The facility’s ultrabright X-ray beams will turn off for a year to enable a comprehensive upgrade, one that will light the way to new breakthroughs
BY ANDRE SALLES | APRIL 17, 2023
With the start of the construction period, the Advanced Photon Source is now only a year away from re-emerging as a world-leading X-ray light source. Its brighter beams will lead to new discoveries in energy storage, materials science, medicine and more.
After years of planning and preparation, the team behind the APS Upgrade project will now spend the next 12 months removing the old electron storage ring at the heart of the facility, replacing it with a brand new, state-of-the-art storage ring and testing the new ring once it is in place. The team will also build seven new experiment stations, construct the needed infrastructure for two more and update nearly every existing experiment station around the APS ring.
This is an extensive project, representing an $815 million investment from DOE. When complete, the APS will re-emerge as a world leader in global hard X-ray synchrotron science, enabling unimaginable new discoveries. Science conducted at the APS will lead to longer-lasting, faster-charging batteries, more durable airplane engines and better treatments for infectious diseases, among many other discoveries.
“The APS Upgrade is not only an investment in the facility’s future, but in the next 25 years of advancements that will change the way we power our vehicles, harness renewable energy and learn more about the fundamental science that underpins our future technologies.” — Linda Horton, associate director of science for Basic Energy Sciences, U.S. Department of Energy.
“This is a significant day for Argonne,” said Argonne Director Paul Kearns. “The APS Upgrade will transform the future of science for America and the world. Once we safely complete construction, the APS will shed new light on how the brain works, develop materials to decarbonize our economy, refine quantum technologies that can power the internet of the future and answer many other questions in numerous other disciplines.”
When it’s complete, the X-ray beams generated by the upgraded APS will be up to 500 times brighter than those of the current facility. These brighter beams will allow scientists to peer more deeply inside materials, track the movements of ions inside batteries and trace the path of energy through extremely small microelectronic chips.
“What an exciting time for everyone who works on and uses the APS,” said Laurent Chapon, associate laboratory director for Photon Sciences at Argonne and director of the APS. “The scientists who conduct research at this facility, and our staff who collaborate on and support that research, contribute to innovations that affect our everyday lives. We look forward to seeing what discoveries will happen using these new capabilities.”
Upgrading the APS is a complex endeavor, one that requires hundreds of people to complete. Many of those people have already been working on this project for close to 10 years. The new storage ring is made up of 1,321 powerful electromagnets, thousands of power supply units and a thin, but lengthy vacuum system that connects everything together. It will need 32 miles of power cable, eight miles of diagnostic cable and 20 miles of optical fiber. It will be assembled in sections at an offsite location near the Argonne campus and then transported to the existing APS facility. All together, the storage ring will be about 2/3 of a mile around and will weigh about 6 million pounds.
“After nearly a decade of design, construction, assembly and testing, we are ready to implement the upgrade of this great facility,” said Jim Kerby, APS Upgrade project director. “We know that the APShas been an important part of many scientific breakthroughs over the last quarter century, and we want to get the next era of science at the APS underway as quickly as possible. Our plan is to complete the work in one year, with the safety of everyone working during this period our top priority.”
For more than 25 years, the APS has been one of the most productive X-ray light sources in the world. Research at the APS has directly contributed to two Nobel prizes and has led to new insights across many scientific fields. Most recently, scientists working at the APS helped to develop Paxlovid, Pfizer’s approved treatment for COVID-19.
“The APS has a rich history of scientific achievement,” said Linda Horton, associate director of science for Basic Energy Sciences at DOE. “The APS Upgrade is not only an investment in the facility’s future, but in the next 25 years of advancements that will change the way we power our vehicles, harness renewable energy and learn more about the fundamental science that underpins our future technologies.”
The upgraded APS is scheduled to return to operation in 2024. For the latest on the project, please visit aps.anl.gov/APS-Upgrade.
About the Advanced Photon Source
The U. S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory is one of the world’s most productive X-ray light source facilities. The APS provides high-brightness X-ray beams to a diverse community of researchers in materials science, chemistry, condensed matter physics, the life and environmental sciences, and applied research. These X-rays are ideally suited for explorations of materials and biological structures; elemental distribution; chemical, magnetic, electronic states; and a wide range of technologically important engineering systems from batteries to fuel injector sprays, all of which are the foundations of our nation’s economic, technological, and physical well-being. Each year, more than 5,000 researchers use the APS to produce over 2,000 publications detailing impactful discoveries, and solve more vital biological protein structures than users of any other X-ray light source research facility. APS scientists and engineers innovate technology that is at the heart of advancing accelerator and light-source operations. This includes the insertion devices that produce extreme-brightness X-rays prized by researchers, lenses that focus the X-rays down to a few nanometers, instrumentation that maximizes the way the X-rays interact with samples being studied, and software that gathers and manages the massive quantity of data resulting from discovery research at the APS.
This research used resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a U.S. DOE Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357.
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.