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Below you can watch a virtual tour of Diamond to find out more about our synchrotron and to meet some of our scientists and engineers.
Below you can watch a general introductory talk about Diamond Light Source, it lasts about 38 minutes and will give you a general overview of how the synchrotron at Diamond works and explains some of the science that is carried out.
To get a better idea of what it is like inside Diamond you are able to take a look around our synchrotron in 3D. We have two experiences you can try right now on the webpage, and if you have an Android phone and a VR headset (such as google cardboard) you can download a tour from Google Play and immerse yourself right inside Diamond.
By using the screen below you can take yourself on a complete tour of Diamond, from our front door, into the particle accelerator and on into the beamline laboratories.
To control the experience, use your mouse to look around. If you hover the white circle over an icon of a camera or an ABC it will open up more information about that area. When you want to move on to the next area just hover the white circle over the orange arrow in the purple circle.
If you want an immersive VR experience of Diamond the above tour is available to download for free as an app from the Google Play store. You will need a phone capable of downloading from the store (i.e. an Android phone) and a VR headset, such as Google Cardboard. To download the app go to the Google Play store and search for "SCIENCE TOURS VR". While on the app you need to listen to the audio to be able to move onto the next area.
Want to know more about Diamond, our scientists, the research that we do, and more? Submit your questions here.
Diamond uses around 6-7MW of power, about the same as around 2500 homes.
Diamond is jointly funded by UKRI:Science and Technology Facilities Council (86%) and the Wellcome Trust (14%)
Lots of research happens at Diamond and it is usually shared with the scientific community via articles in peer-reviewed journals. Diamond users publish over 1000 articles a year so lots of discoveries are made every month! We feature some research in the ‘Science Highlight’ section of our website and the most recent Highlight is all about Cystic Fibrosis and discovering more about the protein that causes this genetic disorder. The scientists behind this research investigated using nanobodies to stabilise this protein and therefore treat the disease. Have a read all about it here.
At the moment, all of Diamond’s research efforts are focused on doing everything we can to help the global effort against the outbreak of COVID-19. We are using our synchrotron and state-of-the-art technology to discover more about this virus, because understanding the biochemical and structural makeup of the virus is absolutely crucial for the development of drugs and extremely helpful for the design of vaccines. To make sure progress is made as fast as possible, we are not following the usual research pathway and waiting for the publication of papers about this research before releasing data. We are making results available and sharing information as early and as rapidly as possible to help inform the public health response and save lives. To explore the most recent discoveries about COVID-19 have a look at our dedicated website here.
The synchrotron at Diamond Light Source can be described as a cross between a giant x-ray machine and a super-powered microscope. It enables scientists to look at samples down to the atomic scale. Like many things in life, if you don’t know how something works you can't work out how to change it, or in the case of a virus, stop it from working. To find a vaccine or cure for a virus it is imperative to have as detailed a knowledge as possible of how it works at an atomic level in order to develop drugs that will stop it from infecting the body.
There are numerous benefits to using a synchrotron as the radiation source for such experiments. The high intensity of the radiation produced allows scientists to run rapid, but high quality, experiments. Together with our innovative use of automation technology, this allows a high throughput of samples with a high quality of data acquisition. In addition, the broad spectrum of radiation produced by the synchrotron and our ability to ‘tune’ this radiation for very specific purposes expands the capabilities of our crystallography beamlines.
To learn more about how we are helping the global fight against COVID-19 have a look at our dedicated website here.
When operational the synchrotron is on 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. For 1 day a week we have 'Machine Development' time, this is when various teams get the chance to make minor modifications/improvements. There are also longer shutdown periods of just over 3 weeks, 4 times a year. These shutdown periods allow bigger improvements to be made to both the storage ring and the beamlines.
When objects start to travel at very high velocity the traditional Newtonian laws of physics that we generally use to understand the world around us start to break down and we see surprising things happening to time and space. These effects were described and explained by Einstein when he developed his Special Theory of Relativity in 1905.
One of the effects we see is that as things increase in velocity they effectively increase in mass. So as our electrons get faster they get more massive, so you need more energy to make them go faster still, which in turn makes them more massive and more energy is needed etc. If you plotted a graph of velocity against mass you would see a curve that headed towards the speed of light, but won’t actually get there, to do so it would have infinite mass, which in turn would take infinite energy to get there.
The equation for this is:
(Mass of moving electron = Mass of electron at rest / √[1 – (Velocity of the electron)2 / (Velocity of Light)2] )
This may look complicated, but the crucial thing is the ratio at the bottom, the one between the velocity of the object and that of the speed of light. At any speed you do get more massive, even when you walk along the street. But at the speeds we are used to in everyday life the increase in mass is so tiny it’s not noticeable, but at really fast speeds these relativistic effects start to become important. For example the mass of a race car travelling at 200mph would only increase by 0.0000000000045% or about 33 billionths of a gram, so generally we can pretty much ignore these effects. But when you get to 99% of the speed of light then the mass increases by over 700% i.e. our electron becomes 7 times as massive, so it becomes an issue.
For more details this is a good place to start https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_in_special_relativity
Diamond uses around the same amount of energy as 2500 homes.
The electrons in the storage ring travel at 99.999% of the speed of light, and the revolution frequency is 533.8kHz. In other words, the electrons travel around the storage ring 533,800 times in a single second.
The beams themselves are beams of light, mainly in the x-ray region but this depends on the beamline and experiment. This therefore means that the beams travel at the speed of light, and that the frequency of the beams varies along with the desired wavelength for a given beamline/experiment.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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