IISc. is setting up a synchrotron centre and an Intensive Talent Development Centre in Chitradurga.

The Indian Institute Sciences (IISc.) is in the process of undertaking a two-pronged initiative in its core areas: strengthen advanced scientific research, as well as promote scientific talent among teachers and students. And the activities will be focussed in Chitradurga district where it is making arrangements to set up its branch.

The IISc's huge stride in research and technology (R&D) will be in the form of setting up a synchrotron centre which will come up on around 100 acres of land in Challakere taluk. In a parallel move, it is setting up an Intensive Talent Development Centre with financial aid from the Karnataka Government. The Government has granted Rs. 2 crore for the centre and handed over 32 used government buildings for the purpose.

B.N. Raghunandan, senior scientist at IISc., who is spearheading the talent project, told The Hindu that the institute intends to offer special training to science teachers of high schools in the State. This is to help teachers, as well as students, know about the advancements taking place in the field of science and technology across the globe. For this purpose, the institute has decided to set up a full-fledged campus.

Dr. Raghunandan, who is also chairman of the Campus Development Committee, said that though the IISc. had been conducting such training programmes for 35 years in various districts, it had decided to set up a permanent campus in Chitradurga. The first batch of training is likely to begin in January or February. IISc. has paid Rs. 39 lakh as the first instalment to Deputy Commissioner Amlan Aditya Biswas for renovating the buildings.

The IISc. branch will undertake research work in the core sectors such as renewable energy, space science, aerospace, water resource technology, ecology and environment. This is expected to provide job opportunities for research students of various departments. According to an IISc. source, in the initial stages, the institute needs at least 150 scientists and nearly 1,000 research faculty.

What is a synchrotron?

Synchrotron is electron-accelerator to produce high-intensity light to study the structure of the atoms in matter. It is a powerful tool that enables scientists and engineers to probe the fundamental nature of matter.

?If I can put it in simple terms, a synchrotron is a device that produces light more than a million times brighter than sunlight,? said Chitradurga MP and alumnus of IISc., Janardhana Swamy.

The emerging beams are extremely fine, and are emitted in extremely short pulses, typically 10-100 picoseconds in length (a picosecond is a trillionth of a second). Mr. Swamy said that in the absence of a sophisticated synchrotron, Indian scientists were depending on Western countries that have such centres. ?It is not possible for our scientists to conduct intense research or testing in our country since we don't have such ultra-modern facilities.?

He said the synchrotron facility at Chitradurga will be accessible for general scientific and academic purposes.??A national facility means we don't have to rely on limited access to overseas facilities. We'll have a greater capacity to develop our own projects and provide local industry with dedicated, cutting-edge technology. And we'll give our own top scientists a better reason for staying in India, while attracting top researchers from overseas.?

The facility will help research the field of medical imaging equipment, aid drug discovery and research, develop therapies to treat cancer, and help to study the changes in living cells.

The powerful penetrating characteristics of synchrotron light also allow researchers to probe below the surface of electronic devices or to check the integrity of metal joining processes such as welding.

The centre can be built beneath or above the ground. Synchrotron facilities in Paris and the U.K. are above the ground, while a circular tunnel that also has protons and electrons clashing at speeds of light lie deep beneath the ground in Geneva covering an area of 27 km.

?The facility at Chitradurga will have some similarities with the one in Geneva. The latter deals with high-energy physics while the Chitradurga synchrotron will look at materials science, biology and the like. It will be in the range of 2.5-6 Giga electron volts,? said M. Vijayan, senior scientist at IISc., who is also the co-chairman of a national expert committee constituted to implement the project.

BARC centre

Also coming up in Challakere is a Special Material Enrichment Facility of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) where research students of atomic science will get opportunities to work. BARC has already purchased about 1,800 acres of government land for the purpose.

To see this project through, a few scientists conducted a survey of land at Ullarti and Kudapur kaval areas of Challakere taluk recently.

Another prestigious agency, the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), has acquired some 290 acres of land to set up an Unmanned Flying Test Centre here.