Record 30,000 publications for ESRF users


Working round the clock in shifts of 8 hours, the ESRF users have diligently collected every bit of useful data that could help them to solve a problem or to better understand materials or living matter. They have a new record with 30,000 publications being reached in September 2017.

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The users of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility have published 30,000 publications in peer-reviewed journals since the facility first opened its doors in 1994. The publications included many breakthroughs that were achieved with ESRF data, such as the discovery of the structure of the ribosome that led to a Nobel prize shared by two of our users. These 30,000 publications reflect the scientific vibrancy of our user community. Since 1994, ESRF users from all over the world, from different cultures and disciplines, have worked together to push back the frontiers of science, unlocking the secrets of materials and living matter. All the inventive research carried out at the ESRF propagates to society and boosts the scientific cultures, the economies and the competitiveness of the ESRF member states and beyond.

Such progress has been made possible through a continuous and dynamic research and development programme that focuses on constantly improving the instrumentation and technology of the X-ray source and beamlines, and has placed the ESRF as one of the leaders in the field of synchrotron and accelerator physics and technology. At a moment when the ESRF is preparing the future with a new storage ring, the ESRF-EBS, the 30,000 publications is symbolic of the dynamism and impact of the facility.

Founded in 1988, the ESRF began operations in 1994 and has since exceeded all initial objectives. The number of publications has increased linearly with the number of beamlines available to users. During the last decade, with the number of beamlines stabilising around 42, ESRF users have produced around 1800 publications per year. These publications arise from roughly 1600 experimental sessions per year, each session representing one or more 8-hour shift at a beamline.

Peer-reviewed publicartions 1994 to 09/2017 from ESRF users

Publications in peer-reviewed journals per year 1994 to 09/2017.


High-impact publications

Over the last decade, around 16% of the 1800 publications per year have been published in high-impact-factor journals such as Nature, Science and Cell.

Peer-reviewed publications 2008 to 2017 with IF greater than 7

Publications in peer-reviewed journals with Impact Factor > 7, 2008 to 09/2017.


Two examples of the latest publications in high-impact journals have been selected to demonstrate the variety of disciplines, the collaborative nature and, for the second in particular, the multi-cultural aspect of research at a synchrotron facility. Although from different fields, both are linked to sustainability, one of the pillars of research at the ESRF.

The first, published in Science, could open doors to alternative fuel sources, using algae to make hydrocarbons. The authors are scientists from four French institutes, with lead author Frederic Besson from the Biosciences and Biotechnologies Institute of Aix-Marseille (BIAM). In their publication, Besson and colleagues describe an algal enzyme that produces hydrocarbons from fatty acids using sunlight. The authors have identified the enzyme in algae, and then proved its mode of action in an assay for the conversion of fatty acids, which proceeded only when illuminated. They obtained the 3D structure of the enzyme following data collection at beamline MASSIF-1 (ID30A-1). The structure consisted of the enzyme with a cofactor (FAD) and the fatty acid palmitate. From the structure, the authors were able to infer a mechanism for the light driven catalysis.

The second, published in Angewandte Chemie, comes from an international team of scientists from the UK, Norway, France and Italy. Lead authors are David Wragg from the University of Oslo, Norway, and Serena Margadonna, from Swansea University, UK. Their research bridges the domains of chemistry and materials science. They studied components inside an operating sodium battery using beamline ID15A while the battery was charging and discharging. This time-resolved study combined chemical analysis and tomographic imaging and provided an insight into both the chemical and structural changes in the battery during charging cycles. Their results have revealed the mechanism of a promising anode material. These studies should help to improve the capacity and stability of batteries during many cycles of charge and discharge.



An algal photoenzyme converts fatty acids to hydrocarbons, D. Sorigué, B. Légeret, S. Cuiné, S. Blangy, S. Moulin, E. Billon, P. Richaud, S. Brugière, Y. Couté, D. Nurizzo, P. Müller, K. Brettel, D. Pignol, P. Arnoux, Y. Li-Beisson, G. Peltier, F. Beisson, Science 357, 903-907 (2017); doi: 10.1126/science.aan6349.

Chemical structures of specific sodium ion battery components determined by operando pair distribution function and X-ray diffraction computed tomography, J. Sottmann, M. Di Michiel, H. Fjellvåg, L. Malavasi, S. Margadonna, P. Vajeeston, G.B.M. Vaughan, and D.S. Wragg, Angewandte Chemie International Edition 56, 11385-11389 (2017); doi: 10.1002/anie.201704271.


Text by Gary Admans

Top image: Scientists working at beamline ID32. Credit: ESRF/D. McBride.