Testimonial: X-ray Diffraction Facility at Cornell University - XtaLAB Synergy-S

Dr. Samantha N. MacMillan
X-ray Diffraction Facility at Cornell University

Dr. Samantha N. MacMillan, Director of the X-ray Diffraction Facility at Cornell University, USA, recently purchased a single crystal X-ray diffractometer, the XtaLAB Synergy-S which was installed in March 2017. She offers her thoughts on the experience and how the new system has impacted on research.

Firstly, Dr. MacMillan shared her reasons for choosing the XtaLAB Synergy-S diffractometer

Our main concern was that our aging, sealed tube Mo system was not meeting the changing needs of our researchers. Two major hurdles that we consistently encountered were very small crystal sizes and the need for absolute structure information, neither of which we could accommodate with our system. To tackle these problems, we chose the Rigaku Oxford Diffraction XtaLAB Synergy-S system with a dual microfocus source (Mo/Cu) and HPAD detector.

The XtaLAB Synergy-S has changed the laboratory workflow at the Cornell University Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

After seeing how easy it is to work with the new system, our researchers are excited to use the instrument and are doing so with abandon! Determining the quality of a sample and setting up data collection is quick and intuitive with the CrysAlisPro software; spending less time on the set up allows us to focus on the results of the experiment and what it means for the science. Previously, about 70% of the time that was put into an experiment, from sample selection to finalized solution, was spent on experiment setup and waiting for the data collection to finish. With our new diffractometer, that number has dropped to about 15%. It’s difficult to overstate the remarkable change in the way that the facility operates as a direct result of the new system. Happily, I’m a lot busier!

Having been using the system for a few months, Dr. MacMillan discusses the most important benefit of the new single crystal diffractometer

The new instrument has revitalized our researchers’ interest in using X-ray crystallography as a real-time tool for their science instead of an afterthought or a special circumstance. The speed with which the new system collects high quality data allows our researchers to obtain a structure solution quickly, most times within a few minutes, making it competitive with NMR spectroscopy in terms of the most information content for the researchers’ time. These swift solutions help drive forward the science in our department in a way that our facility was not able to do before.

Outlining the important features of the XtaLAB Synergy-S to the research at Cornell University

The combination of the dual microfocus source and HPAD detector is incredibly powerful and I have been consistently impressed with the quality of data that we can obtain from crystals that I would have originally written off. The overall design of the system is another feature that I’ve really enjoyed. It’s clear that a lot of time was put into the design with an eye to how researchers actually use the instrument. It’s a treat every time I open the enclosure door!

A message to anyone considering making a purchase of a new diffractometer

My decision was ultimately cemented by doing a demo of the instrument and I would recommend that anyone considering making a purchase do one, either in person or virtually. I absolutely would recommend my new system – the combination of speed, quality and design has transformed the way that we are doing research in the facility.

Finally she adds

One word sums up my experience with Rigaku Oxford Diffraction: respect. Every person that I’ve worked with at Rigaku has respected our researchers and, importantly, respected our science. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with them.