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Researchers at Oxfordshire's Diamond Light Source Synchrotron have signed on to collaborate on research with colleagues at the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory.

The deal, the latest in a series of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) between the two groups, paves the way for joint research projects and technical development.

Isabelle Boscara-Clarke, a spokeswoman for the Diamond Light facility told us: "It is an overarching agreement that will enable us to share information in an open manner. It is more about exchange of people, and fostering collaboration."

For example, she says, Diamond Light's staff have returned from a trip to Brazil. "Now, some of the scientists have forged relationships that we hope will be cultivated over the next few years. Hopefully the Brazilian team will visit us. But you can't have that kind of open collaboration without this agreement to kickstart it."

The deal sets out exactly how intellectual property can be shared, both in terms of research, but also the design and functioning of the facilities.

A synchrotron uses magnets to accelerate electrons to almost the speed of light, and focuses them into very precise beams of synchrotron light. The Diamond Light Source is some 10,000 times brighter than other facilities in the UK.

Professor Gerhard Materlik, chief executive of Diamond Light Source, commented: "Synchrotron science has developed rapidly in the past 20 years thanks to a very open, collaborative spirit among the community. It is a very positive move for us to be able to sign this MoU with the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory.

"It will enable us to combine expertise to accomplish significant scientific goals, develop common specialised knowledge and effective use of facilities and increase co-operation and mutual support between the two organisations."

Boscara-Clarke says that there are no specific scientific projects flagged for collaboration yet, but that there will be a workshop in September where those details will start to be hammered out.

The Oxfordshire facility switched on in January this year (2007). So far it has been open to the academic community. Researchers have used the facility to study proteins that are linked to cancer, the structure and composition of the Santa Catherina meteorite, and for several studies of magnetism. ®

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