Science Simplified: What Is an X-Ray Light Source?

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The Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory is an essential facility for scientific research, providing a powerful X-ray light source to study materials in detail. By offering a closer look at internal processes, such as in batteries, APS aids in technological advancements. With its significant upgrade, the APS will increase its brightness and research capability, continuing to contribute to global health, safety, and scientific progress. Credit: SciTechDaily.

What can be done with a light that bright? The APS works like a giant microscope, but unlike visible light, X-rays are penetrating, enabling scientists to see deep inside materials. The X-ray beams can be focused so tightly that scientists can use them to ​“see” what happens inside a battery during use, for example, so more energy-efficient versions can be developed.

At the heart of the APS is a storage ring, about two-thirds of a mile around. It’s so large you could fit a baseball stadium inside it. Its job is to circulate particles called electrons with high precision and at a consistent speed very near to the speed of light. Electrons travel around this ring many billions of times a day, releasing bright light at each bend in the track.

A powerful light source such as the Advanced Photon Source is similar to the X-ray machines dentists use, except the light it creates is a billion times brighter.

 

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