Large scientific facilities: the Alba Synchrotron

Large scientific facilities : the Alba Synchrotron

In the latest issue of RECERCAT, the newsletter of Catalan research, it was reported that researchers from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia will use the Alba synchrotron to study the materials used to paint the “Altar of St. Ursula and the eleven thousand virgins” a work of the fifteenth century that is exhibited at the National Museum of Art of Catalonia . This analysis will not only determine the origin of the pigments, but also what materials should be used today to preserve them. Furthermore, studies will highlight the relationship between different artists and schools, as well as the connection to the art of European regions in the fifteenth century. The research group of the UPC has already done ​​other similar investigations using the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, which is an infrastructure shared by the states of the European Union. But undoubtedly the existence of a synchrotron in Catalonia will be key to the investigation, since most of the advanced European countries (Germany, France, UK, Switzerland, Italy and France) have this type of facility.

Alba is a third generation synchrotron located in Cerdanyola del Vallès. It was designed in 1994, its construction started in 2003 and officially opened in March 2010. The planning of the works and their subsequent operation is carried out by the Consortium for the Construction, Equipment and Exploitation of the Synchrotron Light Laboratory ( CELLS ) , with co- funding from the Spanish and Catalan governments. Around the machine there are a collection of experimental research laboratories, called beamlines. Currently there are seven beamlines for a wide variety of experiments, such as Materials Science and Powder Diffraction, X-Ray Microscopy or Macromolecular Crystallography. The Alba team currently consists of about 160 dedicated engineers, scientists, support staff and technicians. The Alba Synchrotron and the CERCA Institute (Research Centers of Catalonia) have signed a collaboration agreement to regulate CERCA visiting researchers who develop long-term scientific and technological projects at ALBA.

On November 16th an open day will be held at the Alba synchrotron, as a part of the Science Week, organized by the Catalan Foundation for Research and Innovation. Registrations are now open.

Marta Alegret (Universitat de Barcelona)


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