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New Zealand boosts efforts in Synchrotron research and capabilities

Above image: A aerial view of the Australian Synchroton in Melbourne, Australia. Credit: Australian Synchroton Facebook Page.

New Zealand will invest AU$15.1 million in a programme to construct several new beamlines at the Australian Synchrotron[1] in Melbourne and secure long-term access for Kiwi scientists, Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith announced today.

“The Synchrotron is a powerful experimental tool that plays an important role in lifting the quality and impact of New Zealand research,” says Mr. Goldsmith.

“Accelerating charged particles such as electrons to near the speed of light, the Synchrotron enables fields of study that are diverse and far-reaching.

“AU$6 million will go towards the construction of new beamlines for the facility, and will be matched by the research sector through the New Zealand Synchrotron Group.”

A further AU$9.1 million will also be invested over the next nine years to secure preferential access to the Synchrotron for Kiwi scientists.

“The new Bio-SAXS beamline will be used to study things like proteins and viruses and will be a priority beamline for New Zealand researchers. It will give them access to new specialised techniques needed for high quality research and innovation,” Mr. Goldsmith says.

The research outcomes from the Bio-SAXS beamline will cover national research priorities ranging from the development of advanced biomaterials and biotechnologies, through to breakthroughs in medical research.

“Recently the Synchrotron helped New Zealand scientists develop a drug that could be used to treat multiple diseases such as cancer, stroke and hypertension. It has also been used for research into volcanic activity in New Zealand to help researchers better recognise any warning signs of an eruption,” Mr. Goldsmith says.

“This is a prime example of successful collaboration between Australia and New Zealand under the Science, Research and Innovation Cooperation Agreement signed earlier this year.

“The developments at the Synchrotron are an exciting opportunity for the New Zealand research community that will provide far reaching benefits to New Zealand.”

The design of the new beamlines is planned to start in 2018 with two beamlines becoming operational by the end of the year. In the second year two more complex beamlines will be developed. A synchrotron is a large machine (about the size of a football field) that accelerates electrons to almost the speed of light. As the electrons are deflected through magnetic fields they create extremely bright light.

The light is channelled down beamlines to experimental workstations where it is used for research (see below for an illustration of the Australian Synchrotron).

Image credit: Australian Synchrotron

[1] The Australian Synchrotron is a world-class national research facility that uses accelerator technology to produce a powerful source of light – x-rays and infrared radiation – a million times brighter than the sun.

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