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BeamlineXpress is a beamline access program that makes it easy for crystallographers with flexible schedules to obtain beamtime on short notice, by making use of cancelled beamtime. You can apply for BeamlineXpress time even if you also have applied for beamtime through the normal proposal mechanism. To be eligible for BeamlineXpress scheduling, crystalline samples must be non-hazardous and must be contained in SSRL cassettes for remote access data collection using the Stanford automated mounting system (SAM).Cassettes can either be obtained on loan from SSRL or purchased.
The BeamlineXpress web application can be accessed here. First time users of the system are requested to register to obtain an account. To get beamtime for your experiment, there are three steps which must be completed through the BeamlineXpress application:

  • 1) Register
  • 2) Create a project
  • 3) Train online (new users)
  • 4) Submit a beamline request (after project approval)

After completing these steps, you will be notified by email (and within the BeamlineXpress application) when you may ship a dewar containing samples to SSRL for remote access beamtime. Once your sample dewar is at SSRL, you will be notified when beamtime becomes available. Depending on your schedule, you may accept or reject these beamtime offers.

For more informaction about beamlineXpress access, see the Users' Guide


The first steps are to register and create a project. You do not necessarily have to be an SSRL user in order to register in the BeamlineXpress application. To register go to the BeamlineXpress webpage and click on the "Register in the BeamlineXpress application" link at the top right, or on the blue Register button (as shown in the left image below). You are then required to enter your email address, first and last name and your Instituition (below right). You then need to enter the text shown in a CAPTCHA image to complete registration.

Creating a new project

Once you submit a project description and it is approved, you can obtain beamtime at SSRL using BeamlineXpress. To create a project, after registering and logging onto the BeamlineXpress website, click on the My Projects tab.

A menu on the left side of the 'My Projects' tab lists any previous or current projects and allow you to click on them individually to get details. To create a new project, click on the "Create Project" link in this menu, or on the "Create a new project" link at the bottom of the page. You will be prompted for a Project Name and a Project Title. Please make sure you select the check box "I understand that my project can not include biohazardous samples". The next part of the form asks you to either link the new project to a current SSRL approved proposal (you will be prompted for a Proposal Spokesperson and a Proposal Number) or you may describe the new project. Next you must state whether you need a SMB Unix computer account or whether you have an existing one. Finally you should enter a return shipping address which will be used to ship back your samples and shipping Dewar after your experiment. Once you enter the required information click 'Create'.

A confirmation page will appear summarizing your new project (above). In the Status box under the Description tab, a message will read "Pending approval: for more information please contact Lisa Dunn (email:, phone: 650-926-2087)". Once your project has been approved, you will receive a message on your My Messages tab (below) that your project is eligible for beamtime requests. You will also get an email notification. (Please read the following sections for more information on submitting a beamtime request or shipping dewars to SSRL.)

The project will initially have four tabs; Description, Members, PX Accounts and Addresses (see figure on previous page).

Description - lists the project spokesperson, the proposal number, a title, the short abstract that was given during project creation, and the status of the project.
Members - allows you to invite additional people to your project, either as the project Owner, as a Scientist or as a Shipper. An email address and a first and last name is required.
PX Accounts - allows you to add a SMX Unix account if you have one, or to request a new PX account. In the latter case an online form is generated which you must fill out and mail or fax to Thomas Eriksson at SSRL.
Addresses - allows you edit your existing Dewar Shipping Address or create a new one.

Submitting a beamtime request

Once your project is approved you may submit a beamtime request for that project.
1) First check the Beamline Queue Information. Prior to submitting a request you should check to see which beamlines are open and available. Go to the 5th tab in the top menu ("Queue Info", below). This will list all the SSRL beamlines, tell you whether they are accepting new beamline requests and new dewars, indicate whether you have any current beamtime requests, and give you an indication of the expected throughput (ie, the average time from when SSRL receives your dewar to when beamtime may be offered). A link at the bottom of the page gives you information on the characteristics of all of the SSRL beamlines so you can choose the appropriate one for your experiments. If a particular beamline is closed or not accepting new sample dewars, you can still request it for beamtime but you will be put onto a waiting list for this beamline. You will then be informed by email when it becomes available.

2) Once your project has been approved, you will receive a message on your My Messages tab. Next to the message will be a blue New Beamline Request button. Clicking this will bring you to the My Project tab and two new tabs will be available, Beamline Requests and Dewar Info (below). You will automatically be in the Beamline Requests tab.

3) Click the "New beamtime request" button. The available beamlines are listed with a button next to each one (below). You can select any number of beamlines. Note: You may select one or multiple beamlines. If you select more than one beamline, you will be offered time on the first available beamline requested and you may be able to get beamtime sooner. However, currently using BeamlineXpress you cannot request or specify a different beamline to use for different stages of your data collection or for different samples within the same shipping dewar.

4) Select a beamline and click Submit, the screen will show Current Beamline Requests (below) and the status will show "Queue open to ship samples to SSRL for data collection at beamline BLX-X".

5) Next to this is a blue Ship Dewar button. Once you have loaded your samples into a SSRL cassette, you can click this button to proceed.

Shipping Dewars to SSRL

After submitting a beamline request, you will be added to the waiting list for the beamlines selected. You will be notified when the queue for a beamline that you requested is open and you may ship a dewar to SSRL. Follow the steps outlined in this section to ship a dewar to SSRL. Dewars must contain non-hazardous crystalline samples in one or two SSRL cassettes.

Clicking the blue Ship Dewar button shown above brings up the Dewar Shipping Form (below left), still under the Beamline Requests tab. Fill out the required information. If you are shipping two cassettes, supply both serial numbers. If you are only shipping one cassette, supply the number AND select the "I only have one cassette" button, then click Next.

The next step is to choose a beamline (above right). The beamline you originally selected when you submitted the Beamline Request will be checked. If other beamlines are listed below this in part 2, you may optionally choose one or more. Click Next.

In the next step please check your Dewar Shipping Return Address carefully and supply your shipping information including your FedEx number, and click Next. Finally select how you want your dewar retuned (with or without liquid nitrogen), confirm with your name and click Save. You are then moved into the Dewar Info tab where you must print your shipping labels. Attach these to the shipping container as shown in the diagram and make sure you put your return shipping form inside the container! You can then ship your dewar. You will receive an email once your dewar has arrived and is placed in storage.

Receiving/accepting/rejecting a beamtime offer

Receiving/accepting/rejecting a beamtime offer Once beamtime becomes available you will be sent an email and there will be a message in the My Messages tab which will say "The offer of beam time on BLX-X is probable within the next week for samples in shipping dewar XXXX containing cassette ###." (below). If you wish to accept this beamtime, click the blue Confirm button. You may decline this beamtime using the blue Decline button.

Once your cassette has been moved into the robot dewar, there will be a message in My Messages which will say "Beam time on BLX-X is imminent within 48 hours for samples in shipping dewar XXX. Cassette ### is in the left position of the robot dewar." (below).

You can expect to be activated on the beamline at any time and you should be ready to go once you receive notification. You will receive notification by email and also via a message in My Messages which will read "You are NOW online at BLX-X for samples in shipping dewar XXXX. Cassette YYY is in the left position of the robot dewar." (below). You will now be able to connect via the NX client and connect to Blu-Ice on the beamline you have been allocated.

When you have completed your data collection, come to the My Messages tab again and click on the blue End Beam Time button. You have two choices (below), either ending your beamtime and having your dewar stored for later beamtime, or ending the date collection and having the dewar returned. If you chose the first option, you will be notified that your dewar has been stored.


Once you log into BeamlineXpress, the web application consists of the following tabs: Home, My Messages, My Projects, My Beamline Requests, Queue Info, My Dewars, and My Profile

Home - the page you initially see before you register or login to the application. Links at the bottom of the page direct you to information on remote access data collection at SSRL MX beamlines, details on the use of the SSRL sample cassette and information on the SSRL Remote Desktop and how to obtain a Unix Computer Account.

My Messages - where any messages from Administrators or the BeamlineXpress system will appear. There are also two links to videos on sample pin preparation and the use of the SSRL cassette that you should watch prior to shipping samples to SSRL for the first time.

My Projects - where you enter information about BeamlineXpress projects. This will be covered in more detail below.

My Beamline Requests - where information on any upcoming or allocated beamtime can be found. This will be covered in more detail below.

Queue Info - Information of the availability of beamtime on the various SSRL beamlines participating in BeamlineXpress. Clicking on the beamline name will bring up a page of information about the beamline characteristics. The table also shows whether particular beamline are accepting new requests and dewars, whether you have requested beamtime on a particular beamline, and the estimated throughput for each beamline (Average time from when SSRL receives your dewar to when beamtime is offered).

My Dewars - If you have shipped dewars to SSRL, this tab will give you information on the dewar name and cassette serial numbers, and the estimated time until beamtime is available.

My Profile - Displays were personal information and your shipping address, contact details and FedEx account number.