The Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) on Sunday dismissed reports that its plans for the multi-crore ‘synchrotron’ — gigantic high-energy electron accelerator — had been scuttled.
The project was in limbo as it awaited a feasibility report.
There had been no communication from the Centre that the project was being called off, said D.D. Sharma, member of the expert committee formed by the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet to study the proposal’s feasibility.
The IISc. was, in 2010, given the go-ahead to submit a detailed feasibility proposal to the SAC-C.
The synchrotron, which has been proposed over a 100 acre space in Chitradurga, is a circular installation that operates roughly on the same principle as does CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. Charged particles are accelerated to move in an orbit at nearly the speed of light, generating electromagnetic radiation.
Synchrotrons are relied upon for a huge spectrum of research that ranges from experiments in scattering and diffraction to tests in imaging and spectroscopy.
“The expert committee is still active, and a meeting was convened by the Planning Commission just a few months ago to chalk out what is needed to acquire a very advanced research synchrotron,” said Professor Sarma, who is also professor at the Solid State and Structural Chemistry Unit at the IISc.
No country that considered itself scientifically advanced could afford to lack a synchrotron, Prof. Sarma maintains. “Today, Taiwan, South Korea, Brazil and China each have more than one facility.”
At the moment, India accesses synchrotrons abroad, including in Germany and Italy. Two synchrotrons in Indore are also used, although they are not considered “internationally competitive”.
“A synchrotron is a big investment, but India is not a small country and scientists here can’t afford not to have one,” said IISc. director P. Balaram. “It will have to eventually come up.”