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Newly discovered neutron beams expected to lead to more discoveries for China

By Li Yan (People's Daily Online)    16:40, October 30, 2017

The China Spallation Neutron Source Park

Chinese experts say the neutron beams obtained at the China Spallation Neutron Source (CSNS) in Dongguan, south China’s Guangdong province, is expected to lead to new discoveries in material science, clean energy, and medicine.

The CSNS project has currently entered the test operation phase. The project makes China the latest country to create neutron beams after the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan.

Neutron beams can examine subatomic materials without damaging their structure. Chen Hesheng, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the project manager, unveiled how the neutron beams are produced and transported.

The neutrons are “sucked” into various branches and channeled into different lab equipment for research, he said. All of the equipment used to generate the neutron beams is more than a dozen meters underground in order to trap the tiny amount of harmful radiation created in the process.

“In the first phase, three facilities will be constructed; and for the long term, some 20 pieces of equipment, each of which can generate more neutron beams, will be constructed,” Chen disclosed.

The neutron beams will help scientists discover new chemical mechanisms for producing clean energy, such as flammable ice, and facilitate the discovery of new material for more powerful electronics or create stronger and more durable material for engines, Chen said.

They will also be helpful in creating new therapies to treat tumors that are difficult to operate on by hand, Chen added.

The construction of the CSNS equipment will promote international exchanges and cooperation on research and application of neutron beams. “The project will draw some 600 scientists at home and abroad to jointly carry out scientific research on cutting-edge technologies related to the sector,” said Sun Mu, Party secretary of the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The equipment is safe, Chen said. His team has estimated that the amount of radiation from the equipment is equal to a long-distance air trip in terms of its impact on residents living nearby.

A monitoring station was built near the facility to examine and control the amount of radiation. A report about CSNS’s impact on the surrounding environment has proposed an emergency response plan, which says the main radiation created by the neutron beams will immediately disappear following a power cut. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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