Fun at the synchrotron!

I’ve just spent four days at Diamond, the UK’s national synchrotron facility in Oxfordshire, doing an experiment at Beamline I12, which is designed for Engineering, Environmental, and Processing experiments. We were investigating the synthesis and formation of a complex family of coordination polymer materials, which have potential applications in sensors and computing. My trip is being generously funded by the RSC.

Diamond sign

For anyone not familiar with what a synchrotron is, Diamond have saved me the task of explaining it with a great description here. Basically, it produces extremely intense light by accelerating electrons around a ring the size of a football stadium, and that light can be used to study materials, chemical processes and biological systems at speeds and resolutions that you can’t achieve in normal laboratory conditions.

Our experiment was really hard work, working around the clock in a team of 4 to set up, optimise and perform a series of synthesis reactions. It’s really, really  expensive to run a synchrotron, so you have to use all the time you get! But it’s an amazing facility that’s helped to achieve several notable scientific breakthroughs in the past and, after we’ve analysed all of our data, hopefully this will be one more experiment that pushes back the boundaries of knowledge…

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