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June 18, 2011

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"Super X-ray" machine gets even better

THE second phase in the construction of a machine that takes "super X-rays" capable of exposing the complex structures of chemical compounds and proteins is expected to start later this year.

The machine will be capable of testing the hardness of materials, checking parts for China's jumbo jet project and detecting early pathological change in cancers.

Detailed plans for the second phase, with an investment of 1.68 billion yuan (US$259.2 million), will be sent to the National Development and Reform Commission in October for discussion and approval.

Construction is expected to be completed between 2016 and 2018, officials with the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said.

The first phase of the Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility - or SSRF - became available for use by companies and academic institutions in May 2009.

It is the nation's biggest platform for scientific research and technological development and has been used in 1,382 projects in the fields of information technology, protein research, nanotechnology, life sciences and environmental sciences.

Academic discoveries of international importance, such as new protein structures, have been achieved through the facility, officials said.

Many companies also use the SSRF for professional development in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries.

The facility in the Zhangjiang High-Tech Park in the Pudong New Area, uses state-of-the-art "synchrotrons radiation" technology to create super beams the brightness of which is hundreds of millions of times greater than a normal X-ray.

The second phase will add 24 beams to the apparatus.


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