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Virtual BeamLine (VBL)
VeRSI has built an eResearch demonstrator, the Virtual BeamLine (VBL), at the Australian Synchrotron. It allows researchers using the macromolecular crystallography, micro crystallography and powder diffraction beamlines to:
- See experiments from a location remote to the synchrotron.
- View instruments and the work areas associated with beamlines.
- Collaborate using advanced high-quality video-conferencing system and shared applications.
- Manipulate samples via motor controls, through a secure, remote desktop and an interface to the controls.
- Acquire data from experiments, which can be transferred to computer resources or storage at the researcher's home institution quickly and securely using the VBL Storage Gateway. The VBL Storage Gateway offers a range of file-transfer protocols, including GridFTP, SRB, iRODS, SSH-HPN and web-based SSL, all tuned for maximum throughput.
Using an OptIPortal installed by VeRSI at the synchrotron, view images captured by the detectors on sixteen 24-inch screens in a
4 x 4 configuration, at 36.8 megapixel resolution.
- Access images collected at the synchrotron using a part of the VBL called MetaMan. This allows a user to see an image in real time without having to download the file.
The VBL acts as a model for the design and development of VBLs on other experimental beamlines at the Australian Synchrotron, and other synchrotrons around the world.
In addition to the beamline-specific activities, VeRSI:
- Is providing an online induction service. This allows visitors to the Australian Synchrotron to undergo safety training before arriving on site, thus reducing delays in getting up and running.
- Has built a web and mobile phone interface for the Facility Status Monitor developed by the synchrotron's control systems team.
The success of the VBL demonstrator has led to its integration into the daily operations of two major beamlines, which are heavily relied upon by hundreds of scientists. The VBL modules are to be added to other existing beamlines as a result of this successful uptake.
In the future
The vision for the Australian Synchrotron is further and rapid advancement of remote access across the whole facility, to enable standards of capability at an international level. A program for advancing this capability is currently being drafted. It will address:
- Leveraging and sustaining VBL work to move from demonstration to production.
- Integrating the VBL into working environments across the synchrotron beamlines.
- Integrating the VBL with facility infrastructures (networks, storage, HPC, etc).
- Supporting exponential data-generation across the beamlines – data capture, repository, storage, analysis, transfer, visualisation.
The proposed program of work will enable remote access to current beamlines (3+), and potentially to new beamlines (10+), optimally phased over four years and building in remote capability of the new beamlines from the start. This is critical in terms of support (e.g. scheduling, analytical software), as well as for users, and will provide considerable benefits through improvements in efficiencies (time/distance/space), and improved uptake, and support of full experiment and data lifecycle.
1. The process of establishing the VBL has made a significant contribution to strategic thinking about eResearch in the community.
2. Remote access to most beamlines
Having remote access to most beamlines allows users to run experiments without having to be on site, thus enabling them to:
- Save money on travel.
- Run experiments faster.
- Generate more data.
3. Faster MX crystal-solving
By using the synchrotron cluster to half-solve crystals, researchers can make better choices as to which crystals to grow. This makes better use of beamtime, and:
- Is cheaper and faster.
- Provides more metadata.
4. One user database
- More efficient for synchrotron staff.
- Better for generating reports.
For more information, please contact Michael D'Silva.
This Project has now been completed
Project title Virtual Beamlines – Service Integration and Extension
Lead institute Australian Synchrotron
Principal investigator Dr Dean Morris – Head of Operations
Partner PIs and/or participating institutions Dr David Cookson – Science Management
VeRSI executive sponsor Dr Ann Borda – VeRSI Executive Director
VeRSI project management Michael D’Silva – Program Manager and Software Systems Engineer
Chris Myers – Program Director
Brief summary of project VBL Integration and Extension
Keywords: Virtual Beamline | Beamlines | VBL | Synchrotron | Crystallography | Diffraction | Optiportal | Metaman | Imaging | Storage gateway | GridFTP | SRB | iRODS | SSL