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Challenge #22

More light with accelerator physics.

Synchrotron sources, the Swiss army knives of research: They generate extremely bright light pulses and provide insights down to the smallest atom. To generate synchrotron light with even higher brilliance, we are working on components that become superconducting.

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Synchrotron radiation is a perfect tool to analyze rapid changes and extremely small structures in materials down to an atomic scale. The strong X-ray light used in synchrotron radiation is emitted by electron bunches orbiting at almost the speed of light inside a storage ring. Therefore, at the center of every synchrotron radiation source there is a particle accelerator which first must bring the electron bunches to the required energy.

In order to generate even more brilliant radiation for future research, our researchers are developing particularly powerful components known as cavities. Made of a superconducting material that conducts electricity without loss, these cavities are designed to generate extremely strong, high-frequency alternating electromagnetic fields in the interior that in turn shape the electron bunches and endow them with even more energy. However, to ensure that they remain in a superconducting state, these cavities must be cooled to minus 269 degrees Celsius, a process requiring the use of complex refrigeration equipment. In collaboration with international partner institutions, we are working on this large and challenging project.

(Header: HZB/Volker Mai)

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