200 mA current achieved!

The Australian Synchrotron achieved another major operational milestone on 15 December when the storage ring was filled to 200 mA, the target "circulating current" for the Australian Synchrotron.

Having achieved ‘first light’ in July 2006, the storage ring is now operating daily. Progressive ramping-up of current continued from mid-November when the current was increased from 100 mA (achieved for more than 10 hours) to full operating current of 200 mA.

During a programmed shutdown at site at the end of October, power supplies (linac, booster, and storage ring) were upgraded, and the storage ring RF system capability brought up to full power. Beam current was returned early in November.

Cavity conditioning work has been completed by Toshiba with all four cavity systems passing their 48-hour full power acceptance tests. All are now in operation. Installation of the new narrow-gap wiggler vacuum vessel is complete and the XAS wiggler has arrived and is being installed.

In the experimental area contractors have been installing cable trays, pulling cables and installing air and water services for the experimental hutches.


Infrared Beamline

A contract has been placed with BioLab Pty to supply two Bruker infrared spectrometers for the IR beamline. One instrument will be a Bruker V80v mid infrared spectrometer with Hyperion microscope, and the second instrument will be a Bruker IFS 125 high resolution spectrometer for gas phase studies. The instruments will both be delivered in 2007.

The IR beamline first mirror, which will be inserted through the side of the dipole vessel, has been completed by Kugler GmbH of Salem, Germany. This is manufactured from oxygen-free copper with a gold-coated reflecting surface. The central slot is to allow X-rays to pass through.

X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy Beamline

from Chris Glover, XAS Beamline Scientist

The XAS Wiggler is currently being air freighted to Melbourne. It is scheduled for installation into the storage ring before Christmas. The XAS beamline is currently undergoing Factory Acceptance Tests at Accel, Germany. Installation is scheduled to begin early in 2007.

Most end-station equipment has been delivered. The experimental table is almost complete, with equipment beginning to be assembled to it. The cryostat is ordered and due to arrive in February. Hutch and utilities installation is going well.

Image: XAS Beamline wiggler with all magnets assembled and mounted. [Courtesy Mark Ridgway]

Micro-spectroscopy Beamline

from David Paterson, Microspectroscopy Beamline Scientist

We have commissioned a feasibility, design and performance report on a 32-element prototype fluorescence detector system being developed jointly by Brookhaven National Laboratory and CSIRO.

The ultimate goal is to build a highly advanced 384-element detector system optimised for the Micro-spectroscopy beamline and ready for operation in early 2008.

Imaging and Therapy Beamline

from Daniel Häusermann, Imaging and Therapy Beamline Scientist

The Beamline Advisory Panel met recently to re-assess priorities for the Imaging and Therapy Beamline (ITBL). The scientific objectives were agreed as follows:
(1) High quality phase-contrast imaging and tomography of macroscopic objects including animals, humans and materials science samples;
(2) Research into novel radiotherapy modalities including micro-beam radiotherapy and photo-activation therapy.

To achieve these objectives the beamline requires a long propagation distance between the source and the object, and hence the 150 m beamline was moved to the highest priority. Work on defining the civil engineering needs and technical specifications of this large project are progressing well.

On the instrumentation side, full sets of construction drawings for a range of beam conditioning and optics components have been purchased from the ESRF and the design work required to adapt these for our project has begun.

Tenders for the three remaining enclosures have been evaluated and the contract will be placed this month.


2006 Joint ASRP–Australian Synchrotron Users Workshop, 29 November–1 December

More than 300 delegates attended the 2006 Joint Australian Synchrotron Research Program (ASRP) – Australian Synchrotron Users Workshop in Melbourne between 29 November and 1 December 2006.

The program featured two outstanding international keynote speakers and a packed program of excellent presentations.

Keynote speaker Dr Gene Ice, Materials Science Division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, set the pace for the Workshop with a wide-ranging opening presentation on applications of advanced micro-focus x-ray optics in materials science and the unique insights into materials properties that can be gained using his new technique of ‘Different Aperture X-ray Microscopy’.

The Workshop then heard presentations by the Australian Synchrotron team on progress with the Australian machine and its beamlines. The afternoon session began with five informative and varied presentations by synchrotron users on their current research, before delegates broke into small groups to discuss Australian beamlines.

Day 2 opened with an intriguing presentation by Stefan Vogt from the Advanced Photon Source, Chicago on using synchrotron x-ray fluorescence microscopy to map and quantify trace metal distributions in biological specimens such as cells and bacteria. Stefan highlighted his talk with examples ranging from the investigation of nano-composites in biological cells to the role of zinc in cardiac myocytes.

Prof Keith Nugent then briefed delegates on progress with the decadal plan for synchrotron research in Australia, a plan that was initiated at the Users Workshop in 2005. Copies of the final plan were distributed on CD-ROM.

This was followed by an update on the ASRP’s activities and facilities, five more user presentations, the first of two poster sessions showcasing almost 60 posters, four more beamline breakout sessions, ending with a well-earned conference dinner entertained by the surf-guitar band Instrumental Asylum, with hits like ‘Surfin’ the Synchrotron’.

The final day included the presentation of the 2006 ASRP Medal to Dr Lauren Ely who completed her PhD at Monash University and is now a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University. The presentation was followed by two keynote speakers: James Whisstock, recent recipient of the Science Minister’s Life Scientist of the Year Award, who explained his work on proteases and protease inhibitors, and Victor Streltsov on the ground-breaking determination of the structure of the insulin receptor variant IR-A. Two final sessions of user presentations followed, including talks by five ASRP Fellows.

The meeting concluded with a visit to the Australian Synchrotron, where users inspected the newly installed hutches and the PX robot, finishing with an informal barbecue with site staff.

Council of Members Inaugural Meeting

On 16 November the Council of Members, representing all funding partners and partner consortia, met for the first time to plan for the operating phase of the Australian Synchrotron. The Council considered priorities for ongoing beamline development.

Partners also discussed operating policy, including arrangements for ensuring Australia’s and New Zealand’s best and brightest scientists have ready access to the beamlines they need to stay globally competitive. Leading scientists will participate in expert selection committees to review research proposals requiring synchrotron beam time and allocate priorities based on scientific merit.

NCRIS Funding

The Commonwealth announced $18.2 million in synchrotron funding through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) — just under $14 million towards the initial 9 beamlines and the remainder for ongoing access to overseas facilities.

MOU signed with Shanghai Synchrotron

A delegation from the Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility (SSRF), including Professor Yongxiang Lu, President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Professor Hongjie Xu, Director General of the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics, visited the Australian Synchrotron in November, and also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Australian Synchrotron to undertake collaborative scientific activities.


Image: Prof Hongjie Xu and Ms Fran Thorn, Secretary of DIIRD representing the Minister for Innovation, shake hands after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the two facilities. Applauding are the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Prof Glyn Davis, and Prof Yongxiang Lu, President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. [Photo: Courtesy University of Melbourne]

Protein crystallography pioneer wins NZ Rutherford Medal

Leading New Zealand protein crystallographer Ted Baker of Auckland University and the Maurice Wilkins Centre has won the prestigious Rutherford Medal for 2006.

The Rutherford Medal is New Zealand’s highest award for an exceptional contribution to the sciences and technology, and is administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand. Ted noted that “…in presenting the medal to me, the [New Zealand Science and Technology] Minister mentioned the synchrotron and its importance.”

Prof Baker pioneered structural biology in New Zealand with his study of the structure and function of proteins. His research has spanned investigation of kiwifruit enzymes, milk proteins and the tuberculosis bacterium.

Image: Professor Ted Baker

International Advisory Committees

The International Machine Advisory Committee and the International Scientific Advisory Committee visited Melbourne in the last week of November to review progress. They were, as usual, impressed with the quality of the project.

Australian Synchrotron operator

Negotiations are continuing with the preferred tenderer for the role of operator of the Australian Synchrotron, ANSTO/Worley Parsons Joint Venture.

Visitors to the Australian Synchrotron

  • During November, the Australian Consul-General based in Chicago visited the Australian Synchrotron during his mid-term leave.
  • The Hon Chris Pearce, Parliamentary Secretary to the Federal Treasurer, visited on 10 November for a briefing and site tour hosted by Monash University.
  • Senator Mitch Fifield and Senate candidates visited the synchrotron on 17 November for a briefing and site tour hosted by Monash University.
  • Senator the Hon Nick Minchin, Commonwealth Minister for Finance and Administration, also visited the synchrotron for a briefing and site tour at the invitation of the University of Melbourne.



Lorne Cancer Conference 2007
8–10 February 2007, Erskine on the Beach, Lorne, Vic
including AAMRI-sponsored symposium on imaging with synchrotron radiation on Friday 9 February, 2pm


For additional information and listings, see: http://www.lightsources.org/cms/?pid=1000068

Laue 2007
Advanced Laue Diffraction in Frontier Science

23–27 January 2007, Grenoble, France
Registration closes 15 November 2006

2007 National Synchrotron Radiation Instrumentation (SRI) Conference
25–27 April 2007, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

ICMAT 2007
International Conference on Materials for Advanced Technologies

1–6 July 2007, Singapore
Receipt of Abstracts: 31 January 2007
Prof Herbert Moser, Director of the Singapore Synchrotron Light Source (SSLS) and ICMAT 2007 Symposium ‘N’ Chair, has written a personal message encouraging Australian users to attend ICMAT 2007.

ICMAT is a bi-annual International Conference on Materials for Advanced Technologies which started in 2001 and has drawn more than 2500 registered participants in 2005. Traditionally, it includes public and plenary talks by Nobel Laureates and is structured in a number of individual symposia—there will be 18 in 2007. This is a major event in materials science which reaches a worldwide audience.

SSLS is organising the Symposium N on “Synchrotron Radiation for Making and Measuring Materials” which offers a forum for virtually any synchrotron-related work. It offers an excellent opportunity for Australian synchrotron users to attend, well-timed with the opening of the Australian Synchrotron facility.
VUV 15TH International Conference on Vacuum Ultraviolet Radiation Physics
July 29 – August 3, 2007, Konzerthaus Berlin, Germany

World Biomaterials Congress—2008
28 May–1 June 2008, Amsterdam, The Netherlands


News and recently published research assisted by synchrotron science

Synchrotrons Analyse Stardust Samples for Origins of Solar System

Particles returned to Earth last January by the Stardust spacecraft from comet Wild 2 are yielding precious information about the origin of the solar system, thanks to the brilliant x-rays produced at several of the world's synchrotron facilities.

Although the particles are tiny, the x-ray beams available at synchrotrons can be even smaller, enabling researchers to illuminate the cometary material and in some cases determine the distribution of elements within the particles without damaging them. These results describe the overall composition and chemistry of the samples returned by Stardust, and are published as part of a special series of papers in the 15 December 2006 edition of the journal Science.

Our solar system is about 4.5 billion years old, and the details of its origin are still a mystery to researchers. Scientists theorise that large, interstellar dust clouds give rise to new stars and planetary systems. As these dust clouds collapse, a central star forms surrounded by a rotating disk of dense gas. The planets of our solar system probably coalesced from one of these disks.

Wild 2 is believed to have originated within a cloud of comets just beyond the orbit of Neptune called the Kuiper Belt. Because Kuiper Belt objects spend most of their time far away from the Sun, researchers suspect they remain unchanged by radiation, heating and aqueous alteration and may therefore carry intact material from the earliest ages of the solar system.

The cometary samples were collected from the comet Wild 2 by the Stardust spacecraft, which travelled 2.88 billion miles during its 7-year odyssey before returning to Earth. Stardust returned about one microgram of cometary dust, the largest particle about 10 microns or a tenth of the diameter of a human hair.

The Stardust samples revealed the presence of new materials not previously found in meteorites. The chemical analysis of the Stardust samples could therefore improve our understanding of the chemistry of the early solar system.

The researchers also discovered that the samples contained minerals similar to compounds in meteorites known to form at high temperatures. These compounds are believed to have been formed in the innermost part of the solar nebula, well inside the orbit of Mercury. This discovery challenges the belief that comets are formed only beyond the orbit of Jupiter, and suggests that these cometary materials must have somehow been transported to the edge of the solar system where Wild 2 formed. The results also suggest that the materials that formed our solar system underwent considerable mixing as the sun and planets formed.


Image: In an experiment using a special air gun, particles shot into aerogel at high velocities leave carrot-shaped trails in the substance. Source: http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/photo/aerogel.html
"We have taken a pinch of comet dust and are learning incredible things," said Stardust principal investigator Donald Brownlee, a professor at the University of Washington and lead author of one of seven reports in Science about the mission's initial findings.

The diverse techniques needed to study the returned cometary material required the use of six synchrotron facilities around the world. Two European teams used the European Synchrotron (ESRF) in Grenoble, France, to carry out experiments on a total of 7 samples. The minute size of the samples and their entrapment deep within slices of aerogel made the brilliant x-rays produced by synchrotron light sources ideal for peering into the particles.

Due to the penetrating nature of the x-ray beams, the elemental distribution along the tracks could be mapped without removing the particles from the aerogel. Thus, crucial information was obtained which will be of use to subsequent researchers who wish to study the same particles.

Participating institutions included the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France; the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, USA; the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, USA; the Advanced Light Source in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA; the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory, USA; and Spring-8, Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute.

More at: http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.html.
Source: http://www.esrf.fr/news/pressreleases/stardust

Bones at the Nanoscale

Scientists have seen with x-rays how bones resist strain thanks to their nano and micro structure.

Scientists from Max Planck Institute (Germany) and the ESRF (France) have just discovered the way deformation at the nano-scale takes place in bone by studying it with synchrotron x-rays.

This study explains the enormous stability and deformability of bones. The results were published in the November online edition of PNAS.

A bone is made up of two different elements: half of it is a stretchable fibrous protein called collagen and the other half is a brittle mineral phase called apatite. This structure makes bone able to sustain large strains without breaking, despite being made of essentially rigid units at the molecular level.

In order to understand how this construction is achieved and functions, scientists used synchrotron x-rays to see for the first time the simultaneous re-arrangement of organic and inorganic components at micro- and nano-scale levels under tensile stress.

The scientists realised that when strain/pressure is applied to a bone, this is absorbed by soft layers at successively lower length scales, and less than a fifth of the strain is actually noticed in the mineral phase. The soft structures form a single rigid unit at the next level and so on, enabling the tissue to sustain large strains. This is why the brittle apatite remains shielded from excessive loads and does not break.

The results also showed that the mineral crystallites are nonetheless very strong, capable of carrying more than twice the fracture load of bulk apatite. Their small size preserves them from large cracks. This is the first experimental evidence for this effect in biomaterials—small particles resist failure better.


Diagram: The yellow cylinders denote the mineralised collagen fibrils in longitudinal section, and the red tablets denote the mineral apatite crystallites embedded within the collageneous matrix of the fibrils. Credit: Himadri Gupta/Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces. Source: www.esrf.fr/news/pressreleases/bones
The experiments were carried out at the European synchrotron (ESRF) using an x-ray beam of 200 microns wide by 40 microns high. Scientists tracked the molecular and supramolecular rearrangements in bone while they applied stress using the techniques of x-ray scattering and diffraction in real time.

The results provide new insight into the design principles that make healthy bone so fracture-resistant. The research may contribute to medical as well as technological developments.

“The outcome of this research may contribute to a future development of bio-inspired and new nano-composite materials. On a medical level, it may help to understand how a molecular level change can make whole bones more prone to fracture in diseases like osteoporosis”, explained Himadri Gupta, first author of the paper.

Further research aims to reveal how the design principles differ in bones with different mechanical function and how they may be affected by age and disease.

Reference: Himadri S. Gupta, Jong Seto, Wolfgang Wagermaier, Paul Zaslansky, Peter Boesecke, and Peter Fratzl, “Cooperative deformation of mineral and collagen in bone at the nanoscale”. PNAS Early Online Edition, 6-11 November 2006.

Source: http://www.esrf.fr/news/pressreleases/bones


A list of Australian Synchrotron Project personnel can be found at /content.asp?Document_ID=129.
Email: contact.us@synchrotron.vic.gov.au

City office
Level 17, 80 Collins Street, Melbourne, Vic 3000
Within Australia, 03 9655 3315
International: +61 3 9655 3315

Site office
800 Blackburn Road, Clayton, Vic 3168
Within Australia: 03 8540 4100
International +61 3 8540 4100
[Please note that the facility is in commissioning phase and is not open to visitors]

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