Innovation and Partnerships Office

Modular, High Precision Collimator IB-2883


  • X-ray research at synchrotron beamlines or laboratory-scale systems
  • Medical X-ray beams
  • Laser systems
  • Particle or liquid streams
  • Beamline diagnostics


  • Fast, high precision controls
  • Fast open-to-close time
  • No mechanical moving parts
  • Modular design enables customization and lowers fabrication cost
  • Extremely compact
  • Inherently fail-safe design


Scientists at Berkeley Lab have invented a collimator for X-ray research that represents a significant improvement over current technologies in the field. The Berkeley Lab collimator is compact and easy to use. Even unskilled operators can change the size of the X-ray beam easily, reproducibly and at will to match optimal experimental conditions of each of their samples.

The Berkeley Lab technology’s compact size allows both pairs of slit blades to be placed as close as possible to the sample to improve performance. It includes design features to prevent X-ray scattering. The technology’s modular design provides the flexibility to add capabilities and diagnostics to the core system with no loss of performance. In addition, it offers a low initial cost and high reliability for lower maintenance and materials costs.

The device’s fast open-to-close time (in 10 ms to 50 ms range) indicates that the system could serve as the main beam exposure shutter for an experiment, thus eliminating the need for an additional beamline component. Due to its high precision, the Berkeley Lab collimator can also be used as a beam diagnostic, enabling the size and/or position of the beam to be quickly determined.

Current collimator technologies have a number of shortcomings. Devices with interchangeable, fixed apertures, although compact, offer only a limited number of discrete sizes, and each may require realignment after installation.  XY slits, a mechanically complex option, can take up a considerable amount of space, and the blade pair arrangement may result in a rear blade pair location too far from the sample. In another configuration, XY slits have been mounted onto extended lever arms to reduce the devices size near the sample area. However, the mechanical linkage system needed increases the overall size of the assembly, adds complexity and reduces accuracy. The Berkeley Lab Collimator overcomes these limitations.

DEVELOPMENT STAGE: In continuous use at the Advanced Light Source for approximately 1 year.

STATUS: Available for licensing or collaborative research.


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