Swiss Light Source

The Swiss Light Source (SLS) at the Paul Scherrer Institut houses a machine called a synchrotron that produces extremely bright light for scientific research. In designing the SLS, a high priority was given to quality (high brightness), flexibility (wide wavelength spectrum) and stability (very stable temperature conditions) of the primary electron beam and the secondary photon beams. It acts both as a giant microscope and as a multi-coloured micro-spotlight. It allows researchers from industry and academia to delve into previously unexplored reaches of science: for example, it can be used to decode the structure of proteins or to investigate the characteristics of superconductors – and all this happens at sizes down to one millionth of a millimetre!

With an energy of 2.4 GeV, it provides photon beams of high brightness for research in materials science, biology and chemistry.

What does one do with Synchrotron Light ?

Synchrotron light is electromagnetic radiation, with wavelengths ranging from infrared and ultraviolet to hard X-ray. It is generated inside a facility where magnets are used to maintain electrons travelling at the speed of light on an circular trajectory, from which they emit photons or synchrotron light. Many experimental techniques available at the SLS are only possible at a synchrotron. These techniques take advantage of the extremely bright and tuneable nature of the light produced at the SLS and thus provide critical tools for the investigation of structural and chemical compositions of a wide range of materials from the atomic to the cellular levels.