Diverse Engineering Skills Drive the Future of X-ray Science
by Mohammed Arafat
Friday 25th of February 2022
Engineers at the US Department of Energy's (DOE) are working together to create an advanced space that will drive the future of X-ray science. This development will produce X-ray beams hundreds of times brighter and more focused than what is currently being produced. The main purpose is to produce X-rays of electron detectors that travel near the speed of light in a circle more than a kilometer in a circle. With these X-ray radiation, the enhancement will enable testing with unprecedented correction and scale. Engineers working on Argonne National Laboratory upgrade project (APS) have their hands on all parts of the facility, from the electronics used to direct the electron beam, to the structure that maintains the light source.
“As different engineers come together, we are constantly learning something new” - Argonne director Dana Capatina
"The development of APS is a huge undertaking," said Argonne chief mechanical engineer Jie Liu, who operates a speedometer that provides the electron energy needed to produce X-rays. “Not only does it require a huge investment of time and resources, but it also involves the technology of many different types of engineering. There are mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, magnetic engineering, vacuum engineering and even civil engineering, and so on, ”he said.
The collaboration between the scientists who want to use the advanced APS and the engineers working to build the facility creates a two-way road. In this relationship, scientists propose potential improvements and engineers see how things can work out. According to Liu, the process of creating an advanced APS enriches the engineering fields that we are helping to allow.
“Working on APS development helps to apply all of our technology to all types of engineering,” Liu said.
“As different engineers come together, we’re always learning something new,” added Argonne principal mechanical engineer Dana Capatina, who is responsible for helping to develop new improved components to deliver the X-ray beams. “The beams we will generate once the upgrade is complete will be much more focused, which requires equipment that is much more precise.”
The collaborative environment of the APS Development project creates a fertile field for new projects where ideas are shared. For example, in order to build more than 1,300 magnets to be replaced in a new ring containing high-speed electrons, physicists must work closely with the magnetic engineer, who must also work with industrial engineers to make this design a reality.
Even if the APS upgrade project is completed, different types of developers will be needed to help ensure that the upgraded APS works properly. "Even with everything installed, you have the power supply engineers and the control engineers in charge of the facility, as we do today," Liu said.
With new discoveries, it lays the foundation for new institutional design strategies, involving scientists and engineers to explore how the APS Development project can be developed. These discussions often result in positive technological benefits.
"A lot of people think that a magnet, for example, comes as a single, simple package," Liu said. “Most of the time most people do not know all the details that come with the engineering of something that looks simple. Often the biggest challenge is to simplify the design of the object. ”
The integration of many types of engineering introduces new technological environments designed for specific technological challenges. “Equipping and developing a trial or testing station to use a high quality beam requires mechatronics - a combination of mechanical and electrical engineering that uses the latest developments in each area,” Capatina said.
For Liu, the attention to detail that makes the APS development project what it is. “As a chef, an engineer has to be careful and put his heart and soul into action to make something good and effective,” he says.