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TPU physicists to provide accuracy of the world’s most powerful synchrotron

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Tomsk Polytechnic University has signed an agreement on scientific cooperation with the Deutsches Elecktronen Synchotron (DESY), Germany – one of Europe's largest accelerator centers. Among the most important projects of DESY is the creation of the European X-ray Free Laser (European XFEL). The development will expand the capabilities of modern medical diagnostics – with its help you can investigate the slightest changes in body at the molecular level. The task of polytechnicers in the joint project will be to develop equipment for the continuous monitoring the diagnostic station parameters of European XFEL amplified beam, that will make the operation of the X-ray free laser as accurate as possible.

Scientists from Tomsk Polytechnic University and DESY have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which will expand the already existing collaboration between TPU physicists and one of the leading German accelerator center.

One of the major projects currently being implemented by DESY physicists is the creation of European XFEL.

According to the head of the TPU scientific group participating in the project, a leading researcher at the Department of Applied Physics Alexander Potylitsyn, X-ray and laser radiation is now used in modern medicine, but separately from each other. X-rays allow you to scan the patient's body, however superficially. It is impossible to see inside a biological object, for example, blood vessels near the heart. The problem of medical x-ray sources is related to their scattering processes in the objects, therefore, only a small part of energy reaches the targeted area of the body, significantly reducing diagnostic capabilities. In turn, laser is a focused energy flow, which is not dissipated. However, lasers can't penetrate the object thickness more than 30 cm, this radiation is of high temperature, there is a danger during its using to damage objects such as human body tissues.

"The idea of the European X-ray Free Laser is to combine the advantages of X-ray and laser radiation. The intensity and direction of X-rays will be focused, like laser. Thus, the flow will not be scattered, and X-ray diagnostic capabilities will increase by several times, – the scientist explains. – With the help of the X-ray free laser it can be conducted, for example, scanning on the molecular level and learnt how drugs affect cells in our bodies – which their components have a useful, and which, on the contrary, harmful effect".

This technology will be useful in materials science as well. For example, in studying properties of nanomaterials.

It is assumed that the European X-ray Free Laser will be the most powerful of the existing facilities of synchrotron radiation.

With it, you can get a X-ray monochromatic beam with energy up to 25 keV and an intensity greater than 10 orders of the intensity of synchrotron radiation on the most powerful source of such radiation – SPring-8 Storage Ring (Japan) to date.

"To get a powerful X-ray source, it is necessary to accelerate electrons to energy of 17.5 GeV in superconducting accelerator and run them through a special magnetic system – an undulator. The length of these superconducting accelerator modules is 3.4 km. They are now housed in a specially designed tunnel, their setting is run,"- says Alexander Potylitsyn.

In order to provide X-ray beam with required parameters, you need to control the characteristics of the accelerated electron beam with high accuracy.

For this purpose, physicists from Tomsk Polytechnic University proposed a new method for the diagnosis of such beams, and the leadership of a DESY's instrumental department adopted this proposal for an experimental verification. During joint experiments in 2011-2015 it was shown that the proposed method can be used to diagnose XFEL beams.

In 2017, with the participation of the polytechnicers it is scheduled to create a diagnostic station for continuous monitoring the parameters of accelerated electron beams.

In the memorandum the parties agreed on a joint research programme in 2016-2018.

The European XFEL project cost exceeds 1 billion euro and is funded by a consortium of a number of countries including Russia. The Russian contribution to the European XFEL is 250 mln. euro, the second after Germany.

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Kristina Nabokova
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