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The Barkla X-ray Laboratory of Biophysics


Dame Louise Johnson and Sir Tom Blundell opened a new structural biology laboratory, the Barkla X-ray Laboratory of Biophysics on 21st July 2011. It is named in honour of Charles Glover Barkla, a one time student and lecturer at the university, who received the 1917 Nobel prize in Physics for his key contribution to defining the nature of X-rays that led to the first X-ray diffraction experiments.

The facility uses the Rigaku FR-E+ Superbright microfocus rotating anode generator, the brightest available X-ray source, which is comparable to 2nd generation synchrotron bending magnet beamlines. Operating in a distinctive dual port mode, the system is used for structural studies in biological, medical and physical sciences.

One X-ray port is dedicated to protein crystallography, using a MAR desktop beamline equipped with a cryogenic robotic sample changer for automated data collection and crystal screening functions. A Rayonix MX-225 3 x 3 CCD detector is used for collecting diffraction data and represents a state of the art set up for laboratory based protein crystallography.

The second port is used for small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) experiments, has a maximum camera length of 3 metres, corresponding to a d-spacing of ~1900 Å, and is equipped with a MAR300 image plate. 

The University of Liverpool is the first academic centre in Europe with this unique combined crystallography-scattering X-ray facility. The recent acquisition of this state of the art system represents a major investment at Liverpool for research and training in X-ray structural biology and macromolecular biophysics, providing postgraduates and postdoctoral staff wishing to work at the University with opportunities for cross-disciplinary research as well as enhancing their prospects for work in industries where knowledge of X-ray techniques and applications is required. An active programme on fragment-based drug discovery is in place.


Dame Louise Johnson and Sir Tom Blundell opened the Barkla X-ray Laboratory of Biophysics, July 2011.


Prof Ada Yonath, Chemistry Nobel Laureate 2009 visits the Barkla Laboratory, October 2011.