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China inaugurates next-generation synchrotron, boasting world’s brightest X-rays – Times of India

WorldChina inaugurates next-generation synchrotron, boasting world's brightest X-rays - Times of India

NEW DELHI: China’s latest scientific milestone, the High Energy Photon Source (HEPS), set to be the first fourth-generation synchrotron light source in Asia, will begin operations by the end of this year. Located approximately 50 kilometers from Beijing in Huairou, this 4.8-billion-yuan (US$665-million) facility promises to enhance scientific research with some of the brightest synchrotron X-rays globally.
Pedro Fernandes Tavares, a physicist who leads the accelerator division at Sweden’s MAX IV Laboratory, remarked on the facility’s capabilities.“It will certainly be a state-of-the-art installation that will cater for outstanding science,” he said. The HEPS is designed to accelerate electrons up to energies of 6 gigaelectron volts within its 1.36-kilometer circumference storage ring. This process will produce high-energy X-rays that can penetrate deep into samples, revealing intricate details at the nanometer scale, a report in journal Nature said.
The HEPS will dramatically improve the time resolution of experiments, performing measurements in hundreds of nanoseconds compared to the milliseconds required by third-generation synchrotrons like the Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility. “Its time resolution will be 10,000 times better than that achieved by third-generation synchrotrons,” explained Ye Tao, a beamline scientist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) who works on HEPS.
By 2025, the facility will offer 14 beamlines for a variety of experiments in fields ranging from biomedicine to condensed-matter physics, with plans to expand up to 90 beamlines. Tao described the potential impact of HEPS, stating it will “impact every scientific field, except maths.”
The powerful X-rays of HEPS are also expected to change how researchers study the atomic structure of proteins. Tavares highlighted the advancements, saying, “Older synchrotrons require large samples that are difficult to produce, making it nearly impossible to study smaller protein crystals. But HEPS’s hard X-rays will be powerful enough to analyze even the most minuscule samples in detail.” He added, “It’s a real game-changer.”
HEPS is part of an elite group of fourth-generation synchrotrons, including Sweden’s MAX IV Laboratory, Sirius in Brazil, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility’s Extremely Brilliant Source in France, and the Advanced Photon Source in Illinois, USA. These facilities utilize multi-bend achromat lattice arrays to generate X-ray beams that are narrower and brighter than those produced by earlier generations, the Nature report said.
As the facility nears completion, researchers are meticulously working to ensure the beam’s stability for future scientific explorations. “No beam is perfect at the beginning,” mentioned Yuhui Li, a physicist at IHEP and deputy manager of HEPS, underscoring the ongoing adjustments needed to achieve operational precision.

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