The use of synchrotron radiation (SR) technology as a production tool for microsystem technology and materials research is presently limited to specifically constructed experimental accelerator facilities. The large number of individual beamline solutions developed for specific applications at sources like DESY, BESSY or the ESRF impede the broader use of synchrotron radiation for applications in micro-manufacturing and analytical processes and as a result slows growth in microsystem technology.
Important elements of synchroton stations are outlet systems (such as dipole vacuum chambers) and beamlines for the extraction of particular beams form the accelerator. These components form the necessary link between radiation source and experiment and are manufactured specifically for each experiment. The manufacture of many of these components for SR facilities is increasingly being carried out by SMEs, thus introducing new high-technology engineering skills to the market.
In the MULTEX project a modular system with well-defined interfaces for multivalent application in experimental stations of different radiation sources was created for broader and more effective use of synchrotron radiation. Based on an analysis of existing solutions, design elements were systematised and a minimum of necessary modules for experimental stations identified. For these modules standardised interfaces were defined and applied in the design and manufacturing stages. After manufacturing of appropriate prototypes the applicability in a synchroton station was proven and finally requirements of redesign realised.
Application of these modules was expected to lead to advantages in competition within the EU due to shorter development times (expected to be reduced by about 35-40%). Feasible stock-keeping of single modules reduced delivery time drastically, with single projects generating a realistic time saving of between 10 months and a year. The financial expenditure of each experiment was also reduced by about 30%. The improvement of existing facilities and construction of new facilities could also become more cost effective within a European framework.