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Name of Collaboratory :


Argonne Collaborative Access Teams


URL :  

Collaboratory Status :

Operational   Start Date : 1991 End Date : Info Last Updated : Thu, Dec 2 2010 8:01am PST

Primary Collaboratory Function :

  Shared Instrument  

Secondary Collaboratory Functions :


Domain(s) :

  Multi-domain use of Synchotron X-ray radiation light source mainly in the fields of materials science; biological science; physics; chemistry; environmental, geophysical, and planetary science; and innovative x-ray instrumentation.
Earliest uses of synchotron light source were for molecular crystallography.

Brief Description of the Collaboratory :


The Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory is a national synchrotron-radiation light source research facility funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences. APS is of interest as a collaboratory because it has been host to several innovative partnership and collaboration models, including the CAT, or Collaborative Access Team model and the CDT, or Collaborative Development Team model. APS operated with CATs for the first years of its operation, but has recently shifted to a CDT model.

In a CAT, a collection of private companies, universities, individuals, or states fully designs and funds the construction of a beam line attached to the main photon source. After construction the CAT group assumes responsibility for the operation of the beam line and can use 75% of beam time for partners while 25% is reserved for outside users.

The purposes of the CATs program were to 1) open up access to the photon source to more outside users, and 2) make sure that the facility was more fully utilized. The Department of Energy (DOE) funded the construction of the synchotron light source but did not have enough money to fund a full complement of individual beam lines. The original budget of $8.2 billion supported the building of the photon source and 1/4 of the full capacity of beam lines. At the same time, there was great demand for beam time from both researchers and private industry. So the concept of CATs was developed in response. According to Susan Strasser, manager of user support at the APS, this has been somewhat successful because of the 34 sectors at the APS, 30 of them have been built up.

There were 21 Collaborative Access Teams (CATs) that made use of the Synchrotron X-ray provided at APS. (see

CATs were not judged to be a complete success by either APS or its funder, the DOE. Some problems were 1)CATs were usually forced to build general purpose instruments to serve all partner needs instead of more efficient specialization; 2) there were additional inefficiencies due to lack of central management and lack of knowledge sharing between projects; and 3) shifts in available funds through private sources created instability.

APS now believes that dependable, central funding and administration is the best model. But they also have desire and obligation to support outside partners in some cases. So, the current model is that most functions are centrally managed, but some special projects are funded by CDTs, or Collaborative Development Teams. These recruit outside partners like a CAT but do not have to raise 100% of the money. These groups initially get 100% of beam time and oversee development, but then gradually transitions into a facility-operated beam line. The CDT partners then get 20% of beam time and 80% of the time goes to general users.
Generally, CDT's are established to build a specific instrument or to develop a new end station or to nucleate/develop a new user community around a technique that they have developed. These partnerships are renewed every 3 years, and they can be renewed by the submission of a proposal.

Other interesting partnership models described by Strasser include:

University ñ industry partnership: An example of this is the IMM-CAT which started with 3 talented individuals from IBM, McGill University and MIT who were physicists who had worked together previously in synchotrons and they were all funded by various agencies and they wanted to build a straightforward, single-purpose beam line to use for their own research and the research of similar colleagues. They werenít interested in having large amounts of partners. This beam line had a great deal of difficulty sustaining the operational funding.

Consortium funded: The Consortium for Advanced Radiation Sources (CARS) is acutally one CAT but it operates 6 beam lines. So it occupies 3 sectors and the institutional members of CARS are the Illinois University, the University of Chicago, Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois and Eastern Illinois. They operate in a slightly different fashion, each of the sectors are operated as an independent national user facility. 100% of the beam time is made available to the general user community through a proposal process. There are 3 main research focus areas for CARS; One of their beam lines is operated for the GEO-environmental soil community, while another beam line is operated by the NIH for the Biological Crystallography community and 3rd part of the CARS is focused on chemicals and materials and is funded by the NSF.

State funded: There are a number of collaborations between the State of Illinois and the APS. One of the 5 nanotechnology initiatives that are being built by the DOE is located at the ANL and is located immediately adjacent to the APS. One of the beam lines/instruments of this facility is functioning as a CAT. The State of Illinois is actually providing the money for an 82 thousand sq ft facility, adjacent to the APS, to house clean rooms etc.

NIH funded: Some beamline facilities at the APS were noted by users to be more collaborative in nature. These were funded to be a national resource and not as CATs. The NIH research resource program funds beamlines that, as part of their grant, must include both service (X-rays to general users) and also development of the beamline facility itself. Their grant renewals are judged by the extent to which they have integrated research projects with development projects. So they are by design not simply using the tool. They are providing a tool and developing the next generation of that tool.


Access to Instruments :

  Synchotron Radiation Light Source  

Access to Information Resources :


Access to People as Resources :


Funding Agency or Sponsor :

Department of Energy (DOE)
Office of Science
Office of Basic Energy Sciences - DOE (BES)

Notes on Funding Agencies/Sponsors:
The APS is a national synchrotron-radiation light source research facility funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

In order to make use of the light source, researchers tended to bring their own funding either as members of Collaborative Access Teams (CATs) or as general users. These teams are responsible for the design, construction, funding and operation of beamlines designed to take radiation from the APS storage ring and tailor it to meet specific experimental needs. By agreement with the APS, Collaborative Access Teams must allocate a minimum of 25% of their x-ray beam time to General Users, who obtain time through a central proposal submission, review, and allocation system.

There are a wide variety of funding arrangments amongst each of the CATs. However, some of the major funders of CATs include governemental bodies (NSF, NIH), universities (U. of Illinois) & industry.


Notes on Participants/Organizations:
As of February 8, 2011, the APS provides the brightest x-ray beams in the Western Hemisphere to more than 5,000 (and growing) scientists from around the United States and the world. These are the users of the APS.

There are the 560 institutions that have signed APS User Agreements as financially contributing CAT members (indicated by CAT acronyms) and/or as non-members as of July 2, 2004.

BESSRC/XOR Basic Energy Sciences Synchrotron Radiation Center
Bio-CAT Biophysics Collaborative Access Team
CARS-CAT Consortium for Advanced Radiation Sources
CMC-CAT Complex Materials Consortium
COM-CAT Commercial Collaborative Access Team
DND-CAT DuPont-Northwestern-Dow Synchrotron Research Center
HP-CAT High Pressure Collaborative Access Team
GM/CA-CAT General Medicine & Cancer
IMCA-CAT Industrial Macromolecular Crystallography Association
LS-CAT Life Sciences CAT
MHATT-CAT Center for Real-Time X-ray Studies
MR-CAT Materials Research Collaborative Access Team
MU-CAT Midwest Universities CAT
NE-CAT Northeastern Collaborative Access Team
PNC-CAT Pacific Northwest Consortium Collaborative Access Team
SBC-CAT Argonne Structural Biology Center
SER-CAT South East Regional Collaborative Access Team
SGX-CAT Structural GenomiX
UNI-CAT A University - National Laboratory - Industry Collaborative Access Team
XOR X-Ray Operations & Research


Communications Technology Used :


Technical Capabilities :

  Key Articles :    

Project-reported performance data :

  Images of the Collaboratory:  
Aerial photo of the Advanced Photon Source facility. Note the buildings constructed at a tangent to the APS ring. Those are the facilities built by the CATs
Diagrammatic representation of the APS storage ring with each Collaborative Access Team labelled by name, sector and discipline.
Panaromic photo of the research floor of the BioCAT facility.
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