Chinese light source facility accelerates first electron beam
Updated 11:14, 15-Mar-2023

The linear accelerator of China's high-energy synchrotron radiation light source successfully accelerated its first electron beam on Tuesday, its builder has announced.

The light source, the High Energy Photon Source (HEPS), is a major science infrastructure project in China built by the Institute of High Energy Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The construction started in June 2019 and is expected to take 6.5 years to be completed.

HEPS is like a supersized X-ray machine, with the ability to accelerate electrons to near the speed of light through three stages and generate synchrotron radiation, which features strong penetrability and a high level of brightness, thus helping researchers observe microcosms.

Three separate accelerators – a linear accelerator, a storage ring and a booster – form the main part of the HEPS. The linear accelerator, which is approximately 49 meters long, is the first-stage accelerator and can generate and accelerate electrons to 500 MeV. It has laid a solid foundation for the construction of the other two accelerators.

"If we compare the process of electrons in an accelerator to a trip in space, the linear accelerator can be seen as the ignition of first stage of the rocket. The electrons will gain initial kinetic energy," said Li Jingyi, deputy director of the high energy synchrotron radiation source accelerator division of the Institute of High Energy Physics of the CAS.

He said the electron beam will enter a next accelerator then, namely the intensifier, before eventually entering a storage ring. The storage ring is another accelerator which enables the electron beam to generate light. The high energy light source is a facility that produces light with very high energy.

"The higher the energy is, the more clearly we can see," Li said.

The HEPS is expected to become one of the brightest fourth-generation synchrotron radiation facilities worldwide after its construction is complete, and it will serve fields such as advanced materials, aerospace, energy, bioengineering, fine machining and biomedicine.

(With input from Xinhua)

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