The promise of synchrotron radiation in medical science
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A synchrotron is capable of providing information about structures down to nano, molecular and atomic level. Essentially it accelerates electrons to almost the speed of light, where they have a very high energy level. The electrons are passed through a series of magnets and deflected around a "storage ring" where they emit beams of extremely intense radiation (light) that can be channeled out of the device. These beams consist of high intensity light across multiple wavelengths and have many useful applications that yield results far superior than conventional medical imaging modalities. For example, synchrotron x-rays are hundreds of thousands of times brighter (more intense) than the x-rays obtained from conventional x-ray machines that are available in labs and hospitals. Synchrotron measurements enable characterization across scales, ranging from life-size images down to nano, molecular and atomic structures due to its high resolution and high signal-to-noise ratio. The applications of synchrotron radiation in medicine are many and varied. Diagnostic imaging, the major medical application of x-rays, represents just one application of synchrotron radiation. In this editorial, I briefly summarise the applications of synchrotron radiation in medical research and provide a few examples of their impact in medicine.
This article was first published in the Australasian Medical Journal, a peer-reviewed open acess journal.This article is published under the Open Access publishing model and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/.
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