First stage of Sirius, Brazil’s new synchrotron light source, is completed
December 12, 2018
By Claudia Izique | Agência FAPESP – Brazil’s National Energy and Materials Research Center (CNPEM) in Campinas, São Paulo State, has completed the first stage of Sirius, the new Brazilian synchrotron light source. The 68,000-square-meter circular building with a height of 15 meters was unveiled on November 14, 2018, along with two of the facility’s three electron accelerators.
The electron beam is scheduled to enter the storage ring for the first time by mid-2019, and the first six experiment stations, known as beamlines, will be opened to researchers from all over Brazil by the end of the year.
Sirius is designed to be a state-of-the-art science facility and will be one of the world’s first fourth-generation synchrotron light sources. Among the 50-odd synchrotrons in operation worldwide, Sirius is comparable only to MAX IV, unveiled in June 2016 in Sweden. In the future, they will be rivaled by the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) situated in Grenoble, France, where an upgrade to the third-generation synchrotron is due for completion in a few years.
“Sirius will enable our scientists to do competitive research that can’t be done today in Brazil with the existing synchrotron or in several countries around the world that have access to similar technology,” said Antonio José Roque da Silva, Director General of CNPEM and head of Project Sirius since 2009, when he was appointed Director of the National Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS).
Like the synchrotron now running at LNLS, Sirius will be a national laboratory open to users affiliated with universities, research institutions and business organizations. Indeed, according to Roque da Silva, the first six beamlines, which include X-ray nanoscopy, coherent X-ray scattering and X-ray micro- and nanotomography, for example, were selected to meet demand for both “new science and advanced technology” and for the most frequently used technologies, including those required for progress in research in strategic fields such as oil and gas or health.
Synchrotron light is a type of high-flux high-brightness electromagnetic radiation encompassing a large proportion of the spectrum, from infrared through ultraviolet to X-rays. It is produced when a beam of charged particles accelerated almost to the speed of light is deflected by a magnetic field.
Synchrotron light penetrates matter and reveals characteristics of its molecular and atomic structure. The broad spectrum of this radiation enables researchers to use the most suitable wavelengths for the experiments they wish to perform (read more at lnls.cnpem.br/the-lnls/what-is-synchrotron-light).
The idea of building a new, more competitive synchrotron began to gestate in 2003 at the 13th Annual Meeting of LNLS Users (RAU), six years after the 1997 unveiling of the existing second-generation facility called UVX, the first in the southern hemisphere.
The world’s first second-generation facility, the United Kingdom’s Synchrotron Radiation Source (SRS), had been operating since 1981. This technological lag meant that the scientific research equipment installed at UVX had to be regularly upgraded for its 18 beamlines to meet the needs of more than 1,000 users per year.
Sirius, too, risked being out of date at birth. Design work began in 2008, when the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Association (ABTLus), which ran LNLS, obtained funding from the then Science and Technology Ministry (MCT, renamed in 2016 when it merged with the Communications Ministry) to conduct a concept study for the new facility.
The initial goal was to build a third-generation source, but LNLS’s international scientific committee, to which the project was submitted in 2012, recommended aiming at the level of brightness that would prevail in the future.
“It was a chance to leapfrog the competition,” Roque da Silva said. The LNLS team felt sufficiently challenged to redesign the magnetic lattice to reduce emittance to only 0.28 nm.rad, making Sirius one of the brightest synchrotrons in the world (the lower the beam emittance, the higher the brightness of the source). Six months later, the committee approved the project.
The next challenge was to obtain funding for Sirius, which was budgeted to cost R$1.8 billion by 2020. The main interlocutors were eight ministers of science and technology and later also of innovation and communications. Finally, the project was included in the federal government’s Growth Acceleration Program (PAC) as of 2016.
“Sirius succeeded because the project goes beyond science,” Roque da Silva said. “It has a science background but above all it’s a structuring national project. Besides science it will impact technology, innovation and business, contribute to the training of human resources – not just in Brazil – and open the doors to strong internationalization of Brazilian science, technology and innovation.”
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