Center for BioMolecular Structure

About the Resource

The Center for BioMolecular Structure (CBMS) at Brookhaven National Laboratory’s National Synchrotron Light Source II focuses primarily on two areas of scientific and technological research:

  • X-ray macromolecular crystallography (MX)
  • Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), also called solution X-ray scattering

CBMS operates MX beamlines 17ID-1 (AMX) and 17ID-2 (FMX) and the SAXS beamline 16ID (LiX). CBMS is funded by BER and NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

The MX beamlines
MX enables researchers to determine the three-dimensional structure of macromolecules (e.g., proteins, DNA, RNA) or assemblies (e.g., viruses, ribosomes). This structural information in turn advances the understanding of molecular interactions, enzyme catalysis, the action of drugs, and disease mechanisms, yielding insights essential for improving agricultural practices, food supplies, energy sustainability, disease control, and more.

  • 17-ID-1: the Highly Automated Macromolecular Crystallography (AMX) beamline was developed to address research questions requiring efficient data collection on a vast number of samples. The beamline is well-suited for biological structure determination of complexes in large unit cells, drug discovery explorations, and diffraction of specimens at room temperature. Expected to deliver a flux of ~1013 ph/s at 1 Å into a 4 – 100 µm spot, AMX covers an energy range from 5 – 18 keV. The beamline offers the research community remote operation and fast-automated crystal screening assisted by crystallographic decision-making software.


  • Edwin Lazo tests the yellow robot arm of the FMX beamline which is used to change protein crystal samples.

    17ID-2: the Frontier Microfocusing Macromolecular Crystallography (FMX) beamline supports microcrystallography with a variable beam size from 1 to 10 µm. FMX is optimized for collecting data ranging from difficult-to-measure large crystals, to needle clusters, down to the smallest micro-crystals. Beam properties and the highly stable experimental station are ideal for determining the structure of molecular targets that often yield small or weakly diffracting crystals, such as membrane proteins, large protein complexes, or RNA complexes. Crystal mounting robotics and automated data processing ensure high throughput and rapid feedback about data quality, resolution, and completeness. Data collection can be done on site, from a remote connection, or unattended (i.e., fully automatic).

The SAXS beamline

  • 16-ID: the Life Science X-Ray Scattering (LiX) beamline supports experiments in two scientific areas: (1) high-throughput biomolecular solution scattering and solution scattering with in-line size exclusion chromatography; (2) scattering-based scanning probe imaging of biological tissues.

    Covering an energy range from 2.18 – 18 keV, LiX provides variable beam sizes from 1 micron to a fraction of 1 mm. Equipped with 3 Pilatus detectors, the beamline covers a wide range of scattering vectors. Development is also in progress for time-resolved solution scattering using flow mixers to reduce sample volume in static solution scattering and for scattering measurements on single- and multi-layered lipid membrane structures.

About the Home Facility

The National Synchrotron Light Source II, a DOE scientific user facility at Brookhaven National Laboratory, is sponsored by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences. NSLS-II is a 3 GeV storage ring designed to deliver photons with high brightness in the 2 keV to 10 keV energy range and a spectral flux density expected to exceed 1015ph/s/0.1%BW in all spectral ranges when operation reaches its design parameters. NSLS-II is available to all researchers in academia, industry, and other government laboratories.

Co-located BER Resources

Other NSLS-II Capabilities

By partnering with other NSLS-II beamlines, the resource offers complementary capabilities to its user base. These synergistic partnerships allow visiting researchers to spectroscopically probe their samples from the infrared to hard X-ray range (EXAFS, XANES, IR), including microspectroscopy imaging and soft X-ray imaging.