Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Australian Synchrotron tour Part 2

After Ian Gentle had taken us around the perimeter of Australian Synchrotron experimental area we moved on to the particle accelerator itself.

The parts where electrons travel in a synchrotron are divided to electron gun, linac, booster ring and storage ring. After electrons are created and accelerated to high speed they remain in the storage ring for up to 20 hours.

The tube where electrons travel are kept to an absolute vacuum. Presence of any other substance inside the tube will slow the electrons down a whole lot and make electrons disaapear. The electrons doesn't just physically go missing, their demise will be accompanied with emission of gamma rays (this is a law of physics).

We are crossing over to the inner parts.

synchrotron hazard
Remember there're hazards when the synchrotron is online.

The switchboxes.

Sophisicated computers and power supply for the synchrotron.

Dean Morris is bringing us into the tunnel.

The synchrotron was not operating, so there were no worries about radiation or magnetism. But when it's on, it's a different story altogether. Remember law of physics is non negotiable, so are your safety.

We're now at the starting line of synchrotron operation.

electron gun Australian Synchrotron
This is where free electrons are created. Electrons are emitted from a metal under intense heat.


linac australian synchrotron
Then accelerated in a linear accelerator (LINAC).

linac magnets
Electrons are relatively slow at this point. So the magnets are small. Some serve to increase speed of electrons, some serve to bend the path, some are for path correction.

After passing through these magnets these electrons enter the booster ring for further acceleration.

I remember this red thing is part of the radio frequency control system of the synchrotron.

Then the electrons enter the storage ring. At this point the electrons are at 99.90% of light speed.

These radiation shield blocks are placed at bends. They're such vital safety device that touching them requires authority from above.

storage ring magnets
See the yellow box on the left? That's the bending magnet. At every bending magnet there's a beamline channeling synchrotron light to a lab.

A single machine cost a ton. No joke!

I made my way out of the tunnel and the tour came to an end.

Thanks guys!

Thanks ANZAAS for organising this tour. What a memorable experience of learning about a premier facility that's the heart of scientific research in the southern hemisphere.


  1. WOw incredible Boon! With the pictures you took, I remembered when I have my a month training at Toyota Autoparts Phils. Inc, alot of safety signs and big machines! But different fields though, because Toyota is more on Automotive and Mechanical works!

  2. Hi!

    I happened to chance upon your webpage while learning about Synchrotron Light source as part of my module in National University of Singapore. I just wanted to say that I really like what you have written and all the photos that you've taken.

    As a class, we were given a tour around the SLS situated in our university but we didn't get to hear everything that was said because of the large group size. I'm sure you had a much better time than we did. Thanks to what you've written, I am able to learn much better than this amazing facility. (: