UQ gets in sync with Australian synchrotron

13 Apr 2007

Researchers from The University of Queensland (UQ) will be at the forefront of new research possibilities with the signing of an agreement to use the soon-to-be-opened Australian Synchrotron in Victoria. 

UQ is part of a Queensland consortium of universities, which was one of the founding partners in the beamline consortium that will allow researchers to access an Australian-based synchrotron for the first time. 

The other partners in the Queensland consortium are the Queensland University of Technology, Griffith University and James Cook University who, along with the Queensland Government, have raised $5 million to become Foundation Investors in the facility. 

A synchrotron accelerates electrons to almost the speed of light and they are then deflected through magnetic fields to create extremely bright light. The light is channelled down beamlines to experimental workstations where it is used for research. 

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor David Siddle, said UQ researchers were very eager to start working at the Melbourne-based facility. 

“A number of UQ researchers are already doing world-leading research using facilities overseas,” Professor Siddle said. 

“Now they'll be able to do it in their own backyard, relatively speaking.” 

He said some examples of UQ synchrotron research included Professor Jenny Martin, from the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, who was working on chronic inflammation as well as the way adrenaline functions in the brain; and Associate Professor Ian Gentle, from UQ's School of Molecular & Microbial Sciences, who was studying lung surfaces with a view to helping premature babies breathe more easily. 

“UQ is pleased to be involved in the Australian Synchrotron from such an early stage, in what looks like being one of the most exciting research facilities ever built in this country,” Professor Siddle said. 

“Access to such a facility will be of enormous benefit to the growing Queensland biotech industry as well as the minerals industries, agriculture, advanced manufacturing, materials engineering, environmental technology and many other sectors.” 

Initial testing of the synchrotron is currently being carried out with the facility expected to be fully operational later this year.