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A major international center for scientific research in the Middle East, supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), recently was inaugurated in Jordan.
A major international center for scientific research in the Middle East, supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), recently was inaugurated in Jordan. The Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) center will allow scientists from the region to collaborate on advanced research projects. Over the last decade, the IAEA has facilitated the training of dozens of scientists to support SESAME and to help bring the region’s first particle accelerator online.
Synchrotrons are particle accelerators that produce intense light with properties similar to laser beams. Under controlled conditions, researchers can use this intense light to look at materials with great precision, and even at the structure of a single cell. They are used for advanced scientific research, including in synchrotron-based X-ray spectroscopy techniques, but also in a variety of applications.
SESAME is a joint venture involving governments and scientists. It will foster scientific and technological research in areas including biology, archaeology, medical, and material sciences. Current members are Cyprus, Egypt, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority, and Turkey. The center was inaugurated by King Abdulla II of Jordan in an opening ceremony in the presence of IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano.
The IAEA has provided extensive support to train staff at SESAME to safely commission and run the facility. The support included the training of 66 technical and scientific fellows in beamline technologies and more than 30 expert missions to SESAME to help build capacity in the installation and testing of equipment. The agency also provided networking opportunities for SESAME staff with experts from other synchrotron facilities in Europe, the United States, and Japan.
With two beamlines ready for use, SESAME has the capacity to house a total of 24 to cover different applications, and is now open to research proposals from its members. The facility is modeled on European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and was developed under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).