Barkla X-ray Laboratory of Biophysics

The Barkla X-ray Laboratory of Biophysics is a combined crystallography-scattering X-ray facility, the first such university centre in Europe.

This represents a major investment at the University of Liverpool for research and training in X-ray structural biology and molecular biophysics. We provide postgraduates and postdoctoral staff with opportunities for cross-disciplinary research, enhancing their prospects for work in industries applying X-ray techniques.

The facility

The facility houses the following instruments:

Rigaku FR-E+ Superbright microfocus rotating anode generator

the brightest available desk laboratory X-ray source, comparable to 2nd generation synchrotron bending magnet beamlines. It has the following specifications:

  • Operates in a distinctive dual port mode.
  • One X-ray port is a state-of-the-art set up for laboratory-based 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.
  • The second X-ray port is for small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) experiments, where Size Exclusion Chromatography (SEC) and Light Scattering are combined to provide a SEC-SAXS facility. It has a maximum camera length of 3 metres, corresponding to a d-spacing of ~1900 Å, and is equipped with a MAR300 image plate detector.

Single crystal microspectrophotometer

The single crystal microspectrophotometer is made to measure UV/visible spectra of protein crystals at 100 K.

Our history

The laboratory is named in honour of Charles Glover Barkla. A student and lecturer at the university, Barkla received the 1917 Nobel Prize in Physics for his key contributions to defining the nature of X-rays, which led to the first X-ray diffraction experiments, and for studying interactions of X-rays with matter, which led to the identification of discrete electron energy states (K, L, M...) in atoms.

The laboratory was opened by Dame Louise Johnson and Sir Tom Blundellon the 21st July 2011.