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    The Synchrotron Radiation Center (SRC) of the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a national light source facility providing infrared, ultra violet, and soft X-ray light for use in research on exotic materials, ranging from high temperature superconductors and computer chips to cancer cells.  SRC provides an environment uniquely suited to the performance of seminal research, the development of new experimental techniques and instrumentation, and the training of scientists for the future.

    SRC Researcher
    SRC researcher examining instrumentation in preparation of performing experiments using light from the Aladdin Storage Ring.

    SRC offers a significant component of the highest performance, lower-energy synchrotron-light experimental stations in the U.S.  The capabilities of the facility have been continually improved, and, in particular, advanced instrumentation in polarized ultraviolet photons and rapid infrared imaging has been recently developed. 

    SRC Vault
    The "vault" containing Aladdin, the electron storage ring, and corresponding beamlines (click the above image for a larger version).

    These capabilities enable, for example, studies of:

    In addition, the education and outreach programs at SRC successfully bring knowledge and power of light source science to the wider national community through programs that include Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), Research Experiences for Teachers (RET), K-12 Activities, and public events.

    The results of SRC research are summarized in numerous research reports each year, including regular appearances in leading journals such as Science, Nature, and Physical Review Letters.  Over 400 scientific papers have been published under this cooperative agreement. 

    Scientific contributions include:

    1. High-definition chemistry with the InfraRed ENvironmental Imaging (IRENI) Facility at SRC

    Development of a chemically sensitive infrared imaging technique that will greatly expand the ability to examine biological structures with unprecedented resolution, and to track changes over minutes, marking a revolution in synchrotron-enabled science. The new system is the best of its kind in the world. These results allow scientists to identify the biochemistry of very small objects in tissue samples, such as single cells and membranes.

    SRC IRENI Image Comparison
    Images from the IRENI instrument (right) are 100 times less pixelated than in those from conventional infrared imaging (left). Using multiple beams from a synchrotron made the difference, providing enough light to obtain a detailed image of the sample.

    IRENI Beams
    The IRENI infrared beamline collects and focuses 12 beams of light from the SRC electron storage ring.  The image was taken in complete darkness tracing out a laser beam.  IRENI is the best instrument of this kind in the world.

     

    2. Disentangling the Charge Transport Mechanisms in Organic Semiconductors

    Explorations of organic semiconductors, which are promising candidates for novel electronic applications such as flexible computer displays, spray- or paint-on solar cells, and “printed” electronics, with mass production coming off  rotary printing presses rather than by the elaborate production steps currently involved in the fabrication of electronic circuits. Considering the much simpler manufacturing processes and their comparatively low environmental impact, solar cells based on organic molecules could be a key in solving the world’s energy crisis.

    SRC Pentacene
    Understanding electron charge transport through organic semiconductors is key in explaining why these materials such as pentacene are promising candidates for novel electronic applications such as flexible computer displays, spray- or paint-on solar cells, and “printed” electronics.

     

    3. Advances in electronic and magnetic devices

    Probing samples of materials such as chromium dioxide and lanthanum strontium magnesium oxide to study how they reacted magnetically on an atomic scale. This knowledge could lead to continued advances in electronic and magnetic devices in the area of magnetoelectronics, also known as spintronics. The benefits of research like this are inside every single hard disk drive, and understanding the magnetic properties of materials can lead to faster computers.

     

    4. Research Explores High-Temperature Superconductivity of Iron

    Expanded understanding of high temperature superconductivity, which has a huge technological potential with its zero electrical energy losses. Ultimately, this work can lead to room temperature superconductivity that will change completely the electricity and electronics industries, creating a revolution that can be compared to the semi-conductor revolution of the 1960s.

    SRC Superconductivity
    The discovery of superconductivity in oxygen free iron arsenic compounds created a new field of research full of various practical applications such as major improvements in electrical power efficiency. Shown is the symmetry of the superconducting gap seen for the first time ever in 2008 at SRC.

     

    5.Investigating Biomineral Strength at SRC

    Unraveling the mechanisms behind the strength of biominerals. Biominerals are widespread and diverse in nature with examples such as bones, shells, and teeth. These discoveries provide insights that may lead to artificially produced materials with exceptional physical properties.

    SRC Biominerals
    Biomineralization, the process through which living organisms form composites of organic molecules and inorganic minerals, often with surprising strength, has long garnered the attention of scientists from biology, physics, chemistry, and materials science.