Federal resources will be directed towards phase 2 of Sirius, which includes constructing ten new research stations
The Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM), an organization supervised by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), will receive resources for projects determined to be strategic which are included in the new edition of the Growth Acceleration Program (PAC).
This plan announced by the federal government includes investments of R$ 800 M over the next 4 years for the second phase of Sirius, which includes the planning and construction of ten new research stations as well as technical and building infrastructure and ongoing optimization of the electron accelerators.
Sirius is the largest and most complex project in Brazilian science, and one of just three state-of-the-art synchrotron light sources currently operating in the world. It is an extremely versatile infrastructure that makes it possible to meet research needs from practically all knowledge areas. Comprised of a set of electron accelerators, Sirius was designed to generate radiation in a broad range of the electromagnetic spectrum, especially in the X-ray region, which can be used to study organic and inorganic materials at the atomic and molecular scale.
“Sirius is a pivotal project for Brazil, since even during its construction there was a significant transfer of technology to the companies who collaborated as suppliers of products and services, which resulted in a nationalization rate of approximately 85% for the project. Both the academic and business communities have benefited from the development of personnel and cutting-edge resources to carry out research. It is important to stress that the investigations conducted at Sirius can benefit society in various fields of knowledge, such as in the search for new solutions to face problems in the area of healthcare and to develop new technologies for agriculture, the environment, more sustainable energy sources and materials, among other possibilities,” summarizes CNPEM Director General Antonio José Roque da Silva.
“The strategic challenges faced by Brazil and the world and the search for sustainable solutions in the areas of energy, health, nutrition, and the environment require increasingly advanced tools. To develop lighter and stronger materials, better pharmaceuticals, renewable energy sources, we need to understand how things work on their most basic level, which is the atomic scale. Sirius is a piece of scientific equipment that permits precisely this type of investigation,” explains Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Luciana Santos.
The status of Sirius
The building that houses Sirius was designed to hold up to 38 beamlines, as the experimental stations are called. The first, Manacá, was opened to the scientific community in July of 2020, and prioritized research that could help address the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Since that time, according to the flow and availability of resources and ability to validate technical requirements, new research stations are being made available.
The first phase of Project Sirius involved the construction of 14 beamlines: ten of these are already receiving experiments, and two are in the assembly stage. According to José Roque, resources are still needed to construct the final two beamlines in the first phase of the project, along with funding to operate Sirius and pay for human resources. “As always, MCTI has committed to major efforts to conclude the project’s first phase. These funds are essential so we can offer the researchers who come to Sirius the best resources to prepare samples, conduct experiments on the beamlines, and interpret the data they collect.”
According to Harry Westfahl Jr., Director of the Brazilian Synchrotron Light National Laboratory (LNLS/CNPEM), Sirius will be more efficient with more beamlines open to researchers. “The development of new experimental stations in equipment like Sirius takes place over several years, in other words, it is a project that should be constantly expanding so that more Brazilian researchers can have advanced scientific resources at their disposal which are in line with the challenges that the future holds for us,” he notes.
Maximum biosafety laboratory
The PAC funding also will be invested in a new project at CNPEM requested by MCTI that involves creating a laboratory for advanced research involving pathogens, the first of its kind in Latin America and the only one in the world connected to a synchrotron light source.
Called Orion in homage to the constellation with three stars that point toward the star Sirius, the new laboratory complex will span roughly 20,000 square meters and be constructed on the CNPEM campus in Campinas, São Paulo. Orion will combine high-level biosafety facilities (BSL-3 and BSL-4), laboratory infrastructure, analytical techniques, electron microscopy and cryomicroscopy, and will also be connected to three of Sirius’s research stations.
This structure will permit research on diseases caused by biological agents that are highly transmissible or whose transmission routes or biological aspects are still unknown, which are classified as biosafety risk level 4 pathogens.
“This investment renews the MCTI and Brazilian federal government’s recognition of the strategic value of the projects CNPEM has been conducting over so many years. We are working to strengthen the national science, technology, and innovation system by providing competitive infrastructure to obtain answers for the most challenging problems that society currently faces, and for those that are yet to come,” says CNPEM Director General Antonio José Roque da Silva.
With a sophisticated and vibrant environment for research and development that is the only one of its kind in Brazil and found in only a few scientific centers in the world, the Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM) is a private, non-profit organization overseen by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI). The Center operates four national laboratories and is home to Sirius, the most complex project in Brazilian science and one of the world’s most advanced synchrotron light sources. CNPEM is home to highly specialized multi-thematic teams, globally competitive lab infrastructure that is open to the scientific community, strategic lines of research, innovative projects in partnerships with the productive sector, and training for researchers and students. The Center is an environment driven by research into solutions that impact the areas of health, energy and renewable materials, agri-environmental, and quantum technologies. Through the CNPEM 360 platform users can take immersive virtual visits to all the laboratories in Campinas (SP), as well as obtain information about the work conducted there and resources available to the scientific and business communities. In 2022, with support from the Brazilian Ministry of Education (MEC), CNPEM expanded its activities with the opening of the Ilum School of Science. This interdisciplinary program in science, technology, and innovation implements innovative ideas to provide a high quality free and full-time undergraduate education immersed in the research environment at CNPEM.