Diamond Light Source makes the invisible visible: Page 2 of 3

July 05, 2019 //By Phil McCluskey
Diamond Light
Diamond Light Source, located on the Harwell Campus near Didcot, Oxfordshire, is the UK’s national synchrotron; a not-for-profit research institute that’s free at the point of use for the general scientific community, provided results are published in scientific literature.

Helping the team present the results in a series of clear and understandable images is a new R&S RTA4004 1GHz 4-channel oscilloscope provided by Rohde & Schwarz. Rohde & Schwarz engineers, visiting Harwell, saw the ViSR demonstration being presented on outdated equipment and offered to loan the more modern instrument on a permanent basis.


Making the invisible visible

The synchrotron light does not contain continuous streams of photons, but is in fact pulses occurring at a frequency of

Fig. 2: The ViSR beamline is converted to a 500MHz
signal and displayed on the R&S RTA4004.

500MHz. One of the demonstrations uses a high-speed optical diode to convert the ViSR beamline to a 500MHz electrical signal, which is then compared with other light sources such as the continuous photon stream produced by an ordinary torch. It’s a powerful visual demonstration of a mostly invisible phenomenon.

Fig. 3: Presenting large, clear pictures, aided by
the R&S RTA4004, helps explain the value of
Diamond to the scientific community.

The 500MHz signal is not difficult for today’s scopes to capture (figure 2) but, as Diamond’s Chris Bloomer explains, “The R&S RTA4004 is extremely user friendly and easy to figure out. Its large screen is great for doing demonstrations with visitors, and modern connectivity options allow us to pull up the display on larger computer monitors or control the scope remotely.” Diamond hosts regular visits from the public, schools, scientists, and politicians.

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