Science & Technology

Out of Sync


Photo: Jeff Miller

On March 7, 2014, the lights went out for the last time at UW-Madison’s Synchrotron Radiation Center (SRC). The facility — an infrared, ultraviolet and x-ray light source used in research — lost its funding and shut down. It had been in operation since 1986.

Located near Stoughton, Wisconsin, SRC was based around Aladdin: a ring-shaped accelerator about the size of a baseball diamond that produced a laser-like light, but with a much broader range. Researchers from around the world came to the facility to examine what various substances — biological, chemical, physical — looked like at the atomic level.

The staff at SRC created three-dimensional, infrared images of cells; helped the development of nanotechnology; studied materials for semiconductors and high-temperature superconductors; and helped research the magnetic materials that are used to make computer hard drives.

But SRC was dependent upon federal funding, and according to its director, Joe Bisognano, the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy decided to put their money elsewhere. SRC had received support from university bridge funds over the last two years, but when the facility learned that it would not receive any federal funds after 2013, the UW decided to close it down.

Some pieces of its equipment will be sold to labs at the UW and other universities and research stations, and others will be scrapped. As of press time, the UW had not yet decided what to do with the SRC’s warehouse-sized building.

Published in the Summer 2014 issue


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