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Cheshire's particle accelerator gets £2m cash injection

Putting Britian on the science map, DTI says

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Scientists and engineers developing a new prototype particle accelerator at Daresbury Lab in Cheshire, will get an extra £2m from the government, the DTI announced yesterday, to add to the £14.8m already ploughed into the scheme.

The goal is to develop a world-class scientific research facility that will enable scientists to "study molecules working in real time, follow chemical reactions as they happen, look at potential drug molecules as they interact with cells, and examine the spin of electrons", the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) says.

The funding will provide scientists working on the Energy Recovery Linac Prototype (ERLP) with the resources they need to test some of the theories that underpin the so-called 4GLS (Fourth Generation Light Source) technology.

The 4GLS proposal is on the cutting edge of science, according to science minister Lord Sainsbury.

"Its potential capability is unique in the world and its capacity to combine a wide range of experiments would establish the UK and Daresbury as a major player in this technology," he said in a statement.

If the accelerator gets the go ahead it will use a combination of ERLP and free electron laser (FEL) technologies to produce sources of synchrotron radiation and FEL radiation, ranging from THz frequencies to the soft X-ray end of the spectrum.

The particle accelerator will be used for research into molecular and device function, rather than further probing structures in a static state.

When it is up and running, the scientists say it will advance the state of the art in diagnosing some cancers and prion-based diseases. It will have applications in a huge range of sciences, including astronomy, atmospheric research, nuclear physics, and nanotechnology.

A decision on building the full 4GLS is expected within 18 months to two years. ®

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