March 18, 2005  


New Light Source Web site Launched

By Matthew Early Wright

The home page

The international light source community launched the first Web site dedicated exclusively to advanced light sources last month., a hub of news releases and educational materials, will serve the media, the general public and the scientific community.

The site was developed by the Light Source Communicators Group, whose members represent synchrotron and free electron laser (FEL) facilities in Europe, North America, Australia and Asia. was conceived as a public information portal to raise the visibility of light source research worldwide, much as has served the same purpose for the high energy physics community.

One goal of the site is to give light source labs credit for breakthrough research. News about important research often focuses on the scientific user’s home institution. The connection to the light source lab itself can get diluted or completely lost in the process. The site will also provide access to advances in light source research and development.

Herman Winick (SSRL) believes the site will serve an important role in supporting light sources in the far-flung corners of the world. Nascent projects such as SESAME in Jordan, CANDLE in Armenia and an as-yet unnamed project in South Africa in particular will benefit greatly from access to the information has to offer, he says.

“We’re very interested in how the existing synchrotron community can work with projects in areas with little experience in particle acceleration and synchrotron radiation,” Winick added. “These places need a resource like”

Synchrotron and FEL facilities around the world regularly make significant contributions to science, technology and medicine. They provide a source of x-ray, UV and vacuum UV radiation millions of times brighter than other sources available. Synchrotron radiation is also an important source of high-quality infrared light.

Such bright light makes it possible to determine detailed atomic arrangements; for example, detailed three dimensional structures of proteins and viruses can be determined using x-ray diffraction. This can lead to a better understanding of how a protein functions, or how a drug can be designed to block virus replication.

Light sources can also collect detailed information about the electronic and magnetic properties of synthetic materials, such as semiconductors and polymers. In this way, light sources play a vital role in fields as disparate as biomedicine, physics, engineering, pharmaceutical design and environmental chemistry.

“Advanced light sources have caused a revolution,” Winick said. “Researchers can take data in minutes that they previously needed months or years to get.”

The launch of the site was announced in February at the AAAS meeting, which is typically well attended by journalists. Since heavily targets the media, Winick commended Neil Calder (COM) and others for scheduling the launch during this event.

“I’ve already received positive feedback from many people,” Winick said. “The site is a major asset to the synchrotron and FEL community.”

For more information, see:




The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Thursday March 17, 2005 by Emily Ball