8. April 2019

CRISTAL beamline at SOLEIL introduces MYTHEN2 X 9K

MYTHEN is retiring. Assessing the impact of this strip detector on the materials science field is almost impossible. Installed at many powder diffraction beamlines worldwide [1-7], the MYTHEN systems serve diffractionists, spectroscopists and PDF-aficionados in their quest to collect the high resolution data fast. Why would the MYTHEN retire? Because the MYTHEN2 is taking the lead.

“With MYTHEN2, we created a system that could achieve high resolution, speed and dynamic range without compromising on the size or geometry of the system”, explains Stefan Brandstetter, Head of Product Management at DECTRIS. Indeed, using one controller (DCS4), up to four modules can be operated at 1000 Hz frame rate and 24-bit dynamic range. This comes with an additional benefit: up to four 1K or 1D modules of any sensor type can be arranged in any geometry.

Building even bigger MYTHEN2 multimodular systems requires several DCS4 controllers, which offers full flexibility in the design of the system (and the CE marking). The first beamline to build such a system was the CRISTAL beamline at SOLEIL. CRISTAL realized a three-floor housing to accommodate the MYTHEN2 X 9K and three DCS4 systems on the 2Θ circle of the powder diffractometer. Arranged on a curvature with the radius of 720 mm, the system will be used in the energy range from 7 to 30 keV for a variety of applications.


Nine MYTHEN2 modules are operated using three DCS4. The MYTHEN2 X 9K can achieve 1 kHz frame rate at a dynamic range of 24 bits.

The new MYTHEN2 X 9K will support the existing applications at the beamline: powder diffraction and Pair Distribution Function analysis of a variety of samples organics, batteries, catalysts, and cultural heritage materials. The tiny jitter of the three DCS4 controllers of 20 ns will give access to an exciting time domain in pump-and-probe experiments on powder samples.

The installation of the MYTHEN2 X 9K in 2018 has redefined the beamline’s course. The large coverage and the high frame rate of the detector now enable monitoring dynamic processes in materials at temporal resolution and with high statistics. The excellent data quality of the photon counting MYTHEN2 detector allows for crystal structure determination, which opens up new possibilities in time-resolved and operando studies of metal organic frameworks (MOFs), catalysts, and batteries. Admittedly, the data resolution is slightly lower relative to the crystal analyzer setup, but this is not an obstacle as the investigated materials often exhibit limited or low crystallinity.

“With the MYTHEN2 system, we can meet the needs of users interested in PDF analysis. The sensor is one millimeter thick, which increases the quantum efficiency at 30 keV, the highest energy the beamline can reach”, explains Erik Elkaïm, beamline scientist at CRISTAL. The combination of high flux, moderately high energy X-rays, and detector coverage (50° in 2θ) allows relatively high Q ranges to be measured in short time. This facilitates (total) scattering measurements at the beamline, but it also increases the throughput of samples (and users!).  

On 24th of April, CRISTAL will celebrate its 13th anniversary of successful operation in the fields of powder X-ray diffraction, single crystal diffraction and coherent diffraction. DECTRIS would like to wish the beamline staff and users many interesting projects, lots of good data, and an automatic sample changer.


[1] Bergamaschi, A. et al. (2010) J. Synchrotron Rad. 17, 653-668.

[2] Willmott, P.R. et al. (2013) J. Synchrotron Rad. 20, 667-682.

[3] Fauth, F. et al. (2013) J. Powder Diffraction 28(2), 360-370.

[4] Du, R. et al. (2016) Instrumentation Science and Technology 44(1), 1-11.

[5] Thompson, S.P. et al. (2011) J. Synchrotron Rad. 18, 637-648.

[6] Gao, M. et al. (2016) J. Appl. Cryst. 49, 1-8.

[7] Kawaguchi, s. et al. (2017) Rev. Sci. Inst. 88, 085111.