Testimonial: Natural History Museum, University of Oslo - XtaLAB Synergy-S

Dr. Henrik Friis
Natural History Museum, University Of Oslo

Dr. Henrik Friis is Associate Professor in Mineralogy in the Natural History Museum, University of Oslo. Prior to the installation of the new XtaLAB Synergy-S system in early 2018, Dr. Friis had no direct access to a single-crystal X-ray diffractometer system: yet he depends upon single-crystal diffraction techniques extensively to advance his work in relation to a wide range of recently-discovered minerals and new materials research. With a large number of collaborators, worldwide, Henrik was in a position to collect some single-crystal data in the laboratories of his research partners and at a number of central research facilities. There were several reasons for purchasing the XtaLAB Synergy-S system, as discussed, below.

As a mineralogist, Prof. Friis is often forced to deal with only very tiny amounts of sample, or valuable material from the collection and very often the techniques available to characterise these mineral samples are unable to determine the full chemical composition. Through the newly-installed XtaLAB Synergy-S system, Henrik is able to:

  1. Improve the capability to identify small grains where energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopic (SEM EDS) analyses were not sufficient.
  2. Examine materials too scarce for conventional ‘powder’ X-ray diffraction (PXRD) approaches.
  3. Move onto full crystal structure analyses: for the most interesting ‘new’ mineral finds.

The new in-house diffractometer has significantly changed the way the Mineralogy group deals with unknown sample types. Prof. Friis explains the advantages of having an in-house system:

“By conducting powder Gandolfi scans of unknown samples (where they form complex aggregates or twins) means we can identify much more material from our field work, collections or from the public without having to wait for analyses elsewhere. It has also enabled me to screen more crystals and select suitable crystals for full structure analyses. Consequently, I can focus on the material that is interesting and quickly ignore the uninteresting material. Furthermore, being able to do structures in-house means a bottle-neck has been removed from my own research, where I previously had to go elsewhere for analyses without knowing if it would be suitable for SXRD studies.”

After using the instrument for several months, Prof. Friis lists some of the major benefits and features of the XtaLAB Synergy-S instrument:

  1. The ability to obtain good powder patterns using the Gandolfi scans for my limited sample quantities has resolved many questions that I would normally have to wait for months to be answered.
  2. The intensity of the Cu source means I can test very small crystals and decide whether or not they are worth taking to the synchrotron.
  3. The ability to work with twinned materials is important as many geological samples are inherently twinned.
  4. The shutterless running of the detector means that very short data collections are possible and they can indicate interesting disorder or differences between a series of samples in no time at all. Before I would only have analyses for one or two fragments and not necessarily get the full picture. By being able to conduct several quick screening experiments and full experiments, I can select the best / most important crystals for detailed highly redundant data collections.

Would Prof. Friis recommend the XtaLAB Synergy-S instrument to other potential purchasers? Here’s what he said:

“I have no experience with the system for proteins, but for minerals, which are essentially small molecules it works very well. After six months I am impressed with the instrument’s performance, and also the software. Furthermore, in my dealings with Rigaku, I have always been listened to as a customer and have received quick responses, something I have lacked with other companies.”