The Swiss Light Source (SLS) started operating five years ago in Villigen, Switzerland. Since then, the facility at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) has been available for use by researchers from universities and industry. The SLS generates beams of light which are extremely fine and highly intensive. The facility acts as both a gigantic microscope and a multi-coloured micro-spotlight. It enables researchers to penetrate hitherto unexplored microcosmic depths. For example, it can help them decode the structure of proteins, or explore the characteristics of superconductors – and all at magnitudes of thousandths of a millimetre.
A successful tool for international science
In 2005, 830 researchers undertook a total of 677 experiments. These scientists mainly come to PSI from Switzerland, Germany, Italy and France; and they include biologists, chemists, physicists, environmental scientists and geologists. And still they come! Since the SLS went into operation with four beamlines, the rate of occupation has increased steadily. There are now ten beamlines in operation and they are so popular that the demand for measuring time outstrips supply several times over. By 2010, there should be eighteen to twenty beamlines in operation.
The SLS is the most advanced synchrotron light source in the world. The beam provided here is very brilliant and extremely stable, which gives better experimental results. This premium quality is based on new technologies that were developed at PSI and have frequently been copied since then. The construction of the SLS has already paid its way in the form of research published in scientific journals. According to Timothy Richmond winner of the 2006 Marcel Benoist Prize; “The SLS is one of the best facilities in the world, and has advanced my work”. Richmond is a Professor at the ETH in Zurich, and was honoured with the “Swiss Nobel Prize” for clarifying the structure of nucleosomes, the basic units of chromosomes.
Dr. Heinz Weyer | alfa
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