Diamond Light Source hosts synchrotron school

Materials World magazine
19 Dec 2018

Sarah Macdonell of Diamond Light Source discusses the first Synchrotron School for Engineers event with Khai Trung Le.

Over 50 delegates attended the world’s first Synchrotron School for Engineers event, held at Diamond Light Source, UK, in a bid to support early career engineers and light source employees, and further encourage international collaboration within the synchrotron community.

The five-day event, organised by Sarah Macdonell and Stewart Scott, Joint Heads of Beamline Engineering at Diamond Light Source, addressed numerous topics aimed at providing a wide understanding of both the experimental techniques at Diamond, and the applications of that research. This ranged from defining systems requirements, system design and integration, CE marking, 3D printing applications, and specific technical issues including vibration, heat transfer and thermal stability. Macdonell told Materials World, ‘As an operating light source, we’re structured into numerous specialist groups, and trying to engage with all of them at the right time and awareness level can be a challenge, so we wanted to give delegates some experience of that.

‘We also looked at key aspects people might not have come across in other roles or if they had just graduated, such as cryogenics, thermal and vibration stability, and operating at ultra-high vacuum. These are key to working in Diamond Light Source.’

The event was specifically programmed to attract delegates globally. ‘There’s a lot of collaboration that goes on between the different facilities around the world,’ Macdonnell said. ‘We’re not like a commercial company that keeps everything secret. We help and support each other, and visiting another synchrotron and seeing how they solve a problem might enable you to come up with a better solution at your own facility.’

Macdonell also sought to help delegates establish their own networks, saying, ‘One of the key things was to help people build up a network. There’s a lot of collaboration between the different facilities around the world. I could sum up everyone’s objective as establishing a collaborative network.’

Early years

According to Macdonell, the engineering school concept had been persistently discussed internationally. ‘There have been talks throughout the synchrotron community for a number of years about an engineering school, part of that has come from the Mechanical Design of Synchrotron Radiation Equipment and Instrumentation (MEDSI) conference, but it’s never quite happened,’ she said. After canvasing interest at the 2018 MEDSI conference, and with support from Synchrotron SOLEIL, France, Macdonell said the event was able to be planned in earnest at Diamond Light Source.

Future Synchrotron Schools are being considered, and likely to be held at other synchrotrons around the world. McDonnell said, ‘There have already been conversations about organising a high-level engineering school, and we’re talking with the chairman of the MEDSI organisation about carrying this forward. Stewart and myself are keen to keep pushing, and make sure this doesn’t become a one-off.’

‘No beam for a while. Restart in about 20 months.’

The world’s first third-generation synchrotron, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), powered down its beam on 10 December 2018 after 26 years of operation to begin upgrading to a high-energy fourth-generation storage ring.

The 20-month shutdown that will involve dismantling its 844m-circumference storage ring, a double-bend achromay magnet, to install a new Extremely Brilliant Source (EBS) lattice within the existing infrastructure, a hybrid multi-bend achromay design developed within the ESRF. Four new beamlines will accompany the refurbishment of existing beamlines.

Francesco Sette, Director General of the ESRF, said, ‘Audacity and innovation underpin the history of the ESRF. With the construction of a brand-new storage ring, together with the most advanced portfolio of new beamlines, EBS will enable scientists to bring X-ray science into research domains and applications that could not have been imagined a few years ago.’