Dedicated to state-of-the-art time-resolved research in biological and physical sciences. Learn More About BioCARS


Laue diffraction pattern collected at 14 ID from a Scapharca Inequivalvis tetrameric hemoglobin crystal, as part of 100ps time-resolved studies. Learn More About Time Resolved Crystallography

Laue X-ray diffraction pattern

BioCARS 14 ID beamline provides necessary infrastructure for conducting state-of-the-art time-resolved X-ray scattering studies with 100ps time resolution, both in biology and in physical sciences. Learn More About 14 ID Beamline

14-ID Beamline

BioCARS ps laser system: Spectra Physics, Ti:Sapphire Spitfire Pro 5 (780nm, 2ps, 1kHz, 5mJ/pulse) and TOPAS OP Learn More About BioCARS Laser Lab

Laser Lab

BioCARS micro-spectrophotometer for on-line and off-line recording of optical absorption spectra of crystals, to aid X-ray diffraction studies. Learn More About Macromolecular Crystallography


Our Mission

BioCARS is a national user facility for synchrotron-based, dynamic studies in structural biology and the physical sciences, located at Sector 14 of the Advanced Photon Source, at Argonne National Laboratory. BioCARS is an integral part of the multi-disciplinary Center for Advanced Radiation Sources (CARS) run by the University of Chicago.

The mission of BioCARS is to provide state-of-the-art X-ray and laser facilities, scientific and technical expertise and support to enable users to study the dynamic properties of biological, chemical and physical systems by X-ray scattering techniques such as time-resolved diffraction, SAXS/WAXS and fiber diffraction. Our emphasis on dynamic experiments is supplemented by the safe conduct of static experiments at the BSL2 and BSL3 biosafety levels. The overall goal of user experiments is to understand basic biological, chemical and physical processes in structural and dynamic terms, at the level of atomic resolution and on a time scale from picoseonds to seconds. Scientific problems addressed by BioCARS are fundamental to highly relevant biomedical problems, of practical importance to both pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries, and support advancements in the dynamic understanding of materials and basic energy sciences.

The technical expertise of BioCARS is in novel high X-ray flux, time-resolved pump-probe experiments. We are a unique beamline that specializes in the application of ultrafast laser science in conjunction with one of the world’s brightest X-ray sources; an X-ray pulse from the 14-ID beamline of BioCARS provides our users in the APS hybrid mode with a number of photons approaching that of a free electron laser such as the LCLS.

BioCARS operates two Experimental Stations, embedded in a Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) Facility. This BSL-3 synchrotron-based capability is unique in the United States and permits safe studies of biohazardous materials such as pathogenic human viruses.

Latest News and Highlights

Subscribe to Latest News and Announcements

Signal amplification and transduction in phytochrome photosensors

Sensory proteins must relay structural signals from the sensory site over large distances to regulatory output domains. Phytochromes are a major family of red-light-sensing kinases that control diverse cellular functions in plants, bacteria and fungi. Bacterial phytochromes consist of a photosensory core and a carboxy-terminal regulatory domain. Structures of photosensory cores are reported in the resting state and conformational responses to light activation have been proposed in the vicinity of the chromophore.

Read the full post

Cell Death Versus Cell Survival Instructed by Supramolecular Cohesion of Nanostructures

Many naturally occurring peptides containing cationic and hydrophobic domains have evolved to interact with mammalian cell membranes and have been incorporated into materials for non-viral gene delivery, cancer therapy or treatment of microbial infections. Their electrostatic attraction to the negatively charged cell surface and hydrophobic interactions with the membrane lipids enable intracellular delivery or cell lysis.

Read the full post

Conformational Substates of Myoglobin Intermediate Resolved by Picosecond X-ray Solution Scattering

Conformational substates of proteins are generally considered to play important roles in regulating protein functions, but an understanding of how they influence the structural dynamics and functions of the proteins has been elusive. Here, we investigate the structural dynamics of sperm whale myoglobin associated with the conformational substates using picosecond X-ray solution scattering. By applying kinetic analysis considering all of the plausible candidate models, we establish a kinetic model for the entire cycle of the protein transition in a wide time range from 100 ps to 10 ms.

Read the full post

Protein Energy Landscapes Determined By Five-Dimensional Crystallography

December 2013

Read the full post

Probing Anisotropic Structure Changes in Proteins with Picosecond Time-Resolved Small-Angle X-ray Scattering

We have exploited the principle of photoselection and the method of time-resolved small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) to investigate protein size and shape changes following photoactivation of photoactive yellow protein (PYP) in solution with 150 ps time resolution.

Read the full post