How It Works

Secrets of the SYNCHROTRON

Electromagnetic (EM) radiation is incredibly useful. It enables us to transmit music wirelessly over large distances, cook food in our microwaves and see the world around us in vivid detail. However, now more than ever, electromagnetic radiation is also crucial in studying the physical, environmental and life sciences that are making real breakthroughs for people on a day-to-day basis. From the creation of new medical drugs and vaccines through to the testing of revolutionary artificial organs and onto discoveries that allow diseases to be prevented, the harnessing of EM radiation on a large scale is truly expanding horizons in the scientific world.

In the UK that revolution is happening at the Diamond Light Source national synchrotron facility in Oxfordshire, a high-tech particle accelerator that excels in generating vast quantities of EM radiation in the form of synchrotron light. How It Works decided to take a trip to this cutting-edge science site to see what working there is like on an average day and what groundbreaking experiments are currently being investigated…

Exploring the synchrotron

A good place to start would be to explain what a synchrotron actually is. Essentially it’s a large, complex system of machines that generates electrons, accelerates those electrons to near light speed and then deposits them in a large storage ring. The high-energy electrons then fly around the ring circuit continuously until they are manipulated to generate very high-intensity X-ray light; we are talking

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