DEMAX Second Pilot Call for Proposals

ESS support laboratory opens second pilot call for deuteration and/or crystallisation support from the DEMAX platform

The Deuteration and Macromolecular Crystallisation (DEMAX) platform at ESS supports neutron users from the soft matter, biology, life sciences and chemistry research areas. The relevant techniques that these communities use include: small angle scattering, reflectometry, single crystal diffraction, and spectroscopy. These classes of instruments are being built as part of the first eight instruments at ESS and have a science case that will benefit from DEMAX.

In steady state, DEMAX will offer three areas of support: Biological deuteration (e.g. cell paste, soluble proteins, lipids, membranes), Chemical deuteration (e.g. small organic molecules, surfactants, phospholipids), and Crystallisation (large protein crystal growth).

The hot commissioning of the first ESS instruments is planned for 2022, but DEMAX launched its initial operations for deuteration/crystallisation in 2019 in order to be ready to support first science at ESS.

We are now issuing the second pilot call for a limited number of deuteration/crystallisation proposals in order to practice and develop our procedures further, while we are still establishing the labs and our methodological capabilities.

The deadline for proposal submission is Friday 28 February 2020.
Following internal and external reviews (technical and scientific), users will be notified of acceptance of their proposals by early May 2020.
Execution of proposals will occur between June 2020 – June 2021.
First molecules/support will be delivered after August 2020.

A new user office portal has been established and will be available for user registration and proposal generation after 13 December 2019:

For the second pilot call we offering access to the following materials and services:
E. coli cell paste (protein expression strains, e.g. Tuner DE3, BL21 DE3)
Algal cell paste (Botryococcus braunii)
Recombinant His-tagged proteins with user supplied plasmid
Yeast cell paste (Pichia pastoris)

Support for large protein crystal growth of either protiated or deuterated proteins (incl. sitting drop vapour diffusion, dialysis, batch, optimisation, targeted screening, testing with X-rays)

Biological lipid mixtures
(available from Dec 2020 onwards)
Total lipid extract from yeast (Pichia pastoris)
Total Phospholipid extract (Pichia pastoris)

Requests for feasibility tests are also invited for the purification of specific yeast lipid classes (e.g. PC, PE, cardiolipin, ergosterol) from Pichia Pastoris (Jan-June 2021).

During this pilot phase we will not limit access to DEMAX to ESS member countries. After the pilot phase of DEMAX, we will follow the general ESS User Access Policy.

Lipid sep in lab

Lipid separation in the lab

Photo: ESS/Hanna Wacklin-Knecht

Although ESS does not yet operate neutron instruments, pilot requests to DEMAX should demonstrate the intended use of the materials at another neutron scattering facility, with a description of the scientific experiment to be carried out and the need for the requested service.
This can be done by demonstrating awarded beam time, a submitted proposal, or a strong intention for applying for beam time (i.e. a draft proposal), as well as a track record of past awarded neutron beam time. All proposals will be reviewed for safety, feasibility, and technical issues, followed by external scientific peer review.

Services/materials supplied to accepted proposals during the DEMAX pilot phase (2019 – 2021) is offered free of charge, but we do ask that users pay for shipping and handling of materials. Please bear in mind that DEMAX currently has partial staffing and limited capacity, and we will not be able to accommodate all requests.

We also encourage users to submit proposals as “expressions of interest” for materials that we do not offer at this time. This will help us to track evolving needs and interests in the user community, and also guides us in our future competence development and growth in the lab. Also, if such a proposal passes the feasibility review and time becomes available, we will do our best to accommodate it.

We strongly encourage applicants to communicate with us before submitting a request.

We look forward to hearing from you,
The DEMAX Team

More information about DEMAX can be found here: