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$450,000 investment in Synchotron

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

$450,000 investment in Synchotron

Massey University has committed $450,000 over the next three years as part of New Zealand’s $5 million contribution to the Australasian Synchotron beamlines project.

The Synchotron will be based in Victoria, Australia, and is that state’s biggest ever investment in research and development infrastructure. The Victorian government, universities and research institutes are investing more than $20 million in the facility, which will be up and running in 2007.

Massey’s is the second largest contribution from a New Zealand university and makes up approximately 14 percent of the New Zealand consortium’s contribution. The New Zealand Government will make half of investment, with the rest coming from other universities, CRIs and industry.

A Synchrotron creates beams of extremely intense light (a million times brighter than the sun or conventional lab equipment) that can be used for many different types of research simultaneously. The high-energy light streams are directed through beamlines to carry out research in biotechnology, medicine, environmental sciences, agriculture, mineral exploration, materials development, engineering and forensics.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Judith Kinnear says New Zealand scientists have had difficulty gaining access to this leading edge technology internationally. It has been particularly difficult getting access for research training and for ‘rising star’ researchers, she says. The partnership with Australia will give Massey reserchers access to a very expensive facility for a moderate cost, resulting in enhanced research capacity, better postgraduate research training capabilities and help in attracting and retaining internationally renowned research staff.

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Professor Geoff Jameson, Institute of Fundamental Sciences, says access to the Synchotron will benefit many areas of research across the University. “It’s a truly multi-use piece of equipment. It will transform basic science and quite applied science as well. It can be used not just for blue skies research but also in fields like engineering and technology. Any process which needs light, the synchotron will do it better – from hard x-ray light through to infrared.”

Professor Jameson says areas of research where Massey will benefit include structural biology looking at milk protein structure and soil science. It could also be used in medical imaging in the veterinary school. He says it is very complimentary to Massey’s NMR and x-ray chrystallogaphy facilities. “This is an investment in the country’s long-term future. It can be used here and now, but it also anticipates future needs. It will create opportunties for new directions of research. It is pleasing to see the Government showing leadership with this future-focussed investment.”


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