Joint meeting of the
Pan African Conference on Crystallography - PCCr2
The African Light Source - AfLS2

AfLS - The African Light Source

Synchrotron lightsources use particle (usually electrons) acceleration to produce high energy radiation (usually light in the x-ray region of the electromagnetic spectrum) that is used to study atomic structure of materials. The process of producing the synchrotron radiation starts with producing a flux of electrons. This is commonly done with a cathode system similar in principle to old-style television sets. The electrons travel through a system that accelerates them to relativistic speeds, i.e., near the speed of light. This system, commonly consisting of a small linear accelerator and a booster ring, not only increases the speed of the electrons, but also focuses them into a small beam. The electron beam, now travelling extremely close to the speed of light, is injected into the main storage ring. Many large and very precise magnets are needed to make electron beam follow the path of the ring, otherwise they will want to keep going straight. When magnetic fields cause charged particles to change directions, the particles emit radiation, the frequency of which is determined by the speed of the electrons. The storage ring has several openings to beamlines where the radiation is sent from the storage ring to experimental stations. Synchrotron radiation is extremely bright, much more intense than x-ray machines used in hospital and dental offices. Synchrotron radiation can be used to study the detailed atomic structure of materials. The applications are far and wide, including biomedical research, energy, food and water supply, archeology and history research, geophysics and forensic science.

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