Section 5.2: Canadian Light Source
Identify members of the CLS Education Team and understand what their role is in the TREE program.
What is the Canadian Light Source?
The Canadian Light Source (CLS) is Canada's only synchrotron and is located at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The CLS is a world-class, state-of-the-art facility that is advancing Canadian science, enhancing the competitiveness of Canadian industry, and contributes to the quality of science around the world. The CLS produces extraordinary light that is millions of times brighter than the sun and researchers from all over the world and from vastly diverse fields of study use this light to study the physical structure and chemical composition of various materials and specimens. The four main areas of research at the CLS are agriculture, environment, health, and advanced materials.
What is a Synchrotron?
A synchrotron produces light by accelerating electrons close to the speed of light by using powerful devices called radio frequency cavities and electromagnets. In order to reach the proper energy that we need to produce light, the electrons (subatomic particle with a negative charge) travel in our booster ring where energy is continuously added to them. Once the electrons are at the energy level we want, we push them into a bigger storage ring where they stay, circulating the ring. Since electrons want to travel in a straight path, every time they are curved to move around the ring, the electrons give off energy. The energy that they emit is a beam of light that includes a distribution of light energies which is referred to as the electromagnetic spectrum (Figure 4). This spectrum of light is directed down beamlines (see Figure 5) where researchers choose the specific type of light to study their samples. At the CLS, we primarily use Infrared, Ultraviolet, and X-ray light types.
A beamline is a line of equipment that accepts the light spectra (plural form of spectrum) from the synchrotron and changes the light to have the specific energy and brightness that the scientist wants. Beamlines are attached to the synchrotron to direct the synchrotron light towards endstations or small laboratories where researchers conduct their experiments. For the TREE program, we will be using the IDEAS beamline which uses hard X-rays to study matter. For further information on the various beamlines at the CLS, visit this link: https://www.lightsource.ca/facilities/beamlines/where-to-start.php.
Researchers observe the interaction between the light and matter in their sample at the end stations. These processes are used to interact with matter, gather information, and analyze a number of physical, chemical, and biological processes. The information obtained by scientists can then be used to help design new drugs, examine the structure of surfaces to develop more effective motor oils, build smaller and more powerful computer chips, develop new materials for safer medical implants, help with the clean-up of mining wastes, and much more.
What is the Role of the CLS in the TREE Program?
The Education Team at the CLS will be conducting the delivery and the administration of the TREE program with the assistance of the MAD Lab. The CLS Education Team has also developed educational resources and activities that will help guide individuals through the TREE program and conduct meaningful learning. The CLS Education Team, along with the IDEAS beamline, will also facilitate the elemental analysis of the tree core and soil samples using the IDEAS beamline with the assistance of MAD Lab team members.
What is the IDEAS Beamline?
Recall that a beamline is a line of equipment used at the CLS where scientific research is conducted. IDEAS is an acronym for Industry, Development, Education, Applications, Students and this beamline provides quick access for educational programs, industrial clients, and in-house CLS research and development of synchrotron research. The IDEAS beamline (schematic shown in Figure 7) is capable of examining the elements between phosphorous (atomic number 15) and mercury (atomic number 80). Further information on the techniques IDEAS uses is provided in Module 6. For more information on the IDEAS beamline, visit the website: https://ideas.lightsource.ca/
How is IDEAS Helping with the TREE Program?
The IDEAS beamline will be analyzing elements in the soil and tree core samples. For the tree cores, the IDEAS beamline will examine the elemental changes within each tree ring using a technique called X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) Line Scans. With this technique, which is described in much further detail in Module 6, we will be able to see what elements are present and absent in each of the rings. For the soil, the IDEAS beamline will use another XRF technique but as we are not able to compare the soil from various years do to soil mixing, we will not be able to know the elemental changes over time. However, the IDEAS beamline will still be able to tell us what elements are present in the soil samples and your students can use this data to help make connections to their tree data. The next module will cover data interpretation from both the MAD Lab and the CLS.
Additional Resources for Section 5.2
Canadian Light Source: https://www.lightsource.ca/
The Webpage of the Canadian Light Source. Here you will find information about the various beamlines, what kind of research is conducted, who helps make this research possible, and so much more. Be sure to check out our CLS Education website (https://www.lightsource.ca/education) where there is information on the various education programs at the CLS and explanations of the synchrotron.
IDEAS Webpage: https://ideas.lightsource.ca/
Webpage for the IDEAS beamline that has an overview of the beamline, what it is capable of, and has a schedule with the allocated beamline shifts. The TREE program uses this beamline and the schedule will give a sense of when we will be testing samples. Be sure to contact the CLS Education Team if you have further questions.