From Director of the Photon Factory

Director, MURAKAMI, Youichi

The Photon Factory (PF) is a synchrotron radiation facility of the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK). We are operating two strorage rings, the 2.5 GeV PF ring and the 6.5 GeV PF advanced ring (PF-AR). The PF ring was constructed as a second-generation synchrotron radiation source and the first photon came out in 1982. During the intervening 33 years the PF underwent two large upgrades of the ring. In the 1997 upgrade the emittance was reduced from 130 nmrad to 36 nmrad. During the shutdown in 2005 the number of straight sections was increased from 10 to 14, among which 4 short straight sections were created and 10 straight sections were lengthened. In the long straight sections we have reconstructed Vacuum Ultra Violet (VUV)/Soft X-ray (SX) beamlines (BL-2, -13, -16, -28) with undulators in recent years. Meanwhile, we have upgraded the X-ray beamlines (BL-1, -3, -17) by installing short gap undulators in the short straight sections to gain long-term competitiveness in the field of X-ray science. On the other hand, PF-AR, which was originally the booster synchrotron of TRISTAN electron-positron collider, is now operated as a dedicated synchrotron light source with 6.5 GeV electron beam. PF-AR is operated in single-bunch mode, making it suitable for experiments that utilize the pulsed nature of synchrotron radiation, such as time-resolved experiments.

Using PF and PF-AR we are conducting a variety of synchrotron radiation experiments in material and life sciences as an Inter-University Research Corporation. The number of active proposals is more than 900 and has been increasing. The number of users is also increasing and has reached more than 3300. This indicates that there is a high demand for synchrotron radiation. About 30% of the proposals are presented by new spokespersons, demonstrating that the PF is open to external academic and industrial scientists. About three fourths of the PF users are affiliated to universities. Approximately 60% of the university users are graduate and undergraduate students; this indicates the important role that the PF plays in both research and education in universities. The PF users are distributed to all over Japan, indicating its immense contribution to Japanese research and education. Actually, more than 600 research papers and more than 100 master and doctor theses are registered in our database each year.

The PF is promoting inter-university collaboration to activate joint research projects. In particular, the Institute of Materials Structure Science (IMSS), KEK is pursuing joint research projects using synchrotron radiation, neutrons, muons, and positrons in collaboration with universities such as Hokkaido University, Tohoku University, Tsukuba University, the University of Tokyo, Kyoto University, and Osaka University. In addition to these inter-university collaborations we strongly support nanotechnology research and education in the Tsukuba area, namely the Tsukuba Innovation Arena for Nanotechnology (TIA-nano). TIA-nano is striving to build a global nanotechnology research and education center with the support of the government and is expected to serve as an engine of innovation. The PF is used as one of the Nanotech Open User Facilities to promote advanced nanotechnology research in the research collaboration domains of TIA-nano.

The PF is also promoting the international collaboration. The Australian beamline BL-20B was closed in March 2013 after completing its mission. For about 20 years (more than 3,000 days of experiments), more than 2,500 Australian researchers used this beamline and some 900 proposals were made. The beamline was actively used and about 1,000 papers were published during this period. This great success led to the construction of the Australian Synchrotron in Australia. We greatly appreciate all those involved with this beamline for their remarkable accomplishments. The Indian beamline BL-18B was established in 2009 after the Department of Science and Technology of India (DST) and KEK signed a Letter of Intent in July 2007, and both Indian and Japanese prime ministers welcomed it in a joint statement in 2007. The aim of this project is to provide a substantial amount of quality beamtime for the use of Indian scientists. BL-18B is conceived as a multipurpose beamline, allowing experiments on powder diffraction under extreme conditions, reflectivity and diffuse scattering from solid and liquid surfaces and interfaces and so on. This beamline was opened to general users in April 2014. We expect that further progress of this project will enhance the collaboration between India and Japan.

The PF participate in the large national project of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT): "Elements strategy initiative to form core research center", "Platform for Drug Discovery, Informatics, and Structural Life Science", "Photon and Quantum Basic Research Coordinated Development Program", "Cross-ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program", and "Impulsing Paradigm Change through Disruptive Technologies Program". The Photon Beam Platform is one of the government projects. In order to promote networking among cutting-edge fundamental research bases and encourage the use of synchrotron radiation and laser by industry, the MEXT established a new operation for the collaboration of synchrotron radiation and laser facilities. This platform consists of seven implementing facilities and one collaborative facility. The PF serves as an administrative facility in this platform. We expect users of this platform to open new research fields of industrial use through this unique collaboration of synchrotron radiation and laser facilities. This platform for innovation in many industrial fields will continue to play an important role in the decade ahead.

We hope that all PF users enjoy their experiments of synchrotron radiation and achieve world-class results in many scientific fields. Using synchrotron radiation we also continue to promote human development through the education in graduate courses in collaboration with many universities.

Director of the Phoron Factory, Youichi MURAKAMI