The Advanced Photon Source
a U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science User Facility

Rebirth of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility

Read the entire Science magazine article By Adrian Cho here.

A brilliant new light shines in Grenoble, France, where officials at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility(ESRF) last week announced the reopening of their completely rebuilt x-ray source. The ring-shaped machine, 844 meters around, generates x-ray beams 100 times brighter than its predecessor and 10 trillion times brighter than medical x-rays. The intense radiation could open up new vistas in x-ray science, such as imaging whole organs in three dimensions while resolving individual cells.

“The light is back at ESRF,” said the lab’s director general, Francesco Sette, at an 8 July online press conference. The reborn synchrotron, dubbed the Extremely Brilliant Source (EBS), will open to general users in late August, but since April, researchers have used its intense beams to study SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, and the disease’s impact on the body. And the EBS is lighting the way for others, as the United States, Japan, and a dozen other countries develop similar machines...

After shutting down their machine in December 2018, ESRF workers replaced almost all of its components in just 13 months at a cost of €150 million. Whereas the original machine had two long dipoles in each of its 32 segments, or arcs, the new one has seven, plus 24 other magnets. All told, more than 1000 new magnets were installed in the same doughnut-shaped hall as before...

ESRF will have a few years to press its advantage. Its nearest competitor, the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, will undergo a similar yearlong rebuild in 2022, says APS Director Stephen Streiffer. “We see the two machines not so much as competitors but as sister facilities,” Streiffer says. “There’s plenty of discoveries to go around.”

The RIKEN Spring-8 laboratory in Japan and the German Electron Synchrotron laboratory are also planning rebuilds, and China is designing a brand-new x-ray facility.

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