SECoP@HMC: A standardized interface for sample environment metadata and control - SECoP integration into experiment control systems


Project Partners: HZB, DESY, FZJ, HZDR; ESS, Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum (MLZ) / TU München, PSI

The Sample Environment Communication Protocol (SECoP) provides a generalized way for controlling measurement equipment – with a special focus on sample environment (SE) equipment. In addition, SECoP holds the possibility to transport SE metadata in a well-defined way.

Within the project SECoP@HMC, we are developing and implementing metadata standards for typical SE equipment at large scale facilities (photons, neutrons, high magnetic fields). A second focus is the mapping of the SECoP metadata standards to a unified SE vocabulary for a standardized metadata storage. Thus, a complete standardized system for controlling SE equipment and collecting and saving SE metadata will be available and usable in the experimental control systems (ECS) of the participating facilities. This approach can be applied to other research areas as well.

The project SECoP@HMC is organised in four work packages

  • Standards for Sample Environment metadata in SECoP (WP1)

  • Standards for storage of Sample Environment metadata (WP2)

  • Implementation into experimental control systems (WP3)

  • Outreach, Dissemination & Training (WP4)

The objectives of WP1 and WP2 are to standardize the provision and storage of metadata for SE equipment for FAIR compatible reuse and interoperability of the data. WP3 establishes SECoP as a common standard for SE communication at the involved centers by integrating the protocol into experiment control systems, easing the integration of new and user-built SE equipment into experiments providing sufficient SE metadata. In WP4 reach out to the metadata and experimental controls community, e.g. organising workshops and presenting SECoP@HMC at conferences (see e.g. figure 1).

Some background on SECoP:

SECoP is developed in cooperation with the International Society for Sample Environment (ISSE) as an international standard for the communication between SE equipment and ECS. It is intended to ease the integration of sample environment equipment supplied by external research groups and by industrial manufacturers.

  • SECoP is designed to be

  • simple

  • inclusive

  • self-explaining

  • providing metadata

Inclusive means, that different facilities can use this protocol and don't have to change their work flow, e.g. rewrite drivers completely or organize and handle hardware in a specific way to fulfil SECoP requirements. Simple means it should be easy to integrate and to use – even for the non-expert programmer. Self-explaining means that SECoP provides a complete human- and machine-readable description of the whole experimental equipment, including how to control it and what the equipment is representing. In respect to metadata, SECoP greatly facilitates and structures the provision of metadata which is associated with SE equipment.

Several implementations of SECoP are developed and support the design of SECoP-compatible sample environment control software. The complete specifications of SECoP are available on GitHub.

International Society for Sample Environment (ISSE):
Project slides from the „HMC Project Welcome Meeting” March 2022