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From Sci-Fi movies to reality

A research center launches its mission to build one of the most modern particle accelerators in the world. And to put it working perfectly and safe, the support of an automation system is fundamental.  

One of the most modern particle accelerators in the world is being built in the Brazilian city of Campinas, and its conclusion promises advances in several areas.

A landmark in Brazilian science

The end of this decade marks the beginning of the operation of one of the most modern particle accelerators in the world.


The project called Sirius is being run in the city of Campinas, in the state of São Paulo, on the campus of the National Center for Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM). With inauguration estimated to 2018, the site will be the world leader in synchrotron light, a particular type of radiation: it is a beam of light so intense that it allows studying in detail the constitution of the materials, as in a super microscope.


Automation and safety

The National Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS) was inaugurated in Brazil in 1997, in the same location where the new particle accelerator is being built. The Sirius numbers are impressive: it will be 68.000 square meters of constructed area and 518 meters in circumference, which is five times larger than the current one - and equivalent to 21 soccer fields. The most advanced study center of its kind in Latin America will be able to attend the academic community and the industry.


And what can a particle accelerator have to do with production processes? By using it, it's possible to study in detail and high resolution the structure of atoms and molecules. This level of study allows, for example, understanding the functioning of various diseases and also helps in the development of new medicines, among many other applications, in several areas.


Synchrotron light is also widely used for materials studies, such as superconductors that will help develop the computers of the future. And the synchrotron light can still be applied in studies of primitive fossils. Besides, it is estimated that the use of this technology will provide advances in areas as nanotechnology, construction, chemistry, energy, biotechnology, environment, agriculture, etc.


An important step in the construction of research stations in a structure like this is the automation of the systems that compose these stations. To automate and supervise the equipment that forms these research centers, industrial automation solutions, as well as personal safety systems, come into the picture, responsible for avoiding potential risks to researchers and the laboratory professionals.


The prototypes of Sirius research stations already count on panels, relays, and controllers from the Siemens SIMATIC line that will be applied to the light lines. These solutions work integrated and allow high processing performance, operating in the supervision and the control of sensors and actuators of the research stations. Any anomaly in the operation of the automated systems of experimental stations is detected at intervals measured in milliseconds and microseconds, which guarantees the ideal operation of the system and ensures the integrity of the equipment.


Through this solution and the TIA Portal (Totally Integrated Automation Portal) platform, the LNLS provides automation, control, and protection of several devices with high-tech and added value. Transposing the concept to industry, for example, we can say that investment in equipment and solutions is preserved, with the optimization of its functionalities. The LNLS light line personal safety system design will also use Siemens Safety solution.

National Synchrotron Light Laboratory