Judy Edwards

Judy Edwards

Former Minister for the Environment; Science

    WA invests $5million in Australian Synchrotron Project

    30/12/2005 12:00 AM

    The State Government has committed $3.75million in a joint Western Australian assistance package to the Australian Synchrotron Project.

    Science Minister Judy Edwards today said the University of WA and Curtin University had invested $1.25million toward the project, for a total State funding package of $5million.

    A synchrotron is a large machine (about the size of a football field) which accelerates electrons almost to the speed of light. As the electrons are deflected through magnetic fields, they create extremely bright light that is channelled down beam lines to experimental workstations, where it is used for research.

    Synchrotron light is used in advanced research and development in areas such as:
    • cell biology;
    • medical research in microbiology and disease mechanisms;
    • high resolution imaging and cancer radiation therapy;
    • environmental sciences for toxicology, atmospheric research, clean combustion and cleaner industrial production technologies;
    • plant genomics, soil studies, animal and plant imaging;
    • minerals exploration for rapid analysis of drill core samples;
    • advanced materials like nanostructure materials, intelligent polymers, ceramics, light metals and electronic materials;
    • high resolution imaging of cracks and defects in structures and the operation of catalysts in large chemical engineering processes; and
    • forensics for the identification of suspects from extremely small and dilute samples.
    Dr Edwards said the Synchrotron project, currently being built in Victoria, would put Australia at the cutting edge of science technology.

    “Our researchers currently have to travel overseas to use this advanced technology and that creates problems with cost, time and transporting biological samples across international borders,” she said.

    “Investing in an Australian facility will allow researchers access and give Western Australians a seat on the Council of Members for the Australian Synchrotron Company, allowing us a say in the future development of the facility to meet the needs of WA and national researchers.”

    The Minister said it was important for WA researchers to have access to the unique properties of Synchrotron, which included:
    • extremely intense light, hundreds of thousands of times more intense than that from conventional x-ray tubes;
    • a wide range of energies from infra-red light to hard, energetic (short wavelength) x-rays;
    • the possibility of obtaining an intense beam of any selected wavelength;
    • the synchrotron emitted highly polarised radiation, which could be linear, circular or elliptical; and
    • pulses emitted were typically less than a nano-second (one billionth of a second).
    Dr Edwards said she had written to Victorian Minister for Innovation John Brumby advising him of the State’s contribution to the project, which would provide more jobs and opportunities in WA.

    The synchrotron is due for completion in 2007.

    Minister's Office - 9220 5050