Scientists in Australia have begun experiments at the Australian Synchrotron this week in preparation for the facility’s opening in July. Located in Melbourne, the Australian Synchrotron is an AUD$206 million facility that will transform Australia’s scientific and industrial research capacity.
The Minister for Innovation, John Brumby, made the announcement while giving local and international journalists a sneak preview of the world-class research tool at Monash University.
“From this week scientists will begin undertaking the first experiments at the Australian Synchrotron which means for the first time light will be sent down beamlines onto samples,” Mr Brumby said.
Five of the nine beamlines are already installed with work continuing on the remaining four beamlines, which are due to be completed by the end of next year. The five beamlines in place are the ones for which there is highest demand.
They are: Protein crystallography: Crucial for drug design, for example development of the flu drug Relenza;
• Powder diffraction: Plays a key role in minerals research, helping improve ore processing;
• X-ray absorption spectroscopy: Particularly useful in developing advanced materials such as new alloys or semiconductors;
• Soft x-ray science: Has resulted in new developments in industrial coatings, such as self-cleaning windows.
• The infrared beamline: This will help advance IVF technology and provide new techniques for forensics.
Mr Brumby also announced the appointment of Professor Robert Lamb, formerly Head of the School of Chemistry at the University of NSW, as the first Science Director of the Australian Synchrotron.
“Professor Lamb has significant experience in commercialising scientific research and technology services, and holds 31 patents, so he combines a drive for scientific excellence with an entrepreneurial understanding of the needs of industry,” Mr Brumby said.
He said the Australian Synchrotron heralded a new era of national collaboration in science and technology.
“The Australian Synchrotron has attracted more support across the whole spectrum of national science than any other project in Australia’s research history,” he said.
Five state governments, 25 Australian universities, Australia’s medical research institutes, CSIRO, ANSTO and New Zealand have come together to fund this research platform that will underpin our innovation competitiveness and grow the businesses and jobs of the future.