Minutes of Aug 19, 2009

From canSAS

This inaugural meeting took place as a "meet-me" audio conference call at 6AM USA Mountain Time and 10PM Sydney time. The participants to the call were:


  • Paul Butler: convener (NIST)
  • Rex Hjelm (LANSCE)
  • Pete Jemian (APS)
  • Andrew Jackson (NIST)
  • Steve King (ISIS)
  • Adrian Rennie (Uppsala University - representing users)
  • Mitsuhiro Shibayama (U. of Tokyo reactor and Japan rep)
  • Eliott Gilbert (ANSTO)
  • Sung-Min Choi (KAIST -- HANARO; but calling in from Sydney)

Absent: Peter Boesecke (ESRF), Ken Littrell (ORNL), Charles Dewhurst (ILL), Nick Terrill (Diamond), Daniel Clemens (FRMII)

Working Groups Update

The meeting began with an update of the status of the various canSAS working groups:

  • Facilities Representatives Discussion Group:

Paul Butler indicated that after a lot of thought and discussion and talking to teleconference type people about various options such as video links and/or net meeting or other web based venues, it seemed like the only viable option for a group of the size we could be is the old fashioned phone call and that future meetings will continue in that vein barring some novel clever suggestion. Given the vast time zone differences, Elliot Gilbert suggested that the phone may be best anyway as it makes it easy to participate from home or office or anywhere in between. Paul Butler further suggested that the original idea was to have such a meeting on the order of once a quarter. However, looking at the number of potential participants, it may be advisable to try something once a month and expect that significant numbers would not join each time thus providing the venue while mitigating problems of overwhelming numbers. Along those lines, He pointed out that for the first call, he decided to invite all that were on the original list along with Sun-Min Choi from Korea and Mitsuhiro Shibayama from Japan since Asia was poorly represented at the canSAS V meeting. A topic for next discussion should be whom to contact at the many other facilities and how to involve them.

  • Data formats:

Andrew Jackson and Pete Jemian indicated that the 1D format (an xml standard) had been agreed upon and that it was now being used at several facilities either as the primary output format or an interchange format. ISIS uses it as their primary 1D format as does APS. NIST reads it but is still in the process of implementing the writing of the standard file. Andrew indicated that NIST intended to use it also as the primary output format in the new version of the NIST IGOR based software due to be released by the end of the year. ANSTO is in the process of finalizing an ANSTO specific version of the IGOR software so that once Andrew finishes implementing the canSAS format in the base code it will also be the primary output for ANSTO. Further, there is an ILL version of the same IGOR based software which will therefore mean ILL data can also be output in canSAS format. Some discussion ensued about getting more X-Ray instruments on board and particularly the lab SAXS machines. Paul Butler told of someone recently complaining to him about not being able to use DANSE software easily because his Anton Paar SAXSESS does not output a form we read and was asking for a converter tool for various lab xray sources. It would be much better if those manufacturers agreed to output in the standard canSAS format and the participants believed that to a large extent the manufacturers would be happy to have a standard agreed upon they could then use. THe question was raised about how many of those manufactureres might be attending SAS and the fact that they should be sought out and told of the format. The suggestion was further made that they should be informed before the meeting of the canSAS sessions and encouraged to attend. Steve King agreed to take on an action item of contacting the registered lab SAXS machine manufacturers and informing them of the canSAS sessions. Because the 1D was agreed on so quickly, the group has moved to work on 2D and indeed multidimensional format. This is an area that starts to really overlap with the NeXus work which Pete Jemian is also a participant in (in fact he had a NeXus conference call immediately following this call). It looks like Andy Nelson's reflectometery format at ANSTO will serve well as a basis. The main point is to try to use nomenclature consistant with the nascent NeXus standard.

  • IGOR Pro Developers:

Andrew Jackson noted that there had been some discussion on nomenclatures so that packages from different facilities would not step on each others toes and that at this point NIST and APS had made the necessary changes in their code and that Ken Littrell of ORNL had agreed to do so but that he was unsure where that stood. Asked about ANSTO and Andy Nelson's code, Andrew said that Andy's code already was done in a way not to be problematic.

  • Global SAS web portal:

Paul Butler suggested taking this out of order as he understood not much progress had been made here and that the standards might precipitate much discussion. In the end the portal discussion was perhaps more lively. Steven King began by agreeing that there had been a start to the portal project (which can be found at http://www.small-angle.ac.uk) but that the postdoc who was to lead that project left and that resources were limiting. Some discussion of the requirements for such resources ensued. Paul Butler suggested that once we understood the content and an idea of lay out, he could find the resources to employ a high school student or an undergrad to implement it. Steve said that he'd had some positive discussions with Diamond people about allowing access to someone outside the firewall so that issue should be resolvable as well. On a related topic, Stephen pointed out that he thought that at the last canSAS meeting Peter Timmins had agreed to get someone at ILL to update the world wide neutron directory. However he has not been able to find anything to date. Adrian agreed and pointed out that indeed Peter had later announced that Ralf Schweins had accepted the task. The suggestion was made that someone should contact Ralf to find out the status of the project. Adrian agreed to take on that action item. Also raised here was the question of other sources of SAS information, including wikipedia. A suggestion that a useful project might be to contribute articles to wikipedia. A quick look by some participants revealed that already some work has been done though not clear who the main contributors are. Certainly a SAS portal could point to such information appropriately. Other web 2.0 types of venues should probably also be thought about.

  • Standadization:

Adrian Rennie who is the chair of this working group indicated that there had been progress on two fronts. In the first case there had been some more general and global discussions on what a good standard is and how to benchmark etc, while another front saw a round robin done with a glassy carbon sample provided by Jan Ilavsky of APS which produced some interesting results and exchanges with things still not completely understood (i.e. still an ongoing project). Results will be reported by Jan in Oxford. Adrian felt that this had been a very useful exercise for several reasons: (a) a reference sample had allowed anomalies in data reduction to be identified, (b) reproducibility of a sample could be established. There is considerable interest in circulating other samples to test other features such as wavelength, resolution etc. as work on the glassy carbon draws to a close.

Discussion topics for canSAS session at SAS09

Input to Rex on future SAS instrumentation needs for long pulse sources

Roundtable update on status at facilities

Paul Butler noted the hour had nearly elapsed but that he thought it was important for the nature of this venue to have a brief update on noteworthy items from the various facilities for those who were willing to stay a bit longer. Paul then began by saying that the expansion activities at NIST were continuing apace. He noted that there was a 10.5 month long outage originally planned to begin in May of 2010 but that in the past few days it has become clear that would be delayed till at least the end of 2010. He expected that soon more information would become available and eventually posted on the NIST website. Steve King pointed out that the ILL were to have an extended outage in early 2009. Paul said he knew they were normally down for January and February but Adrian Rennie said that this time they were not expecting to come up till late May or early June of 2010.


  • Adrian will contact Ralf Schweins regarding the status of the worldwide neutron directory.

Note on action. Several updates have been made in the last few days (29 August 2009) and everyone is welcome to send further information directly to Ralf Schweins. The directory is located at: http://www.ill.eu/nc/instruments-support/instruments-groups/groups/lss/more/world-directory-of-sans-instruments/

  • Steve King will contact the vendors of lab X-ray equipment attending the Oxford SAS meeting and encourage them to attend the canSAS sessions, particularly as regards implementing the new canSAS XML reduced data format
  • Steve King will talk to Richard Heenan about putting together an email soliciting input from the SAS mailing list to SAS instumentation needs/opportunities with a long pulse spallation source.
  • Paul, Andrew, and Steve agreed to "discuss over a beer in Oxford" (with anyone else interested in participating) the design of a SAS portal to be implemented by a high school or undergraduate student.