There’s an app for that: U of S and partners develop remote control software for synchrotron

Publicado em 08/05/2012

News In Saskatchewan, em 07/05/2012

Innovators at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan, together with their partners, have made it possible to control a multi-million dollar synchrotron from halfway around the world with nothing more than a personal computer – even a tablet.

On April 28, U of S President Peter MacKinnon joined Canadian Governor General David Johnston and Dr. Antônio José Roque da Silva, Director of the Brazilian Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS) in Campinas, Brazil to access a CLS beamline and pipe the data directly into a computer at the LNLS. MacKinnon initiated the experiment.

The demonstration accessed the CLS VESPERS beamline and involved taking a series of scans of a tissue sample of Crohn’s Disease. The demo included starting the scans and receiving the resulting data.

“This is an amazing example of the new opportunities for research and collaboration available to scientists and graduate students both in Canada and Brazil thanks to this innovative technology developed at the CLS,” MacKinnon said.

“It’s tremendously efficient. A company in Saskatoon that wants to do a certain kind of research, for which we don’t have the right kind of beamlines, can now use the synchrotron in Brazil.”

Synchrotrons are used by a wide range of researchers and companies working in biosciences, nanomaterials, and materials science. Applications of these versatile facilities are too numerous to mention, but a few examples include advanced materials for the electronics, mining, and pipeline industries, and developing new drugs, medical imaging, and environmental remediation techniques.

MacKinnon explained that the remote control technology helps maximize value of public investment in major science facilities such as the CLS by providing powerful tools that allow researchers to exchange ideas and information in real time with colleagues around the world.

Roque da Silva agrees.

“From now on, researchers from Canada, Brazil and other countries will be able to exchange expertise and knowledge working together in real time. This is a big step to improve collaborative science.”

The CLS software innovation, funded by Canada’s CANARIE Network Enabled Program, has led to a suite of web-based applications called ScienceStudio that involves the University of Western Ontario, Concordia University, and IBM Canada.

“ScienceStudio is the result of the kind of innovation that can happen when partners from major science facilities, universities and industries work together,” said CLS Executive Director Josef Hormes.

Using ScienceStudio, research groups can securely access and run experiments at ‘big science’ facilities such as the CLS, collect data, collaborate on data analysis and interpretation of results, and schedule additional experiments. ScienceStudio is currently in use on a beamline at the CLS, the Nanofabrication Facility at the University of Western Ontario, and the Advanced Light Source in Berkeley, California, as well as at the LNLS and Cenpes/Petrobras, an associated research centre in Brazil.

LNLS and CLS have been collaborating on integrating capabilities from LabWeb (developed by the Brazilian Light Source) into the Science Studio platform for use by both facilities.

For more information on research at the University of Saskatchewan, please contact:

Michael Robin
Research Communications Specialist
U of S Research Communications
Telephone: (306) 966-1425

Photo and story courtesy of the University of Saskatchewan.

Photograph caption – U of S Ph.D. student Dong Liu discusses the remote control software with Elder Matias at the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the U of S in Saskatoon. Matias led the CLS software development team. The web-based tool allows remote operation of the synchrotron from desktop or hand held computers.