What is a synchrotron?

A Synchrotron is a cyclotron wherein the strength of magnetic field increases with the energy of particles to maintain their orbital radius constant. It’s an incredibly powerful source of X-rays. These are generated by high electrons moving in a large circle of the synchrotron.

The whole world of synchrotron science is based on a physical phenomenon, i.e., a moving electron changes its direction emits energy. As the electron moves fast enough, the energy emitted is of X-ray wavelength.

How does a synchrotron work?

A synchrotron machine accelerates electrons at extremely high energy and then makes them change direction periodically. The resulting X-rays are emitted in dozens of thin beams, each directed towards a beamline next to the accelerator. The machine operates with periodic short and long shutdowns day and night.

Principal Structures


Storage Ring

The circumference of the storage ring is 844 meters where the electrons circle for hours. Very low pressure is maintained in the tube (around 10-9 mbar). As the electrons keep moving around the ring, they pass through different types of magnets and produce X-rays.

Booster synchrotron

It is a 300-meter long pre-accelerator. Here the electrons are accelerated by an energy of 6 billion electron-volts before being injected into the storage ring. The booster synchrotron works only a few times a day for a few minutes when the storage ring is refilled.


The electrons for the storage ring are produced here in an electric gun, a device similar to the cathode ray tubes found in computer screens.


The electrons that emit X-ray beams are directed towards beamlines that surround the storage ring. Each beamline is designed with a particular technique of research. Experiments over here run throughout the day and night.
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Practise This Question

Earth's magnetic field always has a horizontal component except at or Horizontal component of earth's magnetic field remains zero at