Funding boost for Australian Synchrotron

31 August 2017

The number of beamlines at the Australian Synchrotron will be increased from  ten to as many as 18, boosting research output at the facility. The expansion has been made possible by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (Ansto) securing AUD80.2 million ($63 million) in new funding.

Australian Synchrotron exterior - 460 (Australian Synchrotron)
The Australian Synchrotron (Image: Australian Synchrotron)

The funding comes from the New Zealand Synchrotron Group Limited (which represents funding from the New Zealand government and ten New Zealand universities and research institutes), the Defence Science and Technology Group, and 19 universities and medical research institutes across Australia.

Ansto said the first stage in the expansion of the Australian Synchrotron will be the construction of the Micro-computed Tomography (MCT) beamline and the Medium Energy XAS (MEX) beamline. The MCT beamline will complement the Imaging and Medical Beamline (IMBL) by allowing 3D structures to be studied in close detail. The MEX beamline will enable mapping of lighter elements such as sulphur, phosphorous, chlorine, calcium and potassium.

A Small Angle X-ray Scattering (BioSAXS) beamline will then be constructed at the facility, which will allow for detailed protein studies. The addition of this beamline will be funded by AUD25 million of funding from the New Zealand Synchrotron Group.

The funding for the beamline expansion will be supported by the Australian government's operational investment made via the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA). NISA provides AUD520 million in operational funding to the Australian Synchrotron, which includes operational funding for the new beamlines.

Arthur Sinodinos, Australia's minister for industry, innovation and science, said: "The Australian Synchrotron is one of our most important pieces of landmark research infrastructure, which on a daily basis delivers practical benefits across a variety of vital areas. This is applied science at its best, with applications for medical researchers, the environment and industry."

Ansto CEO Adi Paterson said the organisation had been working to secure more than AUD100 million in funding for the Australian Synchrotron. "This is a great first step and we look forward to continuing to work with industry and government to support the vitally important work of our scientists and researchers," he said.

Ansto will continue to work with universities and other stakeholders to secure the remainder of the required funding.

The Australian Synchrotron, in Melbourne, is a powerful electron accelerator. Since beginning operations in 2007, it has been used across a number of areas including: health, materials, minerals, manufacturing, food security, the environment, national security and energy. In 2006, New Zealand joined other shareholders as a Foundation Investor in the Australian Synchrotron, with each Foundation investor contributing AUD5 million towards the cost of building beamlines at the facility. The other Foundation Investors comprise various combinations of Australian state governments and universities.

The Australian Synchrotron and Opal Nuclear Research Reactor were identified as landmark facilities that will require ongoing investment in a draft National Infrastructure Research Roadmap released for public comment last December. The roadmap sets out Australia's national research infrastructure priority areas for the coming decade.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News