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Keywords:

  • hybrid pixel detector;
  • single photon counting;
  • macromolecular crystallography.

The PILATUS 1M detector is a hybrid pixel array detector with over one million pixels that operate in single photon counting mode. The detector, designed for macromolecular crystallography, is the largest pixel array detector currently in use at a synchrotron. It is a modular system consisting of 18 multichip modules covering an area of 21 cm × 24 cm. The design of the components as well as the manufacturing of the detector including the bump-bonding was performed at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). The use of a single photon counting detector for protein crystallography requires detailed studies of the charge collection properties of the silicon sensor. The 18 modules are read out in parallel, leading to a full frame readout-time of 6.7 ms. This allows crystallographic data to be acquired in fine-ϕ-slicing mode with continuous rotation of the sample. The detector was tested in several experiments at the protein crystallography beamline X06SA at the Swiss Light Source at PSI. Data were collected both in conventional oscillation mode using the shutter, as well as in a fine-ϕ-slicing mode. After applying all the necessary corrections to data from a thaumatin crystal, the processing of the conventional data led to satisfactory merging R-factors of the order of 8.5%. This allows, for the first time, determination of a refined electron density map of a macromolecular biological crystal using a silicon pixel detector.