Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East
|Established||16 May 2017|
|Research type||Synchrotron light|
|President||Christopher Llewellyn Smith (as of May 2017[update])|
|Location||Al Balqa, Jordan|
Jordan Atomic Energy Commission
The Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East (SESAME) is an independent laboratory located in Allan in the Balqa governorate of Jordan, created under the auspices of UNESCO on 30 May 2002.
Aimed at promoting peace between Middle Eastern countries, Jordan was chosen as the location for the laboratory, as it was then the only country that maintained diplomatic relations with all the other founding members; Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority, and Turkey. The project was launched in 1999 and the ground breaking ceremony was held on 6 January 2003. Construction work began the following July, with a scheduled completion date of 2015. However financial and technical infrastructural obstacles forced the project to be delayed. The laboratory was inaugurated on 16 May 2017 under the patronage and presence of King Abdullah II.
The project cost around $90 million, with $5 million donated each by Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Iran and the European Union. The rest was donated by CERN from existing equipment. Jordan became the greatest contributor to the project by donating land and building construction costs, and by pledging to build a $7 million solar power plant, which will make SESAME the first accelerator in the world to be powered by renewable energy. The annual operational cost of $6 million are pledged by the members according to the size of their economies.
The facility is the only synchrotron radiation facility in the Middle East and is one of around 60 in the world. As of May 2017[update], the president of the SESAME Council (since 2008) is Christopher Llewellyn Smith, the chair of the ITER Council and a former Director-General of CERN. The first president of SESAME council (2004-2008) was Herwig Schopper, the former CERN director general. Khaled Toukan, the chairman of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission, was a former vice-president of SESAME.
A synchrotron is a particular type of cyclic particle accelerator, where the goal is to accelerate electrons around a fixed loop, rather than colliding them. This process emits a powerful light – a synchrotron light – that can be utilized to study the properties of different materials that range from viruses to exotic semiconductors. It has several applications in the fields of biology, chemistry and even archaeology. As of 2017, there are around 60 such light sources in the world.
CERN, also known as the European Organization for Nuclear Research, was established by UNESCO in 1954. It aimed to develop cooperation between European countries following the end of World War II hostilities. The scientists who came up with the idea of SESAME were inspired by the success of CERN, and they proposed the idea to promote regional peace through science just after the 1993 Oslo Accords, an Israeli–Palestinian peace process. The scientists created a self-appointed Middle Eastern Science Committee, which convened its first meeting in November 1995 in the Sinai, Egypt.
Jordan was chosen as the location for the laboratory, as it was then the only country that maintained diplomatic relations with all the other founding members; Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority, and Turkey. The original plan for SESAME was to re-use the former facility BESSY I, which was previously decommissioned in Germany. However, in 2002, scientists decided that a new concept was to be developed. BESSY was dismantled and shipped to Jordan, and became the first stage of a powerful and new 2.5 GeV storage ring. In 2003, King Abdullah II of Jordan directed his government to donate land in Allan, 30 km (19 mi) north-west of Amman, for the project.
Deaths and delays
Dr. Masoud Alimohammadi and Dr. Magid Shahriari, two Iranian members of SESAME, were killed in two different terrorist attacks, for which an Iranian prosecutor accuses the Israeli Mossad in 2010. The roof of the laboratory collapsed during the 2013 Middle East cold snap due to heavy snowfall, which led to delays.
Although the current facility has space for seven light beams, there are only two now. The first beam is an X-ray beam that will be used to study pollution in the Jordan Valley, among other things. While the second beam provides infrared radiation for a microscope that would study biological tissue; including cancer cells. The rest are planned for later, with the third beam, an X-ray source used for crystallography, slated for late 2017.
The project cost around $90 million, with $5 million donated each by Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Iran and the European Union. The rest was donated by CERN from existing equipment. Jordan became the greatest contributor to the project by donating land and building construction costs, and by pledging to build a $7 million solar power plant; this will make SESAME the first accelerator in the world to be powered by renewable energy. The annual operational cost of $6 million is pledged by the members according to the size of their economies.
In an interview published in 2009, physicist Herman Winick noted the name SESAME was coined to refer to door opener, the spice (which is often associated with the Middle East), and the children's television show, and the meaning Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science Applications in the Middle East formulated to match the acronym.
The machine works in four stages.
The booster synchrotron receives electrons from the microtron, and accelerates them to 800 MeV, for injection into the storage ring. The booster was created with parts from the German synchrotron facility BESSY, which was decommissioned in 1999.
The storage ring accelerates electrons to 2.5 GeV, and keeps them circulating for as long as two hours. As the electrons go around the storage ring, they emit x-rays. Lost energy is replaced as the beam travels through radio frequency cavities along the ring.
X-rays from the storage ring are directed to beamlines, where research experiments are performed.
- BASEMA (Beamline for Absorption Spectroscopy for Environmental and Material Applications ), a beamline for X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy, the ‘day-one’ beamline to be ready in March/April 2017
- EMIRA (ElectroMagnetic Infrared RAdiation) for IR (Infrared Spectromicroscopy), is the second ‘day-one’ beamline, in this case that to start operations in April/May 2017
- SUSAM (SESAME USers Application for Materials Science) or Materials Science (MS), to be completed at the end of the third quarter of 2017
- MX (Macromolecular Crystallography), the beamline to be completed in 2019
- Soft X-ray Beamline
- SAXS/WAXS (Small Angle and Wide Angle X-ray Scattering)
- Tomography Beamline
- Shukman, David (26 November 2012). "Sesame synchrotron is a flash of unity in Middle East". News: Science and environment. BBC.
- "Landmark Jordanian science centre hopes to bring scientists from Iran, Israel and Palestinians together". The Independent. 16 May 2017. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
- "SESAME: A New Accelerator Of Science And Middle East Peace". World Crunch. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
- "Presidents/Vice-Presidents of Council". SESAME. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
- Dennis Overbye (8 May 2017). "A Light for Science, and Cooperation, in the Middle East". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
- "A particle accelerator in the Middle East". The Economist. 24 December 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
- Murdered Iranian scientist linked to UNESCO, Channel 4 News, 29 November 2010
- Man pleads guilty to assassinating Iranian nuclear scientist, The Guardian, 23 August 2011
- Sigfried, Tom (2009), "SESAME opens doors to international collaboration", Science News, Washington, DC: Science News Service (published 17 January 2009), 175 (2), p. 32, retrieved 8 May 2017
- "Schematic overview of SESAME" (PDF). Retrieved May 9, 2017.
- "SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) continues to make good progress towards operation in 2015" (PDF). Retrieved May 9, 2017.