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Iran pushes synchrotron plans

Shamin Kharrazi talks about plans for the Iranian Light Source Facility

By Michael Banks

You may remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about Turkey’s plans to build a 3 GeV synchrotron in Ankara. In fact the next decade will see two other new synchrotrons springing up in the Middle East.

One – SESAME – is near Amman, Jordan, and I visited the facility earlier this week to hear how progress is moving towards completion by 2015 (see this story for more details).

Synchrotrons accelerate electrons to high energy and then make the particles generate flashes of X-rays as they travel around a circular ring. The X-rays are then sent down beamlines where they are used in a range of experiments from condensed-matter physics to biology.

However, a talk given by Shamin Kharrazi at the SESAME users’ meeting also outlined plans Iran has to build its very own synchrotron – the Iranian Light Source Facility (ILSF) – by 2020.

A conceptual design review for the 100 m diameter facility has just been completed and it is estimated that construction will begin by 2015.

Plans for the ILSF, like its Turkish equivalent, are still firmly on the drawing board, but researchers in Iran are hoping the facility will get funding. Kharrazi remarked that around seven years ago synchrotron radiation was not widely known to the authorities in Iran. Now, in a matter of only a few years, the country has plans for its own facility.

Indeed, over the past few years Iran has been building a community of those who could use their own national facility as well as SESAME. At times this has been painstaking and even involved researchers searching via Google for others around Iran who work with X-rays.

Kharrazi reassured SESAME users that Iran will still play an integral part in that project. “We think that by 2020 there will be enough demand for Iran to have its own synchrotron and also use SESAME,” says Kharrazi. “Just like France has the Soleil synchrotron as well as the ESRF.”

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