LNLS - Laboratório Nacional de Luz Síncrotron

How synchrotron works

What is Synchrotron Light?

Source: Canadian Light Source and Diamond

A synchrotron is a source of brilliant light that scientists can use to gather information about the structural and chemical properties of materials at the molecular level.

A synchrotron produces the light by using powerful electro-magnets and radio frequency waves to accelerate electrons to nearly the speed of light in a storage ring.  The storage ring is a polygon, made of straight sections angled together with bending magnets. As the electron passes through each magnet it loses energy in the form of a very brilliant, highly focused light.

This light – different spectra of light, such as Infrared, Ultraviolet, and X-rays – can then be channelled out of the storage ring wall and into the experimental stations (beamlines) where researchers choose the desired wavelength to study their samples.

This tool can be used to probe the matter and analyze a host of physical, chemical, geological, and biological processes. Information obtained by scientists can be used to help design new drugs, examine the structure of surfaces to develop more effective motor oils, build smaller more powerful computer chips, develop new materials for safer medical implants, and help with the clean-up of mining wastes, to name just a few applications.