The Middle East’s first major international research centre for science application research, SESAME, will be inaugurated on 16 May in Jordan. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on 11 May that it will serve scientists from across the region and beyond researching the peaceful uses of nuclear technology. IAEA has been closely associated with the project and is an observer on the SESAME council. The facility will foster innovative scientific and technological research in areas ranging from biology, archaeology and medical sciences to studying the basic properties of materials science, physics, chemistry, and life sciences.
Khaled Touqan, Chairman, Jordan Atomic Energy Commission said he hoped the centre would “prevent and reverse the ‘scientific’ brain drain and encourage scientists to contribute to the development of the people of the region”.
SESAME is modelled on CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) and was developed under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
Members of SESAME include scientists and engineers from Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority and Turkey, who have been involved in the preparatory work since 2004. The facility is built around a Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications (SESAME), which can generate intense light beams for advanced scientific and technical research. Touqan said: “The support provided by the European Commission, as well as various international and national laboratories and organizations including the IAEA is well recognised.”
The precise testing and circulation of the beam light in the ‘storage rings’ has been successfully achieved in the 2.5 GeV (gigaelectronvolt) compact high performance light source machine. The aim of this Centre is to have 24 beamlines covering a wide range of scientific applications. Two of these beamlines; the IR (Infra-Red) and the XRF (X-ray fluorescence) have been installed and ready for producing photons.
The facility will enable visiting scientists, including university students and researchers, to participate in experiments on synchrotron radiation sources, analyse the data obtained and acquire and share scientific expertise and knowledge, Touqan said. As an observer on the SESAME council, the IAEA has provided support to the project and has helped in the successful commissioning of the SESAME magnets, hands-on training in areas such as beamlines technology, installation, and testing of equipment in a high performance synchrotron radiation research centre. The IAEA will continue serving on selection panels for scientific fellowships and participating in users’ meetings that promote the SESAME community throughout the region.