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Cheongju picked to host new synchrotron radiation accelerator in S. Korea

By Lim Chang-won Posted : May 8, 2020, 11:12 Updated : May 8, 2020, 11:12

[Courtesy of North Chungcheong Province]

SEOUL -- Cheongju, a city located in the center of South Korea, was picked to host a new synchrotron radiation accelerator, which is seen as an ideal tool for many types of research. Construction will begin in 2022 at the latest and the Seoul government plans to put it into operation in 2028.

Cheongju in North Chungcheong Province was selected as the best site for the deployment of the new accelerator because of its stable geological ground structure, the convenience of transportation and the integration of research institutes, the Ministry of Science and ICT said on Friday, a day after an on-site inspection by evaluators.

"Cheongju received high marks, especially in terms of geographical conditions and potential for development," First Vice Minister Jeong Byung-seon told reporters. He said that the government would actively support the deployment of synchrotron radiation accelerators "to enhance the competitiveness of future high-tech industries."

Provincial governments have been eager to win the state project because it is expected to have a high economic effect on their regional economy. The construction cost alone is estimated at almost one trillion won ($814 million).

Out of four cities that have made bids, Cheongju, some 110 kilometers (68 miles) south of Seoul, beat Naju, 290 km southwest of Seoul, in a final round of the race to grab a state order for the construction of the new accelerator.

Cheongju has said it was in a better position than Naju, citing a nearby research belt with abundant human resources. The city is not far away from Daejeon, located in the central region of South Korea, which has many state bodies, research institutes and colleges.

Synchrotron radiation is the electromagnetic radiation emitted when charged particles are accelerated radially. When high-energy particles are in acceleration, including electrons forced to travel in a curved path by a magnetic field, synchrotron radiation is produced. As the new accelerator emits brighter X-ray lasers than before, researchers can develop medicine to treat specific diseases without damaging healthy tissue and analyze the structure of atomic-scale objects more easily.

South Korean runs two synchrotron radiation facilities in the lab of the Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), which succeeded in emitting high-intensity laser in 2017. There are other types of accelerators. A proton accelerator is located in Gyeongju. A heavy-ion accelerator will be built in Daejon and a heavy particle accelerator in Busan.

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