- A new radiation project called SESAME in Jordan has emitted a ‘new light’ of single wavelength for the first time on November 22, indicating the start of the lab’s experimental programme and opening of a new area of research. According to a press release, the new light, which falls in the X-ray spectrum, can be used to carry out research “from solid state physics to environmental science and archaeology”.
How is the new light formed?
- SESAME stands for Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East.
- The synchrotron is a vast circular apparatus containing a ring of a 133-metre circumference (longer than a football field).
- Along the ring, beams of electrons travel at near-light speed.
- They circulate for several hours, completing millions of revolutions each second. As they circulate and get deflected by magnets in the loop, they give off radiation called synchrotron light.
- This light can be collected and used to study the properties of materials.
Why is it significant?
- The synchrotron light has better brightness and resolution than conventional X-ray or infrared sources.
- The light can be used to study new drugs for cancer therapy and study of cultural heritage like bio-archaeology (the study of our ancestors) and also for investigating ancient manuscripts.
- “We are…starting with an experiment to investigate heavy metal contamination… in the soil,” said SESAME scientist Messaoud Harfouche in a press release.
- “There is always an excitement when you see the first light from a new set-up.
- This new light can also be used for imaging of molecules and for dissociation studies (to understand splitting of a molecule into smaller molecules, atoms, or ions).
Who is behind the SESAME project?
- The project was officially opened in Allan, Jordan, in May 2017.
- It is a cooperative venture by scientists and governments of the region of CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research).
- It is West Asia’s first major international research centre with members from Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority, and Turkey.
- It was developed with the help of UNESCO.
- The SESAME is currently operating with a beam current of 80 milli amps while it is capable of up to 400 milli amps.
- The researchers are planning to gradually increase the current in the coming months and study its capabilities.