New Chapter in the Research with Synchrotron Radiation

Junior scientist from Berlin extents the range of application of X-ray methods and receives prestigious award.

Dr. Emad Aziz

Dr. Emad Aziz Bekhit from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB) is this year's recipient of the renowned Dale Sayers Award–an award presented every three years by the International X-ray Absorption Society (IXAS), hon-ouring successful junior scientists.
The award will be presented in Camerino (Italy) on July 31, 2009 during the largest conference on research with X-rays worldwide.

The award is honouring the entire work Emad Aziz has published in his postdoctoral position during the last two years. His work made it possible to extend the range of application of X-ray methods to liquid samples, which had been inaccessible up to now, thereby opening up new exciting fields of research. At the storage ring BESSY II, Dr. Aziz succeeded, for example, in using synchrotron radiation, a special kind of X-radiation, to examine proteins in their natural environment. Up to this point, this had not been possible because the proteins had to be crystallised and therefore taken out off their natural environment to be examined. The samples had to be subjected to an ultra-high vacuum. Under these conditions, the water evaporates extremely fast, the sample falls dry, and the vacuum cannot be maintained. Emad Aziz countered this problem by constructing a completely new experimental chamber. In it, he exchanged air with a helium atmosphere and the diluted sample with a thin fluid jet. Since photons penetrate the helium atmosphere in the UV and X-ray range, spectroscopic analyses of the matter dissolved in water are made possible.

Dr. Emad Aziz at the beamline

In his experimental chamber, the scientist from Berlin studied–amongst other things–the interaction of different medications with proteins, as well as the oxygen uptake in haemoglobin. He quickly extented his spectrum of samples, rendering the experimental facility interesting for applied research. Not only life scientists will profit from it but photovoltaics research as well. Solar cells can now be prepared to allow new exciting studies of the charge transfer within.

The thirty year old Aziz is already recipient of the 2008 Ernst Eckhard Koch Award (dissertation award for the research with synchrotron radiation). At the HZB, he is by now leading his own workgroup. Future focal points of his projects are the applied research to optimise solar cells as well as biological activities under physiological conditions. Dr. Aziz shares the 2009 Dale Sayers Award with Dr. Keisuke Hatada (Japan).

Berlin, July 31, 2009