It will be in the range of 2.5-6 Giga electron Volts

If not for this gigantic circular machine, Nobel Laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, by his own admission, could not have solved his research problem on ribosomes. And last year, China made its single biggest science investment ($176 million) in this facility.

If the Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) has its way, the ‘synchrotron' — a high-energy electron-accelerator typically hundreds of metres in diameter and a tool used in several streams of scientific research — could soon be constructed on its new Chitradurga campus.

The institute has received an in-principle approval to prepare a detailed project proposal for the synchrotron, which will be operated through, and funded by, the Union Department of Science and Technology, said M. Vijayan, president of the Indian National Science Academy and Homi Bhabha Professor at IISc. The facility is likely to take up a 100-acre space on the 1,000-acre campus, said Professor Vijayan, who is also the co-chairman of a national expert committee formed by the government to examine the project.

In a synchrotron, electrons move at high speeds close to the speed of light through a circular tunnel generating bright beams of electromagnetic radiation, including intense X-rays that are used in both fundamental and applied sciences such as X-ray spectroscopic studies and diffraction studies in material science, and in protein crystallography.

“The facility will fill a huge gap in research infrastructure in the country. The absence of a next-generation synchrotron is beginning to bite,” he told The Hindu. “It is a vital tool for building scientific capability within the country rather than having to use such facilities elsewhere.” The synchrotron will be in the range of 2.5-6 GeV (Giga electron Volts). China's Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility, for instance, is 3.5 GeV.

A 2.5 GeV synchrotron, called Indus II, was being readied in Indore, Professor Vijayan said. “The new generation synchrotron in Chitradurga will upgrade the country's synchrotron facilities. We need at least two such facilities.”

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