Diamond Light Source is the UK’s synchrotron. It works like a giant microscope, harnessing the power of electrons to produce bright light that scientists can use to study anything from materials structures to microorganism to radionuclides in soil and wastes. The Diamond synchrotron is half a kilometre in circumference and designed to produce very intense beams of X-rays, infrared and ultraviolet light.

The Diamond synchrotron is half a kilometre in circumference and designed to produce very intense beams of X-rays, infrared and ultraviolet light.

Synchrotron light can be 10 billion times brighter than the sun. Electrons are accelerated up to very high speeds through a series of three particle accelerators (linear accelerator, booster synchrotron and large storage ring).

The storage ring is what gives Diamond its iconic doughnut shape. The storage ring is not a true circle, but a type of polygon made of 48 straight sections angled together with 48 bending magnets, and this magnetism is used to steer the electrons around the ring.

Third generation synchrotrons like Diamond also use arrays of magnets called insertion devices, which produce even more intense light. This light can then be channelled out of the storage ring and into the experimental stations, called beamlines. The beamline contains three different sections; the optics hutch, where the light is filtered and focused; the experimental hutch, where the sample sits and the experiment is carried out; and the control cabin.

The Diamond Light Source has >30 beamlines covering a wide range of techniques including X-ray diffraction/scattering, spectroscopy, tomography and micro focus techniques. See full list of beamlines here.