On Wednesday 16th of August 2017 seven DECV Students studying VCE Physics Unit 4 went on a guided tour of the Australian Synchrotron. There is only one Synchrotron in the Southern Hemisphere and we have it here in Melbourne!
The synchrotron looks like a giant doughnut, about 200m in diameter, without the icing. Complicated software, machinery and high powered magnets produces beams of electromagnetic radiation, from infrared, through visible light, to ‘hard’ X-rays. Electrons with energies as high as 3 billion electronvolts are accelerated around a huge ring to almost the speed of light. These charges are guided around a curved path by the magnetic field generated by powerful magnets. As they accelerate around the curve, the electrons give bursts of radiation. This synchrotron radiation is channelled down tubes called beamlines and utilised by researchers in a range of experimental stations.
Synchrotrons can be used as super-microscopes to reveal the hidden structures of fibres, chemical proteins and enzymes using powerful techniques, such as X-ray diffraction. Synchrotrons improve imaging techniques, and enable scientists to distinguish features of matter up to 1000 times smaller than currently possible. Experimentation and research has been conducted using the Australian Synchrotron in the following fields: medical research (microbiology, disease mechanisms, high resolution imaging and cancer radiation therapy), environmental sciences (toxicology, atmospheric research, clean combustion and cleaner industrial production technologies), minerals exploration (rapid analysis of drill core samples, comprehensive characterisation of ores for ease of mineral processing),advanced materials (nanostructured materials, intelligent polymers, ceramics, light metals and alloys, electronic and magnetic materials).
By ACR (DECV student)
A few highlights of the day:
- Two DECV students discovered that they both speak Spanish.
- Students used sophisticated equipment at the Synchrotron Labs and completed physics experiments.
- Students discussed with the teacher how to cope with stress at exams.
- Teacher’s car overheated on the way to the excursion, so she was late!
- Students learned how to ask clever questions.
- Students discovered what it is like to work at the Australian Synchrotron.
By Natalia Terikhova DECV Physics Teacher