DECTRIS goes west

In response to a rapidly growing installed base of detectors, DECTRIS is setting up its first subsidiary in the USA. With the newly founded office in Philadelphia, PA, the leading manufacturer of Hybrid Photon Counting detectors will offer improved support and sales services for the Americas. Operation out of the Philadelphia office will commence this summer.
We are delighted that we were able to recruit Pascal Hofer for the position of General Manager. As the former head of the support team, Pascal combines experience and customer orientation at the highest level. "We place great value on personal, face-to-face contact with our customers, and we are very pleased to strengthen our presence in the United States with this opportunity ", emphasizes Christian Brönnimann, CEO of DECTRIS Ltd.
Mark 2027 in your agenda to celebrate the 240th anniversary of the US Constitution in Philadelphia with DECTRIS USA Inc.

New Head of Marketing Communications

We are happy to announce, that Andreas Lechner joined us on March 1st as Head of Marketing Communications. Andreas joined from Sage Software where he was in charge of Corporate Marketing for Central Europe. Prior to that, he was in international Marketing Management positions at Fujitsu, Compaq and Packard Bell. During his career he worked abroad in the USA, France and Belgium. Andreas holds a Diploma in Electrical-Engineering of the Technical University of Munich.

Andreas has broad international Marketing and Management experience. He will bring his knowledge of demand generation and brand management as well as customer focus into DECTRIS. He and his partner Stefanie are living in Schondorf am Ammersee, during the week Andreas stays in Switzerland. In his freetime Andreas enjoys hiking, skiing, rowing and loves to cook.

New Head of Support & Commissioning

Passionate about interdisciplinary natural sciences, Sascha studied nano sciences at the University of Basel in Switzerland. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he deepened his understanding of experimental physics at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, IBM Research, and finally at the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research in Davos (Switzerland), where he stayed from 2012-2015. In the group snow physics, Sascha worked on time-lapse in-situ micro-computer-tomography, high resolution force profiles in snow, and defended his master thesis on nano-structured ice-phobic surfaces for aeronautic applications.

From the mountains in Davos Sascha found the way to MYTHEN, PILATUS, and EIGER. Starting at DECTRIS as engineer in the group for Support and Commissioning in 2015, he takes over the lead of the young motivated team as of 2017. With a combination of expertise in scientific instrumentation and customer orientation he is aiming for the best possible customer experience with our hard- and software. The new DECTRIS infrastructure at the Täfernhof II facilities in Baden provides the perfect base to train our engineers, instruct our partners, and deliver more efficient support. The next step is to integrate  and coordinate a support team at DECTRIS USA Inc. in Philadelphia, which allows being even closer to our customers and acting faster on a global scale.  

SESAME Opening Ceremony

SESAME Synchrotron

The story of SESAME is about science, politics, tolerance and fighting all the odds. It is one of these stories that you could read in one breath, making you happy, excited… and sad. And it is no spoiler if we reveal that it has a happy end... or to put it in better words - a happy start.

SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) probably started in 1993, with what was called “naïve idealism” to build a synchrotron in the Middle East. The synchrotron would bring high-level science to the region, and shift the political and social focus to new developments. Obviously, the idea had many strikes against it: the political situation in the region, finances, infrastructure and a lack of highly skilled staff to carry out such a demanding task. But, as the Japanese proverb says “the day you decide to do it is your lucky day”. The “naivety” was spreading through the region and beyond, gathering UNESCO, CERN, synchrotron sources, observers and the member states: Cyprus, Egypt, Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority, and Turkey. Though, the journey was not exactly a streak of luck. The project encountered financial problems when the international banking sanctions were imposed on Iran, in 2009 and 2010 two Iranian scientists working on the project were killed, and in 2014 the facility’s roof collapsed under the unexpected snow in Jordan. But the project and its spirit survived and it goes on, receiving support from scientific institutes, governments, colleagues, and international organizations.    
We at DECTRIS know about counting. But it is impossible to count in all contributions to the project: from the Council and technology experts to the cleaning staff. So, today we are proud that Switzerland is one of the members observers, and that the components for the Material Science beamline were donated by the Swiss Light Source at Paul Scherrer Institute, where we have our roots.  And, most of all, we are happy for providing one important piece to the great scheme of things: the PILATUS3 300K detector, the eyes of the Material Science beamline.

“As scientists, we are excited about the Opening Ceremony, but more so about the upcoming first light and the first users, especially at Material Science and Macromolecular Crystallography beamlines.  We wish you a great start and countless photons”, comments Christian Brönnimann, the CEO.

16.05.2017 is the day when H.M. King Abdulla II of Jordan, Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, Chris Llewellyn Smith, the President of the SESAME Council, Swiss diplomats and many others meet in Allan to cut the ribbon. Let there be light soon.

10,000 PILATUS structures in PDB

High-throughput ligand screening results in winning PDB entry

PDB entry 5PQ7
5PQ7 The 10,000th structure determined with PILATUS data.

Today, the 10,000th structure determined with PILATUS data was released by the PDB. It was determined with a PILATUS 2M detector at beamline I04-1 of Diamond Light Source. The winning entry belongs to a set of several hundred deposited by Frank von Delft's group following a project to establish a fully automated workflow for ligand screening. The first author of the deposition (PDB code 5PQ7) and the associated publication in Nature Communications, Nicholas Pearce, wins a trip for two to Switzerland and up Mount Pilatus (more info).

The first PILATUS 6M detector for macromolecular crystallography was commissioned at the Swiss Light Source in 2006, but the first system built by DECTRIS entered operation at Diamond Light Source in 2009. PILATUS detectors are not only renowned for the quality of data they measure but also for their reliability. All PILATUS 6M remain in use, though beamlines increasingly favor EIGER X 16M detectors, the new standard for cutting-edge MX.

At the current pace – more than 50% of crystal structures released by the PDB in 2017 so far have been determined with PILATUS or EIGER data – the next big celebration will take place in early 2019.

Win a trip up Mount Pilatus

The 10000th PDB entry solved with PILATUS data wins Faes
Mount Pilatus as seen from Lake Lucerne.

It started in 2006 when the prototype of a new kind of detector was installed at the MX beamline at the Swiss Light Source. Revolutionary technology led to extremely sharp spots on low background, which initially posed problems to data processing programs. Once the algorithms were improved, data of unprecedented quality helped the determination of increasing numbers of structures.

Last year, 30% of all structures released by the PDB, slightly more than 3000 entries, were solved with PILATUS data. As of this week, this has added up to a total of 9889 structures. At the current rate of deposition, we'll break though 10,000 next Wednesday.

The success of PILATUS is the foundation of our success. To celebrate the 10,000th PILATUS structure in the PDB, we invite the author to spend a few days with us in Switzerland. We've put up an exciting program that culminates in a ride up Mount Pilatus in the world's steepest cogwheel railway (small print).

Maximize your chances of winning by releasing your PILATUS structures now!

Process EIGER data with XDS fast

NEGGIA makes parallel reading of EIGER data possible

DECTRIS is proud to announce the release of NEGGIA, an HDF5 read plugin for XDS. NEGGIA presents HDF5 data to XDS in a fully parallelized way, directly and without interconversion. Processing of HDF5 data is now as fast as processing of CBF files.

Martin Savko from beamline PROXIMA-2A of Synchrotron SOLEIL, one of the first testers of NEGGIA, is impressed: "Many congratulations for making the XDS plugin so well! It is indeed delightful to see the performance of this essential piece of code in our pipeline increased by nearly 40% while keeping everything else constant."

Download NEGGIA now (registration required) and speed up your data processing.

Now detecting electrons too!

Sacha DeCarlo

Always passionate about electron microscopy, Sacha De Carlo started using EM more than twenty years ago at the University of Lausanne, where he majored in Biology and Physics in 1998. Intrigued by three-dimensional models of viruses obtained with cryo-electron microscopy data, processed on graphic workstations, he decided to continue exploring with EM and obtained a Ph.D. in biophysics in the lab of Prof. Jacques Dubochet, also in Lausanne. Sacha continued his academic career in France (IGBMC, Strasbourg) and the U.S., with postdocs in Berkeley (California) and Boulder (Colorado), culminating with a faculty position at CUNY in New York City.

Sacha left academia in 2011 and switched to industry, when he decided to work for one of the major electron microscope manufacturers, based in the Netherlands. There he was in charge of the life science applications team in the EMEAI Nanoport, the centre of technical excellence that serves as demo lab and training centre for customers as well as employees.

Born in Locarno (TI), Sacha returned to his home country and joined DECTRIS in June 2016 and is responsible for business development electron microscopy. He is working closely with the DECTRIS product development team and with EM manufacturers to deliver the next generation of direct electron detectors to the EM community.


DECTRIS CEO Christian Brönnimann introduces spectral imaging

For the third consecutive year DECTRIS exhibited at the Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) with great success. By now, our presence at the largest radiological conference worldwide has become a cherished tradition. Our lunchtime seminar was again well attended and stimulated vivid discussions. The audience felt that spectral photon counting will take radiology “Beyond Imaging”, the conference’s motto.

We look forward to meeting you again at RSNA 2017. Until then, visit to learn about the future of medical X-ray detector technology.


All I want for Christmas is PILATUS

SESAME starts detecting the future with a PILATUS3 300K

SESAME is the best-known synchrotron source that is not in operation. While the electrons start to orbit in the storage ring, a gift-wrapped detector “under the tree” waits for the light.

SESAME, a new star in the Middle East.

“PILATUS3 is the first detector to arrive to SESAME. And DECTRIS is the first company to make a donation. This is excellent progress not only for the Material Science beamline, which is getting the detector, but also for the whole research center,” summarized Giorgio Paolucci, the scientific director of SESAME, during the 14th Users’ Meeting. Still, the story is more elaborate than that.

There are two remarkable aspects in the development of an international research center in the Middle East: science with its impact on the region, and the region itself. SESAME, the International Center for Synchrotron Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, is the first center of that kind, and its political layout matches its technical complexity. Current members of SESAME are Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority and Turkey. The center is built in Jordan, under the auspices of UNESCO, and is supported by donations from several European synchrotron sources.

SESAME’s Materials Science beamline got its name and its wiggler from the Materials Science beamline at the Swiss Light Source [1]. A year ago, beamline scientist Mahmoud Abdellatief took over the project.

“It is an honor and a responsibility to have Materials Science as the first diffraction beamline at SESAME. It needs to serve as a true multi-purpose station, and satisfy as many users as possible,” Mahmoud reported at the European Powder Diffraction Conference (EPDIC) [2]. “We want to cover various experiments: single crystal, powder diffraction and scattering, non-ambient, time-resolved and high-resolution. But, the number of applications unfortunately clashes with our budget.”

Even neighbours are excited about PILATUS 300K. Messaoud Harfouche, XAFS/XRF beamline scientist (left) and Dubravka Šišak Jung, application scientist at DECTRIS (right) at the future Materials Science beamline.

At DECTRIS, there was not much discussion about it. The obvious idea was to donate a fast, flexible 2D detector. After all, these detectors are already successfully utilized at many multi-purpose beamines, such as the PILATUS 2M at the Swiss-Norwegian Beamline BM01A [3] and, earlier, the PILATUS 100K at beamline 711 at MAX II [4, 5]. But, future users of Material Science need more. In order to support that many applications, the angular coverage, quantum efficiency and the speed of the detector need to be as high as possible. And in order not to impose restrictions on the choice of a future diffractometer, the weight of the system needs to be low. Since the EPDIC, lots of emails have been going back and forth before the optimal solution was found. The lightweight PILATUS3 300K system, with frame rates of 500 Hz is the perfect choice for the job.

“The system was delivered to SESAME a few days before the Users’ Meeting. This made it the best meeting I have ever attended. It was wonderful to see and hear the excitement about the detector and eagerness to get the first light,” comments Dubravka Šišak Jung, application scientist at DECTRIS.

SESAME is busier than ever. While Mahmoud is looking for a diffractometer for the MS beamline, his neighbor, Messaoud Harfouche at the X-ray Spectroscopy beamline is setting up the optics. The 14th Users’ Meeting is probably the last meeting before the first light shines from the source and proves that science can trump politics. The PILATUS3 300K came right on time. We are not going to try to prove existence of Santa. Deep down, we all know the truth, don’t we? [6] We will only wish SESAME and its users a bright New Year and lots of great PILATUS3 data.


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

[2] Abdellatief, M. et al. (2016) “The SESAME Material Science Beamline”, 14th European Powder Diffraction Conference.

[3] Dyadkin, V. et al. (2016) J. Synchrotron Rad., 23, 825.

[4] Martinez-Casado, F. et al. “Set-up for medium and high resolution powder diffraction (Ror rietveld refinement) and fast in situ studies” European Powder Diffraction Conference, 2016.

[5] Matěj, Z. et al. “Experimental advantages of Scanning 2D Pixel detectors for XPD ” European Powder Diffraction Conference, 2016.

[6] Oléron Evans, T., Fry, H. (2016) “The indisputable existence of Santa Claus (The mathematics of Christmas)”