Harrow and Hillingdon Geological Society

Diamond Synchrotron

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Diamond is a third generation synchrotron taking over from the previous UK facility at Daresbury.
A synchrotron is a circular particle accelerator that works by accelerating electrons through sequences of magnets up to nearly the speed of light. The very bright light produced here (10 billion times brighter that of the sun) is used to study a wide range of properties and structures including nanoscience, solid state physics, protein crystallography and environmental and earth science. The intense light is produced predominately in the X-ray region but also in the UV and infra-red regions.
Diamond is a medium energy synchrotron producing a 3Gv electron beam and
has the potential to support over 40 experimental stations (beamlines).

A high voltage cathode (metal source) is heated under vacuum to give the electrons in the material sufficient energy to escape. The stream of electrons is accelerated by a sequence of particle accelerators until it becomes a stable beam in the storage ring. The first accelerator (the Linac) is used to accelerate the electrons to a relativistic energy of 100MeV.
The booster synchrotron is the second particle accelerator composed of two straight sections joined with semi-circular curves – here the electrons are guided around by 36 dipole magnets and reach the 3Gv energy level before being transferred into the storage ring which is over half a kilometre in circumference
The electrons circulate around the storage ring in an ultra high vacuum to preserve the useful life of the beam before being channelled into the beamlines.
Each beamline is composed of 3 sections, the optics hutch, the experimental hutch and the control cabin: most beamlines can support a range of experiments.

The majority of users are from academia with 10% from industry. Beamtime is free to researchers but a fee is charged for industrial use.

There were about 60 people at the open day. We first had an introductory talk about Diamond and then we were divided up into groups of 6 to go around the facility with a member of staff. We visited a lot of different parts, even being able to go inside a beam line that was not in use. One of the most interesting things was the presence of two giant ceiling-mounted cranes that could be moved above the synchrotron to enable the heavy concrete casing panels (necessary to prevent radiation) to be moved for maintenance.
The stability of the electron beam is key and the floor is specified to be stable to 1 micron over 10 metres per hour.
Periods of shutdown for essential machine works and to install new beamlines enable members of the public to attend the Open Days as otherwise the facility is working 24/7.

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