You are here

Diamond light source/Synchrotron

Harwell science laboratories, Didcot, Oxford

Well, with a bit of social engineering (I replied to an email about an open day :o) I managed to get into the Diamond light source in Didcot where they have the largest synchrotron/particle accelerator in the UK.

The site under construction.

The idea is that electrons travelling at close to the speed of light give off a type of radiation and intense light which can be focused and directed, similar to a laser beam (but many orders of magnitude more powerful).
This can then be used to study materials using refraction and studying the patterns created.

The first thing we visited was one of the beamlines, this one used for the studying of crystals and their structures:

The scientist did manage to break this huge robot by running it into a wall from home...

As it was all X-Rays, most of the hutches (rooms) are off limits while it was operational and are lead lined, with "emergency beamline off" buttons everwhere (and a geiger counter just in case):

After this, we were taken to the small accelerator where they do the 2nd stage of the acceleration.

The yellow brackets around the wall are used to make sure everything is perfectly level (even 0.5mm is a huge distance to an electron).

We were then taken out to the main storage ring which is a slightly more complex version of the smaller accelerator and needs to handle the "splitting" to the beamlines, as well as making sure it is polarised.

All this was housed in a large toroidal building, but was still very industrial inside:

My apologies if the photos are blurred, but most were taken on the move...

Sadly, most of the rest of the site is WAY of limits, due to the nuclear licensed Harwell laboratories :op