A synchrotron is a source of brilliant light that scientists can use to gather information about the structural and chemical properties of materials at the molecular level.
A synchrotron produces light by using radio frequency waves and powerful electro-magnets to accelerate electrons to nearly the speed of light. Energy is added to the electrons as they accelerate so that, when the magnets alter their course, they naturally emit a very brilliant, highly focused light. Different spectra of light, such as Infrared, Ultraviolet, and X-rays, are directed down beamlines where researchers choose the desired wavelength to study their samples. The researchers observe the interaction between the light and matter in their sample at the endstations (small laboratories).
This tool can be used to probe matter and analyze a host of physical, chemical, geological, and biological processes. Information obtained by scientists can be used to help design new drugs, examine the structure of surfaces to develop more effective motor oils, build smaller, more powerful computer chips, develop new materials for safer medical implants, and help with the clean-up of mining wastes, to name just a few applications.
HOW DOES A SYNCHROTRON WORK?
The Canadian Light Source Synchrotron is comprised of several components including the Electron Gun, Linear Accelerator, Booster Ring, and Storage Ring. Each of these sections contribute to producing a beam of synchrotron light, which is then harnessed in a beamline, using an optics hutch, experimental hutch and workstations.
Research at CLS can be narrowed down to four different categories: Health Sciences, Materials, Agriculture and Environment. Users from all around the world come to CLS to investigate a scientific question and use the various beamlines that are offered. Each beamline has a different set of abilities and provides users with different techniques to gather formation to answer their question.
“It was eye opening to see the real scientific process.
We didn’t know what we would be getting into until we were doing it.”
Students on the Beamlines is a program designed for high school students to experience what it is like to be a real scientist. Students are partnered with mentors from CLS, research a scientific question, design an experiment, come to CLS and use the synchrtron, analyze their data and present their findings to the scientific community. High School students from all across Canada have participate in this program for the past 10 years.
Most of you may answer this question with "A Scientist" but there are many different careers at CLS - including a scientist. There are approximately 225 employees working at the CLS, with job titles such as Health and Safety Technician, Electrical engineer, CAD Tech, Machinist, Education Programs Lead, Staff Scientist, Research Associate, Communications, Human Resources, Administration, System Analyst, Systems and IT, and Financial Analyst.