Explanation of what a synchrotron is, how light is produced, and how research is conducted.

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).

A synchrotron 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.

Synchrotron Light

Though a synchrotron is not the only way to generate Infrared, Ultra Violet or X-Ray light, we experience substantial benefits in brightness, experiment quality and speed, along with increased ability to select specific light wavelengths. Synchrotron light is emitted when the path of an electron beam is altered via extremely powerful magnets.


How does a Synchrotron Work?

As a third generation synchrotron, the CLS is comprised of several components including the Electron Gun, Linear Accelerator, Booster Ring, and Storage Ring. Each of these sections contributes to producing a beam of synchrotron light, which is then harnessed in a beamline, using an optics hutch, experimental hutch and work stations.

Poster providing an overview to educators and students on how a synchrotron works.


Connect with us

By providing your email address, you are expressing consent to receive electronic messages from the Canadian Light Source. You can unsubscribe from these messages at any time.

Monthly Newsletter

**Newsletters are sent approximately once a month**

Events Notifications

If you’re looking for information on how you can use CLS techniques in your research program, please contact us using this form.

Example queries may include: Feasibility around a potential experiment? A scientific problem we can help you solve? Is your question related to a specific technique? Do you want to know more about how to apply for beamtime?