Light plays a vital role in our daily lives, and so do light-based technologies such as the Australian Synchrotron.

Andrew Peele

The International Year of Light 2015 proclaimed by the UN aims to promote improved public and political understanding of the central role of light science in the modern world. With this in mind, ANSTO and the Australian Synchrotron recently hosted a breakfast at Parliament House in Canberra attended by about 20 MPs and Senators and a number of luminaries from the national science community.

ANSTO Chief Executive Officer, Dr Adi Paterson, opened the event by highlighting how the Synchrotron establishes Australia’s credentials on the global stage as a technologically advanced nation. Nobel Laureate and skilled user of light-based technologies Prof. Brian Schmidt joined forces with Diabetes Australia CEO Prof. Greg Johnson to showcase the Synchrotron’s role in enabling new discoveries and solutions across all walks of life – a key example being recent Synchrotron discoveries that will help reduce the debilitating effects of diabetes, which costs Australia around $10 billion a year, and for which there is currently no cure. The Minister for Industry and Science Ian MacFarlane closed the event by reiterating his enthusiastic support and commitment for the Synchrotron.

As well as being an effective voice for engaging with government and community, ANSTO and the Australian Synchrotron offer Australia a powerful set of complementary scientific techniques for all manner of research and industrial development projects.

Over recent years examples involve improvements in mining and industrial processes (e.g. jarosite), cleaning up contaminated water, a better understanding of earthquakes and volcanism, more efficient and economical batteries and energy storage materials (e.g. lithium ion batteries), and even maintenance and repairs for essential Synchrotron equipment. Other researchers are using both facilities to examine major human diseases and health conditions, develop advanced materials for electronic applications (e.g. this recent paper), devise new methods for drug delivery (e.g. this recent paper) or investigate the origins of the ochres used in Aboriginal Australian artefacts.

Stories like this are abundant. If you need an example of how research benefits society, our websites (Australian Synchrotron; ANSTO) offer many more.

Andrew Peele
Director, Australian Synchrotron