The electrons that power Diamond are first fired from an electron ‘gun’, which works like the cathode ray tubes in old TV sets. Diamond accelerate theses electrons to 3 Giga Electron Volts (GeV), which is the same as moving them between the terminals of a giant 3,000 million volt battery.
The electrons travel at nearly the speed of light. They could travel around the world 7.5 times in one second and it would take them just over 8 minutes to travel to the Sun.
When the path of the electron beam is bent by Diamond’s powerful magnets, the electrons produce very intense X-rays, ultra-violet and infra-red light.
Using special magnets called Insertion Devices, we can tune the frequency and focus these beams further, to generate light up to 100 billion times brighter than the Sun.
- During construction over 2 million man-hours (or 1,100 ‘man-years’) were worked by the construction team.
- Over 2,100 tons of steel were used, equal to around 300 London buses and more than the London Eye (1,600 tons of steel).
- Over 35,000 m3 of concrete were poured, equal to 93 swimming pools.
- Diamond’s roof area is 33,000 m2, large enough for a Boeing 747 to drive around the inside of the building.
- Diamond’s floor area is 45,000 m2, almost 8 St Paul’s Cathedrals.
The UK made a huge contribution to international synchrotron light when, in 1981, we built the world’s first dedicated synchrotron, the Synchrotron Radiation Source (SRS) at the STFC Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire. In 1993 a report was commissioned by Prof Woolfson to assess the needs of the academic community. It was this report that identified the need for a new and improved UK based machine to supersede the SRS. The research and development programme began and then in 2002 Diamond Light Source Ltd was established – a 10 year dream for a new world-class synchrotron started to become a reality.
Construction of this new scientific facility began in early 2003 and Diamond became operational on schedule in early 2007. The Company is a Joint Venture funded by the UK Government through STFC (86%) and the Wellcome Trust (14%). Phase I investment of £250 million includes Diamond’s buildings and the first seven experimental stations or beamlines. Phase II funding of £120 million for a further 15 beamlines was confirmed in October 2004. The facility represents the largest UK scientific investment for 40 years and can ultimately host up to 40 beamlines.