New Zealand invests AU$4.5m in Australia's Synchrotron

The New Zealand government and research sector have announced a total investment of AU$4.5 million over three years for Australia's Synchrotron.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The New Zealand government, alongside the New Zealand research sector, has allocated a total of AU$4.5 million to support the Australian Synchrotron.

The AU$1.5 million to be donated every year for three years sees the total investment into the Synchrotron from Australia's trans-Tasman neighbours reach AU$13.5 million since it began operations in 2007.

Located in Melbourne, the Synchrotron is a cyclic particle accelerator that produces a powerful source of light, revealing the innermost structure of materials in very high detail.

It has been operated by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation since 2013 and according to the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne, it benefits over 4,000 researchers annually, including from Australia and New Zealand.

Australia's Synchrotron is also the largest piece of scientific infrastructure in the southern hemisphere.

"The Synchrotron is one of Australia's most important research infrastructure platforms, delivering ground-breaking scientific discoveries," Pyne said.

"This is world-leading technology that allows researchers and industry to work together to solve nationally and in some cases globally significant challenges across a diverse user community.

"New Zealand has been a long-time backer and user of the Synchrotron for important work that supports their scientific work and I'm delighted that they will continue to participate in and support this valuable piece of research infrastructure."

Steven Joyce, New Zealand Minister of Science and Innovation, said the investment was made to secure preferential access to the Synchrotron for Kiwi scientists.

"New Zealand scientists have been enthusiastic adopters of Synchrotron science. This renewed investment ensures they will have preferential access to the latest technology," he said.

"Synchrotron science plays an important role in supporting New Zealand's science capability. It has applications across a wide range of scientific disciplines highly relevant to us."

Joyce said that techniques that previously took up to 5 days can be achieved in 10-20 minutes using advanced Synchrotron techniques.

As part of the federal government's AU$1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda unveiled in December, the Australian Synchrotron was allocated AU$520 million, slated to commence later this year.

In addition to Synchrotron funding, the government also set aside AU$1.5 billion for the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) to help the NCRIS continue to drive collaboration between researchers, government, and industry to deliver practical outcomes such as the nano-patch vaccination method; direct targeting methods for melanoma: disaster mitigation: and unlocking mineral, gas, and petroleum deposits.

AU$294 million was given to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) which will be the largest and most capable radio telescope ever constructed, with the government saying the SKA will deliver significant economic, scientific, and technological benefits.

The Centre for Quantum Computation and Communications Technology, which is headquarted at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), is also slated to receive AU$26 million over five years to support the developments it has made and advancements it will make in quantum computing, after a team of engineers unlocked the key to enabling quantum computer coding in silicon in November.

The university's latest breakthrough follows on from an announcement made in October when a team of engineers built a quantum logic gate in silicon, which made calculations between two quantum bits (qubits) of information possible.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia previously pledged AU$10 million to support the university's researchers with Telstra matching the AU$10 million later that day.

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