A synchrotron is a machine, about the same size as a football field. It accelerates charged particles such as electrons to extremely high energy levels, to create an electron beam that travels almost at the speed of light. This is done by using the strong magnetic and electric field and simultaneously increasing the strength of the fields which fastens the pace of the electron. Powerful electromagnets are used to focus and steer the beam to go around the ring shaped vacuum chamber, the reason the use a vacuum chamber is because it minimises the chance of colliding with air molecules and it also allows storage of the beam at high energy levels for many hours.
Illustration of the Australian Synchrotron, Clayton Victoria.
At first synchrotrons were used only in the field of particle physics, for scientists to study collisions between subatomic particles with higher and higher energies. However when high energy electrons are forced to travel in a circular motion the beam releases an intense radiation, also known as ‘synchrotron light’. The synchrotron light also has many useful properties and can be filtered and directed down into ‘beam lines’ for use in a wide range of non-destructive, high resolution, rapid, real-time imaging and analysis techniques. Because of the usefulness of the synchrotron lights, many synchrotrons today were built for the purpose of generating the synchrotron light for scientific experiments, these facilities are known as synchrotron light sources or synchrotron radiation.
The Australian Synchrotron
The Australian Synchrotron is a research facility located in Clayton, Victoria. Which is used to create high energy beams of light used to examine the atomic and molecular detail of a wide range of materials. This facility is the Nation’s most significant scientific structure, actively supports the research needs for Australia’s major Universities and research centres.
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