Professor Alexander Moewes (right) and Neil Johnson (left) study a new super-thin material using synchrotron light. DAVID STOBBE / SASKATOON

Revealing materials’ secrets with synchrotron light

With the ability to probe a wide range of materials, researchers, from paleontologists to catalyst chemists, flock to these powerful light sources

By Mitch Jacoby

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Alexander Moewes is a high-energy physicist. Literally. The University of Saskatchewan researcher doesn’t smash atoms together to study subatomic particles—the typical work of “real” high-energy physicists. Rather, Moewes radiates energy and enthusiasm when he talks about his favorite research tools—synchrotrons.

“With synchrotron radiation, you can do experiments in so many areas of science that just cannot be done in any other way,” he says excitedly.