Praise for crystallography team

According to Australian Life Scientist magazine: “Australia now boasts one of the most advanced synchrotrons in the world. The third-generation Australian Synchrotron in Melbourne is transforming proteomics, and the high-impact research papers are flowing.”

Under Extreme Pressure

About 2900 kilometres under our feet, at around 4000°C and more than 1.4 times atmospheric pressure, the Earth’s mantle mixes with the Earth’s molten iron core. Using synchrotron x-ray diffraction and diamond anvil cells at the ESRF, geophysicists have re-created these conditions and applied them to tiny mineral samples to verify the possibility that the Earth’s mantle is partially fused in this mysterious zone.

Black holes in outer space

The largest x-ray telescope ever built will be launched into space in 2021 to provide new information about black holes and the origin of the universe. Called the International X-ray Observatory, the telescope will follow preliminary studies by another international mission to be launched in 2013. The silicon wafers that will form the surface of the IXO mirror for detecting cosmic x-radiation from black holes are being tested at the BESSY II synchrotron in Germany.

AIDS drug could also combat herpes virus

A drug developed for treating AIDS may also be effective against the herpes virus, scientists from the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) have found. The researchers used a test-tube protein assay, a high-performance protein expression technique and the ESRF in Grenoble to obtain their findings.

Close to the bone

Detailed three-dimensional images of fragile bone structures can now be collected using a novel nano-tomography method developed by researchers using the Swiss Light Source. The team tested the technique on a mouse bone fragment just 25 micrometres across, narrower than a human hair. Their first nano-computed tomography (nano-CT) images appeared in Nature on 23 September 2010.

Measuring the risk

A method for determining how much of the arsenic in mine tailings might actually be absorbed by people who come into contact with the tailings has been developed by Canadian researchers using the National Synchrotron Light Source. Their bio-accessibility test involves a simulated digestive system complete with mock gastrointestinal fluids.

Towards lead-free electronics

Synchrotron techniques have revealed that a new synthetic material has the potential to replace lead-based ceramics in electronic devices such as inkjet printers, digital cameras, hospital ultrasound scanners and diesel fuel injectors. Concerns about the disposal of lead-based materials are driving the search for alternatives.