Tables for
Volume F
Crystallography of biological macromolecules
Edited by M. G. Rossmann and E. Arnold

International Tables for Crystallography (2006). Vol. F, ch. 6.1, p. 129   | 1 | 2 |

Section Beam stability

U. W. Arndta

aLaboratory of Molecular Biology, Medical Research Council, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2QH, England Beam stability

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The synchrotron beam decays steadily after each filling of the ring as the number of stored positrons or electrons decays. Even with an X-ray tube operated from voltage- and current-stabilized supplies, the X-ray intensity changes with time as a result of contamination and roughening of the target surface. It is, thus, highly desirable to have a method of monitoring the beam incident on the sample, for example, by means of an ionization chamber built into the collimator (Arndt & Stubbings, 1988[link]).

It should be noted that when the collimator contains focusing elements, the intensity at the sample can vary by several hundred per cent, depending on the exact alignment of the focusing mirrors or crystals and on the exact dimensions of the electron focus on the tube target.

Intensity changes can be caused by mechanical movement of collimating components. Among these may be such unsuspected effects as flexing of the target surface with changes in cooling-water pressure.

The response of an incident-beam monitor may itself vary as a result of changes in temperature, barometric pressure, or humidity.

Synchrotron radiation from storage rings has a regular time-dependent modulation brought about by the rate of passage of bunches of electrons or positrons in the ring. For the great majority of measurements, this time structure has no effect, but at very high intensities, the counting losses are greater than they would be from a steady source.


Arndt, U. W. & Stubbings, S. J. (1988). Miniature ionisation chambers. J. Appl. Cryst. 21, 577.

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