virtual symposium recording was delighted to welcome over 500 attendees to our live virtual symposium to mark the 75th Anniversary of the first direct observation of synchrotron light in a laboratory. The event, which was chaired by Sandra Ribeiro, Chair of and Communications Advisor for the Canadian Light Source, was held on the 28th April 2022 and you can watch the recording via the YouTube link below.

We received some lovely feedback after the live event, including this comment from Jeffrey T Collins at the Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois.

 “I have worked at the Advanced Photon Source for over 32 years and I learned many things during this event that I never knew before.  It was quite informative.  I look forward to re-watching the entire event.”

Jeffrey T Collins, Mechanical Engineering & Design Group Leader at Argonne National Laboratory

The symposium began with a historical introduction from Roland Pease, freelance science broadcaster who has been an enthusiastic support of light sources for many years.

Roland’s talk was followed by experts from the field giving talks on their perspectives of synchrotron light related achievements that have been made since the 1st laboratory observation on the 24th April 1947.

Speakers were:

• Nobel Laureate Prof. Ada Yonath (Weizmann Institute of Science)

• Prof. Sir Richard Catlow (University College London)

• Prof. Henry Chapman (DESY)

• Dr Paul Tafforeau (ESRF)

• Dr Gihan Kamel (SESAME and member of the AfLS Executive Committee).

There followed a panel discussion with special guests who all made huge contributions to the development of the field. Our special guests were:

Herman Winick – Prof. of Applied Physics (Research) Emeritus at SLAC)

Ian Munro – Initiator of synchrotron radiation research at Daresbury Laboratory ,Warrington UK in 1970

Giorgio Margaritondo – one of the pioneers in the use of synchrotron radiation and free electron lasers

Gerd Materlik – former CEO of Diamond Light Source, the UK’s synchrotron science facility is hugely grateful to all the speakers, special guests and attendees who contributed to this event and made it such a special anniversary celebration for the light source community.

If you have any feedback or memories to share, please do contact Silvana Westbury, Project Manager, at

For news, jobs, events and proposal deadlines, please visit the homepage

Giorgio Margaritondo’s #My1stLight

Synchrotron Radiation from a Synchrotron

We must face reality: almost all synchrotron radiation users of today have never seen a synchrotron! As we know, what they call “synchrotrons” are really “storage rings”. Only a tiny minority of elderly, retired scientists worked at real synchrotrons – and were lucky to survive the experience. I am one of them. Indeed, the first time I used synchrotron radiation was in the 1970s at the 1.1 GeV “elettrosincrotrone” of the Frascati National Laboratory. Which in the 1970s was the source for our synchrotron radiation project “PULS”.

How was my experience? Miserable! Contrary to a storage ring, a synchrotron is a pulsed source in which electron bunches are continuously injected, accelerated and dumped. The bunches cause very dangerous radiation, so we could not work close to our experimental chamber when they travelled in the ring. This transformed simple operations into a nightmare. For example, a sample alignment that takes a few minutes at a storage ring required days or weeks — subsequent small adjustments being separated by hours of accelerator operation.

At Frascati, we were dreaming of using the excellent storage ring Adone instead of the synchrotron — but this happened only later. Personally, after months of misery I found a way out when I was hired by Bell Labs in New Jersey. Which, to my relief, was as far as possible from the synchrotron facilities of that time. But I could not escape my destiny: shortly after my arrival, Bell Labs asked me to start experiments at the Wisconsin Synchrotron Radiation Center! Fortunately, the source there was not a synchrotron but the storage ring Tantalus. I could thus appreciate the huge advantage over real synchrotrons. I am indeed convinced from experience that, without the arrival of storage rings, synchrotron radiation research would have died at birth.

Giorgio Margaritondo
Faculté des Sciences de Base, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
(EPFL), CH-1020 Lausanne, Switzerland

Image: The Frascati electron synchrotron, where my career in synchrotron radiation started and almost

The first direct visual observation of synchrotron light in a laboratory has created this short video to mark the 75th Anniversary of the first direct visual observation of synchrotron light in a laboratory. It’s release marks the start of our celebrations, which have been made possible thanks to contributions from our member facilities, guest speakers and members from our around the light source community.

Marking the 75th Anniversary of the 1st direct visible observation of synchrotron light in a laboratory

We are hugely grateful to all those who have taken the time to support our activities. On behalf of all the members, we hope you enjoy our celebrations, which will include:

The creation of a collection of achievements from across our 30 member facilities to be shared on the website and social media. Also, our #My1stLight campaign, which invites light source staff and external researchers to send in their memories of first encounters with synchrotron light. Visit our campaign page to find out more

A special online symposium to mark 75 Years of Science with Synchrotron Light took place on Thursday 28th April. You can watch the symposium recording here

Registration open for 75th Anniversary event on Thursday 28th April

We warmly invite you to join our free online symposium

– 75 years of science with synchrotron light –

to mark 75 Years since the 1st observation of synchrotron light in a laboratory

This anniversary event has been organised by, the international collaboration of 24 synchrotrons and 7 Free Electron Lasers, with support from Diamond Light Source, the UK’s synchrotron science facility.

On the 28th April 2022, we will bring together a panel of light source experts to give short talks on their perspectives on synchrotron light related achievements that have been made since the 1st laboratory observation on the 24th April 1947.  This virtual event will also explore what the future holds for synchrotron science thanks to upgrades and new facilities.

Through this event, we aim to inspire early career scientists, engineers, technicians, computer scientists, science communicators etc who are currently working, or may be interested in, light source related jobs in the future.

Register here: Celebrating 75 Years of Science with Synchrotron Light Tickets, Thu 28 Apr 2022 at 15:00 | Eventbrite

Where – Virtual event via Zoom  
When –   Thursday 28th April 15:00 – 16:15 UTC +1 (75 Years in 75 minutes!)
Format – A series of talks (10 mins each) covering the history and some of the highlights from the field followed by Q&A and time for sharing your #My1stLight memories.   

Speakers and agenda (all timings in UK time zone UTC+1)

Welcome & Introductions: Sandra Ribeiro, Chair of & Communications Advisor, Canadian Light Source

Historical introduction: From 1st observation to 2022 – Roland Pease, BBC presenter/freelance science writer/presenter

Highlights from the field

Professor Ada Yonath, Leader of the Ribosome Group, Structural Biology Dept, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

Prof. Ada Yonath (along with Thomas Steitz and Venkatraman Ramakrishnan) won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009 for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.  In 1968, she obtained her PhD from the Weizmann Institute of Science for X-ray crystallographic studies on the structure of collagen.  In the 1970s, Ada began a project that culminated in 2000 in the successful mapping of the structure of ribosomes, which consist of hundreds of thousands of atoms, using x-ray crystallography. Among other applications, this has been important in the production of antibiotics.  For enabling ribosomal crystallography, Ada introduced a novel technique, cryo bio-crystallography, which became routine in structural biology and allowed intricate projects otherwise considered formidable.  

Dr Gihan Kamel, SESAME’s Infrared Beamline Principal Scientist/Team Supervisor, on leave from the Physics Department, Faculty of Science, Helwan University, Cairo, Egypt, where she is a lecturer in biophysics.

In 2015, Dr Gihan Kamel took up the position of the Infrared Beamline Scientist at SESAME in Allan (Jordan). Gihan is also involved in the preparatory phases for the establishment of the African Light Source (AfLS). She is noted for her lectures on science for peace and science diplomacy, as well as women in science. Gihan was acknowledged at the International Women’s Day 2017 by the President of the Italian Republic for her engagement at SESAME. In 2020, she was indicated 2020 Laureate of Eureka Prize of the French organization, amcsti (The professional network of scientific, technical and industrial cultures).

Professor Henry Chapman, leader of the Coherent X-Ray Imaging division at the Center for Free Electron Laser Science at DESY in Hamburg

Henry Chapman pioneered Serial Femtosecond X-ray Crystallography, which, among other things, makes it possible to explore the spatial structure of sensitive biological molecules with atomic precision even under near-functional conditions. The first experimental proof that this technique works was provided by Chapman and his colleagues at DESY’s free-electron laser FLASH. Chapman has received many honours for his groundbreaking research, including the Leibniz Prize, an honorary doctorate from the University of Uppsala, and the Röntgen medal from the city of Remscheid, the birthplace of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen. Henry is a Fellow of The Royal Society.

Dr Paul Tafforeau, Beamline Scientist for BM18 and ESRF coordinator of the Human Organ Atlas project, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble

Usually in charge of palaeontology, but working now on human organs X-ray imaging on beamline BM18. Paul is part of The Human Organ Atlas project, an international team that has used HiP-CT to scan the organs of COVID-19 victims, including their lungs, brains. HiP-CT scans can zoom in from a whole-organ scan to provide a cellular view of regions of interest, giving a new insight to understand human diseases.

Professor Sir Richard Catlow, Department of Chemistry, University College London

Richard Catlow first became aware of the potential of synchrotron radiation for his science in the late 1970s when his research programme had a strong focus on disordered ionic materials—both halides and oxides—for applications in solid-state electrochemistry.  Today, his research exploits the latest developments in computational technology, used in direct conjunction with experiments (especially employing synchrotron X-ray and neutron scattering techniques). The aim is to model and predict the properties of complex materials at the atomic and molecular level and advance fundamental knowledge in the rapidly developing field of contemporary chemistry.  Richard was Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society from 2016 until 2021.