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Where Science Happens

In a synchrotron light source, such as Sirius, the beamlines are the research stations where experiments are carried out. The different experimental techniques available in this type of infrastructure allow observing microscopic aspects of materials, such as the atoms and molecules that constitute them, their chemical states, and their spatial organization, in addition to monitoring the evolution over time of physical, chemical, and biological processes that occur in fractions of a second.

In a beamline, it is also possible to follow how these microscopic characteristics are changed when the material is subjected to various conditions, such as high temperatures, mechanical stress, pressure, electric or magnetic fields, corrosive environments, etc., in the so-called in-situ experiments. This ability is one of the main advantages of synchrotron light sources when compared to other high-resolution techniques, such as electron microscopy.

In addition, synchrotron light sources contain several beamlines, which work independently of each other and are optimized for different experiments. This allows several groups of researchers to work simultaneously on different research projects.

More Brilliance for Science

In a synchrotron light source, the more intense and focused the light produced, the greater the detail that is obtained on the analyzed sample. These qualities define the brilliance of the light source. The brighter the light, the greater the quality and variety of research that can be carried out at its research stations. Thus, there is a constant search for the construction of increasingly more brilliant light sources.

Sirius stands out for having the highest brilliance among the synchrotron light sources in the world in its energy range. For this reason, it will allow experiments previously impossible in Brazil and, in some cases, worldwide.

In addition, this high brilliance will allow experiments that are done today to be greatly improved, either by reducing data acquisition time, improving the accuracy of the results, or increasing the number of samples that can be analyzed in a given time.

The First Beamlines

Named after Brazilian fauna and flora, Sirius’ beamlines are designed to house advanced scientific instrumentation, suitable for solving problems in strategic areas for Brazilian development. Initially, a set of 14 beamlines was planned to cover a wide variety of scientific programs.

Of these 14 beamlines, six are in an advanced stage of assembly, and are part of a first delivery phase. Next, another seven research stations will be built by the end of the project, scheduled to take place in 2021. In all, Sirius will be able to house up to 38 beamlines, six of which will be long beamlines, with lengths between 100 and 150 meters.

In addition to allowing extremely advanced experiments, Sirius will provide all the necessary infrastructure for researchers to carry out their investigations. To this end, support laboratories installed around the beamlines will meet the demands of users regarding the preparation and conditioning of samples, the execution of controlled chemical reactions, and the use of equipment that may not be available at the researcher’s home institution.

CARNAÚBA

Carnaúba (Copernicia prunifera) is an endemic tree in northeastern Brazil, symbol of the state of Ceará and popularly known as the tree of life. The name comes from the tupi karana’iwa, “tree of the caraná”.

The soil is a heterogeneous combination of organic and inorganic compounds, immersed in aqueous solutions and amidst plant roots. The chemical, physical and biological processes that take place there at the atomic and molecular level control the transport and availability of nutrients. Thus, knowledge of this region on the nanoscale is essential to achieve more efficient and sustainable agricultural production.

In the CARNAÚBA beamline, analyses of the most diverse nano-structured materials can be performed, aiming at obtaining 2D and 3D images with nanometric resolution of the composition and structure of soils, biological materials, and fertilizers, for example, in addition to other investigations in the areas of environmental sciences. This is possible because this will be Sirius’ longest beamline, 150 meters long. The large distance between the X-ray source and the sample allows to produce a synchrotron light beam with a focus of only 30 nanometers.

CATERETÊ

Cateretê, or white jacaranda (Machaerium vestitum), is a tree found in the southeastern and southern regions of Brazil.

Understanding problems related to life sciences and medicine involves the study of living beings on scales ranging from proteins and enzymes, active biological molecules and organelles, through cells, tissues and organs, to entire organisms.

The CATERETÊ beamline will be optimized for obtaining three-dimensional images with nanometric resolution of materials of different sizes, from a macromolecule, tens of nanometers in size, to the millimetric tissues in which the macromolecule is found. Thus, this beamline allows the investigation of the dynamics of biological phenomena at different scales.

One of the main characteristics of CATERETÊ is its coherent X-ray beam focused on a region of about 40 micrometers. It will make possible to obtain images of mammalian cells of dozens of micrometers, in three dimensions, in a non-destructive way and in a liquid environment, similar to their natural environment. This type of image has not yet been obtained by any other method in the world and will be produced for the first time in this beamline.

EMA

Ema (Rhea americana) is a flightless bird, native to South America and considered the largest Brazilian bird. The males of the species are responsible for the incubation and care of the young.

When matter is subjected to extreme conditions of temperature, pressure, or magnetic field, it can present new physical and chemical properties, for example, changing from conductor to insulator, from magnetic to non-magnetic, and vice versa.

The EMA beamline will make it possible to carry out experiments on samples of materials subjected to extreme conditions. The study of matter in these conditions allows investigating new materials with characteristics that do not exist under normal conditions. This is the case, for example, of superconducting materials, capable of conducting electrical currents without resistance, with the potential to revolutionize the transmission and storage of energy.

The simulated temperatures and pressures in this beamline, through heating by intense lasers and pressure cells with diamonds, can reach more than 8000 degrees celsius and pressures equivalent to twice the pressure at the center of the Earth, respectively. Magnetic fields, which will be applied by superconducting magnets, could reach almost 14 T. Such conditions are only possible in very small environments and can only be unveiled by a high-brightness X-ray beam, such as that produced by Sirius.

MANACÁ

Manacá-de-cheiro is the name given to the tree of the Solanaceae family, found in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. It is always surrounded by the manacá butterfly, an insect whose larvae only feed on the leaves of that plant.

When a molecule is identified as a therapeutic target, the investigation of its three-dimensional structure, that is, the position of each of the atoms that compose it, allows to understand its action in the organism and its interaction with drug candidates. In this way, it is possible to make the search for new drugs more efficient.

The MANACÁ beamline, through a technique called macromolecule crystallography, allows the study of the structure of human proteins and enzymes and pathogens with micrometric and submicrometric resolution, capable of guiding the development of potential new drugs or the understanding of the functioning of known drugs to increase their effectiveness. Information on the structure of proteins is important not only in ​​health, but also for the development of biofuels, pesticides, food, and cosmetics.

MANACÁ is especially dedicated to the new method of serial crystallography, which will allow the elucidation of the most complex protein structures, which cannot be unraveled by conventional crystallography.

MOGNO

Mogno, or Brazilian mahogany is the popular name for the species Swietenia macrophylla, native to the Amazon. It is a reddish-brown wood tree which currently exists only in difficult to access regions and in protected areas.

Brazil is a pioneer country in the exploration of oil in deep waters. However, a large amount of this fossil fuel is stored in the porous space of carbonate rocks, especially in the pre-salt layer. These rocks are very heterogeneous and have complex pore systems, which need to be well known to make oil and gas exploration more efficient.

The MOGNO beamline will be dedicated to obtaining three-dimensional tomographic images with micro and nanometric resolution. Internal structures of different materials can be studied in a non-invasive way, at different spatial scales, varying between hundreds of nanometers and tens of micrometers. In addition, it will be possible to subject the materials to different mechanical, thermal or chemical conditions and monitor changes in real time. Thus, MOGNO will allow detailed studies of complex phenomena such as, for example, the passage of fluids through the pores of the pre-salt rocks.

In addition, several other types of materials can be studied in this beamline: soils, fossils, materials for electronic devices, products of chemical reactions and biological samples.

IPÊ

Ipê is the popular name for several species of trees of the genus Handroanthus. It disputes the position of the Brazil’s symbolic tree with Pau-Brasil. Its name comes from the Tupi language and means thick bark tree.

When atoms come together to form solid and liquid materials, the interaction between their electrons can give rise to properties that are very different from the individual characteristics of each constituent element, and that define how materials transport heat, electricity, magnetism, sound, light, etc. The precise knowledge of these interactions helps the development of new technologies for information storage and transport, energy efficient electronics and many others.

The IPÊ beamline will be dedicated to studying the distribution of electrons in atoms and molecules present in liquid, solid and gaseous interfaces, and how it affects the properties of materials.

In this way, IPÊ will allow to probe how chemical bonds occur at the interfaces of materials such as catalysts, electrochemical cells, materials subject to corrosion, or even how the electric current propagates in different materials, from insulators to superconductors.

QUATI

Quatis are diurnal mammals of the genus Nasua, common from South America to southern North America. Quatis are known for the fact that females live in groups, while adult males are solitary.

Catalysts are substances used as facilitators of chemical reactions in practically all industrial processes that involve the transformation of primary products. The search for more efficient and more accessible catalysts impacts not only the economy, but also the environment and the quality of life of the populations.

This investigation, however, requires that catalysts be studied under the same conditions in which they will be applied, typically at high temperatures and pressures, in the presence of different gases, among other variables. Thus, sophisticated scientific equipment is needed to carry out such research.

The QUATI beamline will allow real-time analysis of a huge variety of physical and chemical processes that take place on the millisecond time scale, making it possible to monitor, for example, the structural changes that occur in materials during chemical reactions related to the functioning of catalysts.

SABIÁ

Sabiá (Mimosa caesalpiniaefolia) is a tree found natively in the Northeast Region and in part of the North Region of Brazil, which is cultivated for the durability of its wood. Its leaves are also used as food for animals in times of water scarcity.

Magnetic materials are the basis for a wide variety of technologies, from headphones to hard drives for data storage. This diversity of applications means that innovative magnetic materials are actively researched, for example, for the delivery of drugs directly to tumor areas, for the development of more compact and less energy-consuming electronic devices, or for the so-called magnetic refrigeration, which has the potential to replace technology based on gases harmful to the environment, among others.

The study of magnetic materials involves understanding previously unknown and fundamental aspects of magnetism. Thus, the SABIÁ beamline will be optimized for investigating the structural and magnetic properties of these materials, especially their surfaces and interfaces. SABIÁ will allow magnetic measurements with sensitivity to the identification of the chemical elements that make up the sample and that are responsible for magnetism.

PAINEIRA

Paineira is the popular name for several species of the Ceiba genus. Its seeds are wrapped in fine white fibers, called paina, and are used to fill pillows and plush toys.

The search for clean, renewable, and cheap energy sources has intensified in recent years, with the growing consensus that the rise in the average temperature of the planet, and the consequent intensification of extreme climatic episodes, is caused by human action. However, it is essential that this search be combined with the development of new energy storage systems that are efficient and low cost, capable of competing with the use of fossil fuels.

Among these new storage systems are, for example, so-called lithium-air batteries. These batteries store electrical energy through the reaction between lithium and oxygen and have a greater storage capacity than commercially used batteries, such as lithium-ion batteries. However, one of the main challenges for the development of more efficient batteries is to understand the correlation between the structure of the materials that compose them and the performance of these devices.

The PAINEIRA beamline will make it possible, for example, to study the structural changes in the materials that make up devices for energy storage in operating conditions, that is, during the charging and discharging cycles of the battery.

IMBÚIA

Imbúia is the popular name of the species Ocotea porosa, typical of the araucaria forests of southern Brazil. Previously abundant, Imbuia is a threatened species due to the predatory exploitation of its high-quality wood.

Investigations of morphology and chemical composition are fundamental for understanding the physiology of biological systems at different levels. The execution of these studies in environments similar to biological fluids provides representative information of these systems in their natural environments. For the analysis of an isolated blood cell, for example, the ideal would be to use a liquid that reproduces its natural environment, that is, blood.

The IMBUIA beamline is dedicated to experiments using infrared light, which allows the identification of functional groups of molecules and the analysis of the composition of virtually any material, with nanometric resolution. IMBUIA will thus allow cutting-edge research to be carried out both on new synthetic materials and for understanding natural materials, such as biological samples.

In this beamline, chemical mapping of millimetric tissues and biological systems can be carried out, with a spatial resolution of a few micrometers. In particular, it will allow the chemical analysis of isolated animal cells, in the context of local chemical reactions, and the delivery of nanopharmaceuticals to specific cell organelles or regions.

SAPUCAIA

Sapucaia is the popular name of the species Lecythis pisonis, common in the Amazon Forest and the Atlantic Forest. Its fruit is hard and contains small chestnuts, much appreciated by monkeys.

Nanoparticles, due to their extremely small size and properties adaptable to all types of applications, have attracted the attention of a wide range of research areas. The performance of these tiny particles can be controlled through their composition, size, and shape. For example, nanoparticles can be used as pills that carry and deliver drugs directly to sick cells, such as in cancers, or to fight viruses and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The SAPUCAIA beamline will allow, for example, research on the shape, organization, and dynamics of nanoparticles in a wide variety of fields of research in physics, chemistry, and biology, in addition to industrial applications.

SAPUCAIA will also answer several questions related to life sciences (biological and medical applications), structural biology (proteins, lipids, macromolecules) and a vast field of material sciences, including nanotechnology, polymers, catalysis, rheology, and environmental science.

JATOBÁ

Jatobá is the popular name for trees of the genus Hymenaea L., common throughout Latin America and, especially, in the Amazon Forest. Its name can be translated from the Tupi as “tree of hard fruits”.

Complex materials are characterized by the fact that their properties and functionalities depend on the organization and interaction of their structures at various length scales, from the atomic structure, through the nanometric, mesoscopic and macroscopic scales.

Such materials play a central role in modern society, and are present, for example, in batteries, electronic devices, industrial processes, and in many other applications. The knowledge of the structure of these materials at the atomic level is of particular interest to science, since the macroscopic physical properties reflect the cumulative effect of several interactions between nearby atoms, the so-called local structure.

The JATOBÁ beamline will be dedicated to experiments to determine the structure of materials, from their local structure (chemical bond lengths and interatomic distances) to the shape and size of nanostructures, both crystalline and non-crystalline materials, such as such as liquids, amorphous materials, and nanoparticles. The JATOBÁ beamline will also allow experiments resolved in time to analyze the kinetics of structural changes that occur in complex materials when subjected to external stimuli.

CEDRO

Brazilian cedar or fragrant cedar (Cedrela odorata) is a tree of great natural distribution, which in Brazil occurs in the Atlantic Forest, in the Amazon and even in the Caatinga biome. Its name is due to the good quality of its wood and the characteristic odor, similar to the original cedar, known as Lebanon cedar.

Proteins are biological macromolecules formed by chains of smaller molecules, called amino acids. After its formation, the chain of amino acids bends and folds over itself, acquiring a shape, called secondary and tertiary structures, which will enable its function in the body. The investigation of the three-dimensional structure of a protein or enzyme makes it possible to understand its action and its interaction with other molecules.

The understanding of how these structures behave in the biological environment and how the formation of protein-drug complexes enables the solution of several medical and scientific problems.

The CEDRO beamline will allow investigating this secondary structure of proteins and protein-drug complexes, identifying the disordered regions of these proteins, as well as analyzing the interactions of proteins with small molecules, which will contribute to the development of drugs. Associated with this, the CEDRO beamline will allow measurements to be carried out under conditions similar to those found in the biological environment where these molecules are found.

SAPÊ

Sapê is the popular name for the grass Imperata brasiliensis whose stems, after being dried, are used to build the roof of rustic houses. Its name derives from the tupi word ssa’pé, “that which iluminates”, in reference to its easy burning.

The development of increasingly powerful and efficient electronic devices requires the continuous miniaturization of their components. For this, it is necessary to constantly search for materials that have adequate structural, electronic, and optical properties.

An example of these new materials are the so-called topological insulators. These materials have the special characteristic of being electrical insulators in their inner volume and, at the same time, electrical conductors on their surfaces with low electrical resistance. In addition, these materials would allow the construction of extremely robust transistors and quantum memory bits, helping in the evolution of quantum computing, which would revolutionize data processing speeds.

The SAPÊ beamline will study the electronic structure of these topological insulators and a wide variety of other materials, allowing the investigation, for example, of superconducting properties, graphene, and the study of electronic states of interfaces between solids and ultrathin films.