SESAME Synchrotron's Battle for Light

In Jordan, a particle accelerator struggles to create a photon beam

11 min read
Amor Nadji oversees the engineers striving to build a particle accelerator in Jordan.
Photo: Joseph Zakarian

Three years ago, Amor Nadji and three young engineers piled into a van in Amman, Jordan, and drove 30 kilometers northeast to the city of Zarqa. Their route took them past faded, sand-colored buildings and empty lots where sheep grazed on patches of grass and low brush.

The shops and apartment buildings gradually thinned out, and the van entered an industrial ghetto of warehouses. Behind one set of padlocked doors, about 100 plywood boxes and metal equipment racks stood coated in a thick layer of dust. Carefully packed away in those boxes was the collected hardware of a vintage synchrotron. The engineers’ mission was to salvage the then-25-year-old particle accelerator and turn it into a first-rate machine. This supermicroscope, called SESAME (for Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) would enable scientists from Jordan and nearby countries to investigate the atomic structure of different materials. The engineers’ hope was that SESAME would revitalize Middle Eastern science and encourage friendly encounters between otherwise factious neighbors.

Keep reading... Show less

Stay ahead of the latest trends in technology. Become an IEEE member.

This article is for IEEE members only. Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Engineers Are Working on a Solar Microgrid To Outlast Lunar Nights

Future lunar bases will need power for mining and astronaut survival

4 min read
A rendering of a lunar base. In the foreground are rows of solar panels and behind them are two astronauts standing in front of a glass dome with plants inside.
P. Carril/ESA

The next time humans land on the moon on the moon, they intend to stay awhile. For the Artemis program program, NASA and its collaborators want to build a sustained presence on the moon, which includes setting up a base at which astronauts can live and work.

One of the crucial elements for a functioning lunar base is a power supply. Sandia National Laboratories, a research and development lab that specializes in building microgrids for military bases, is teaming up with NASA to design one that will work on the moon.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less

Trilobite-Inspired Camera Boasts Huge Depth of Field

New camera relies on "metalenses" that could be fabricated using a standard CMOS foundry

3 min read
Black and white image showing different white box shapes in rows

Scanning electron microscope image of the titanium oxide nanopillars that make up the metalens. The scale is 500 nanometers (nm).


Inspired by the eyes of extinct trilobites, researchers have created a miniature camera with a record-setting depth of field—the distance over which a camera can produce sharp images in single photo. Their new study reveals that with the aid of artificial intelligence, their device can simultaneously image objects as near as 3 centimeters and as far away as 1.7 kilometers.

Five hundred million years ago, the oceans teemed with horseshoe-crab-like trilobites. Among the most successful of all early animals, these armored invertebrates lived on Earth for roughly 270 million years before going extinct.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less

Take the Lead on Satellite Design Using Digital Engineering

Learn how to accelerate your satellite design process and reduce risk and costs with model-based engineering methods

1 min read

Win the race to design and deploy satellite technologies and systems. Learn how new digital engineering techniques can accelerate development and reduce your risk and costs. Download this free whitepaper now!

Our white paper covers:

Keep Reading ↓ Show less