsid. Their results, published online by PNAS, suggest that this intrinsically disordered part plays an important role in infection by measles virus.


Coming soon..

My first news

Le Lorem Ipsum est simplement du faux texte employé dans la composition et la mise en page avant impression. Le Lorem Ipsum est le faux texte standard de l'imprimerie depuis les années 1500, quand un peintre anonyme assembla ensemble des morceaux de texte pour réaliser un livre spécimen de polices de texte. Il n'a pas fait que survivre cinq siècles, mais s'est aussi adapté à la bureautique informatique, sans que son contenu n'en soit modifié. Il a été popularisé dans les années 1960 grâce à la vente de feuilles Letraset contenant des passages du Lorem Ipsum, et, plus récemment, par son inclusion dans des applications de mise en page de texte, comme Aldus PageMaker.

PSB Student day

On the 7th of March 2016, the eight edition of the PSB student day was opened with a seminar on “Broadly neutralizing HIV-1 antibodies” by group leader Pascal Poignard who recently joined the Institut de Biologie Structurale (IBS), followed by a presentation from Matthias Haffke (Novartis, Switzerland), highlighting the various career opportunities which exist for post-doctoral fellows, especially in industry.

Throughout the day, the IBS Seminar room has seen second and third year PhD students: Benjamin Brocco (ILL), Etienne Raimondeau (EMBL), Charles Arnaud (IBS) and Xuelei Lai (ESRF) giving talks about their research projects.

A large audience attended the event and took the opportunity to discuss around posters during the lunch and coffee breaks in a friendly atmosphere.

During two clip sessions, 17 first year PhD students introduced themselves and their work. The afternoon session was closed by a presentation from Timothé Flenet (IMAG, Grenoble), highlighting the diverse opportunities which exist for pre and post-docs to create they own start-up.

The day’s proceedings were drawn to a close with the usual prize ceremony for the Best Poster and Best Clip. Best poster prize was awarded to Marko Nedeljkovic (IBS) and Best Clip prize went to Sylvain Aumonier (ESRF).

On behalf of the PSB student committee, I would like to sincerely thank our PSB scientific coordinator, Florent Bernaudat, for his precious help.


Congratulations to all the participants who took part and we look forward to seeing you next year!

The puzzle of the changing nanogold

Sometimes scientists become detectives in their research, like in this story. Take an evasive nanogold cluster’s structure, a newly-developed investigative approach and three synchrotrons in different continents and you have a plot. And four years later, an outcome, even if an unexpected and puzzling one. More


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