Lab Canada

First light achieved in CLS diagnostic beamline

Saskatoon, SK – January 13, 2004 – The diagnostic beamline at the Canadian Light Source recorded the first visible light from the research facility in mid-December – a milestone on the road to full operation expected sometime this year.

Staff scientists were able to see light captured by the first beamline – a diagnostic beamline that will be used to monitor the performance of the electron beam in the storage ring.

“We were absolutely elated,” says Dr Jack Bergstrom, senior scientific consultant and a U of S professor emeritus of physics who has spent the past three years working on the diagnostic beamline. “When the light popped out and you could see this little spot of light, you realized the system was performing exactly as you designed it.”

Dr Bergstrom and his three-member team transferred light from the storage ring into the diagnostic beamline and captured the images with cameras. They were able to record a greatly magnified image of the cross-section of the synchrotron light, as if one were looking straight into the beam.

He cautions that this is only the first step in a long commissioning process for the synchrotron and for the first suite of beamlines that will be built. Over the next several months, there will be a number of technical milestones leading up to full operation of the facility.

The diagnostic beamline is “like the thermometer you use to see if the baby is sick – its sole function is to monitor the function of the storage ring and to determine any ill behaviour of the stored electron beam,” he says.

He expects that he will shortly have much better images using a super-fast, $250,000 camera that can take stop-action pictures of the electrons in the storage ring. “I will be able to look at each individual ‘box car’ of electrons as they whirl around the storage ring,” he says.

On November 18, the electron beam was stored for one second (1.75 million revolutions) in the storage ring. The following day the beam was “stacked” to a current of four milli-amps and stored for 20 consecutive minutes.

Three days later, the booster ring was continuously operated for 6.5 hours, much longer than the couple of minutes needed to charge the storage ring when the synchrotron is fully operational. As well, the design goals for energy (2.9 billion electron volts) and current (20 milli-amps) were fully met, and the electron beam was so well aligned that magnets for correcting the beam’s orbit did not have to be used, though they will be used in future to refine the alignment.

The University of Saskatchewan-owned national facility is one of the largest scientific projects in Canada and one of the most advanced synchrotrons in the world.

Synchrotron light – millions of times brighter than sunlight – is used to view chemical reactions and the micro-structure of materials, paving the way for new drugs, more powerful computer chips, better engine lubricants, more effective medical imaging and a host of other applications for science and industry.