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January 20, 2010

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Super X-ray machine, boon for science, gets OK

A MACHINE that can create super X-rays capable of exposing the complicated structures of chemical compounds and proteins passed the inspection of experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences yesterday and began to be put into public use.

The Shanghai Synchrotron Radiation Facility, or SSRF, is expected to greatly boost China's competitiveness in life sciences - and, in particular, medical research, said officials from the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the facility's key developer.

Officials said the facility, which has been in trial use since last May, is the nation's biggest platform for scientific research and technological development.

The machine already has been used in 395 high-tech projects, including projects to study the inner structure of cancerous cells and the development of cerebrovascular diseases.

"Such research will help find more efficient ways for early diagnosis of tumors," said Xu Hongjie, general manager of the SSRF project.

Officials said researches and projects completed in the trail run have already had significant results.

Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have used the machine to identify the respiratory system of locusts.

Their illustrations have won great international acclaim for progress in the life sciences.

Scientists also have discovered new crystal structures of a chemical compound and were using the machine to develop new anti-cancer drugs.

More than 1,000 scientists and engineers from 101 institutions, including universities, research institutes and hospitals, applied for 582 projects to be processed with the facility by December.

Those projects cover more than 10 academic fields, ranging from life sciences and chemistry to geoarcheology.

The 1.4 billion yuan (US$205 million) facility is located at Zhangjiang High-Tech Park in Pudong.

After 10 years of planning and another five years of construction, the project was completed on April 29.

The project encompasses seven beam lines and experimental stations, which enable hundreds of scientists and engineers to perform simultaneous experiments.

It uses state-of-the-art "synchrotrons radiation" technology to create the super beams by accelerating electric particles, whose brightness is hundreds of millions of times greater than a normal X-ray.


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