Monday, 6 August 2007

Australian Synchrotron

The Australian synchrotron funded and run by tax payers, opened its doors for the first time last week in Clayton, Victoria. The massive facility which is about the size of a football field cost just over $200,000,000 and almost six years to construct from the time it was proposed to the opening day (31st July 2007). Currently running 24 hours a day for six days a week, the synchrotron is thought to be able to produce synchrotron light a millions times brighter than the sun! Synchrotron light can be used for various applications in biology (eg. protein crystallography), material sciences and physics. The facility which is encased in concrete walls is made up of two circles. The inner circle, named the booster ring is responsible for accelerating electrons very close to the speed of light which are initially fired off by an electron gun. The electrons are then collected by the outer storage ring. There are several catchment areas which come off the circular rings which will eventually represent nine labs. Of the many synchrotrons located around the world, having a local facility will be highly beneficial towards the progress of science in Australia by cutting down travel costs, experimental time and transport problems associated with carrying out experiments overseas.

Sources:
http://www.synchrotron.vic.gov.au/
ABC Radio National (The Science Show, 28th July 2007)

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