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NUS and NRF Partner to Foster Collaboration in Scientific Research

Image Credits: NUS, Press Release

NUS and the National Research Foundation, Singapore (NRF) have launched the National Synchrotron Programme (NSP) to promote and anchor synchrotron research in the country. Under the move, NUS and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) have signed an agreement giving Singapore researchers preferred access to the Australian Synchrotron.

Hosted by NUS, the SG$16 million NSP gathers all Singapore-based research institutions, agencies and industries into a vibrant ecosystem of synchrotron-related research. This is aimed at advancing knowledge, creating unique tools and techniques, and developing the talent to enhance Singapore’s synchrotron efforts globally.

Resources for local synchrotron research will be coordinated by the NSP at the Singapore Synchrotron Light Source (SSLS), which is based at NUS’ Kent Ridge campus, and overseas via the International Synchrotron Access (ISA) initiative that complements the capabilities of the current facility.

Photo: The Singapore Synchrotron Light Source (SSLS) at NUS. Image credit: NUS, Press Release

Under the ISA initiative, a five-year collaboration agreement was signed between NUS and ANSTO that allows Singapore researchers to use ANSTO’s synchrotron facilities in Melbourne.

The launch ceremony took place during the Singapore Prime Minister’s official visit to Australia for the 7th Singapore-Australia Leaders’ Meeting on 17 October 2022. It was witnessed by the Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry and the Australian Minister for Industry and Science.

The NUS Deputy President (Research and Technology) stated that synchrotron facilities are crucial to many disciplines including the life sciences, materials science, environmental analysis and micro/nano fabrication. Advancements in synchrotron research have enabled scientists to probe a wide range of materials and conduct scientific experiments that eventually lead to important discoveries.

He said that NUS is excited to host the National Synchrotron Programme and its International Synchrotron Access initiative, which will broaden Singaporean scientists’ access to such premier research facilities, and in turn, accelerate the pace of innovation to bring about game-changing solutions that benefit society.

The Director of the Australian Synchrotron stated that the new partnership will enable greater access to the specialised tools and techniques required to carry out important research and deliver strong outcomes for both nations’ scientific research capabilities.

Greater access to synchrotron capabilities locally and overseas 

A synchrotron is a machine that accelerates charged particles, such as electrons at extremely high energies to produce an electron beam that travels at almost the speed of light. The resulting light emitted in synchrotrons has many useful properties – it can be filtered and adjusted to travel into experimental workstations where the light hits samples to illuminate the innermost secrets of materials, from human tissue to plants to metals and more. Synchrotrons facilitate research from a variety of domains including biosciences, medical research, environmental sciences, agriculture, and advanced materials.

The SSLS, designated as a National Research Infrastructure located at NUS, has been in operation for over two decades, catering to a wide range of local and international, academic, agencies and industry users from different domains. With the evolution and broadening of research fields in Singapore, the number of users and demand for higher energy and more sophisticated light sources have increased over the years. On top of tapping on the SSLS, Singapore scientists have been collaborating with international synchrotrons worldwide.

The Australian Synchrotron operated by ANSTO in Australia is popular with Singapore researchers as its wider energy range and advanced capabilities such as macromolecular crystallography, phase contrast imaging, X-ray scattering, and absorption ideally complement the SSLS.

The Director (National Research Infrastructure) at NRF stated that synchrotron techniques hold immense potential for advancing fundamental knowledge across various scientific fields. The National Synchrotron Programme will accelerate Singapore researchers into international developments. Furthermore, its International Synchrotron Access initiative with Australia will also expand our current synchrotron capabilities. The programme is expected to strengthen Singapore’s synchrotron research capabilities and nurture a pipeline of manpower and expertise to address national needs in the future, he said.

Besides overseeing the SSLS and the newly launched ISA initiative, the NSP will offer outreach activities and expertise to evaluate and analyse research problems that can spark the use of synchrotron techniques to further advance the science.

With the dynamic global landscape of synchrotron developments, the NSP will be at the forefront of synchrotron developments and help to actively train fresh talent for the development of manpower in synchrotron-related activities.

Singapore is keen to position itself as the digital destination in the region and is eager to drive innovation locally and internationally through collaboration. A great example is the Punggol Digital District which has been built to allow industry and academia to interact by sharing workspaces and resources; encouraging knowledge sharing and development of new partnerships in cutting-edge tech fields.

Nationally, NCS has teamed up with Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority to support 1,600 tech jobs and training opportunities over the next two years, reinforcing the agency’s commitment to developing local tech talent

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