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Special Feature
Newsletter "SEI WORLD" 2017 Vol. 472

Synchrotron radiation beamline Starts operations
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Sumitomo Electric has installed a synchrotron radiation beamline dedicated to the Sumitomo Electric Group at the Kyushu Synchrotron Light Research Center,*1 with the optical analysis facility having started operations last November. We would like to provide an overview of the facility and what synchrotron radiation analysis will reveal.

The Kyushu Synchrotron Light Research Center is the synchrotron radiation facility established by Saga Prefecture in 2006 mainly for industrial use. First built by a local government in Japan, the facility at Tosu-City is open to users from industry, academia and government. Saga Prefectural Regional Industry Support Center runs and manages it.

1. What is synchrotron radiation?

Synchrotron radiation is very bright artificial light generated by a large accelerator. Light consists of a wide range of wavelengths including visible light, which we see every day. For example, infrared light with a longer wavelength is used for optical communications. On the other hand, X-rays with a very short wavelength are used to generate various signals by X-ray irradiation on materials. Using these signals, the structures and characteristics of materials can be analyzed at the atomic level.

We have small devices for X-ray irradiation; however, the synchrotron radiation facility enables highly precise analyses by employing X-rays more than 10,000 times stronger than those generated by small devices.

2. What is a beamline?

A beamline is an experimental facility consisting of (1) a transport channel that shapes the X-ray beam provided by the accelerator, and (2) measuring instrument. We have shared beamlines such as SPring-8*2 with other users until now. The dedicated beamline enables us to resolve the chronic problem of time restrictions and promptly respond to the increasing need for analyses. It will also drastically improve our production processes and product performance and help us to provide low-cost and high-quality products more quickly.

The synchrotron radiation facility located at Harima Science Park City, Hyogo, Japan

3. What experiments will be conducted?

Here are experiments we have conducted at similar synchrotron radiation facilities.

■Experiment 1
Improvement of critical current performance of bismuth-based high-temperature superconducting wire

Our bismuth-based superconducting wire has a structure in which bismuth-based oxide conducting electric current is sheathed with silver. If oxide, which consists of fine crystal grains, has many out-of-phase components (foreign crystal grains) or low orientation (directions of grains are not aligned), the maximum current being conducted through superconducting wire (critical current performance) decreases. The analysis using synchrotron radiation revealed that out-of-phase components and low orientation vary significantly depending on production conditions, and helped us find the conditions in which they will be decreased. As a result, we achieved the largest critical current in the world.

■Experiment 2
Development of low-cost recycling technology for tungsten used in carbide tools

Since tungsten is a metal with high heat resistance and hardness, we have used it for cutting tools. Demand for tungsten is increasing, whereas the amount of deposits is small. To ensure a stable long-term supply of tungsten, efficient and low-cost recycling technology from used carbide tools is necessary. We dissolve used carbide tools in a solution, which is introduced into an ion exchange resin to collect the tungsten. Measurement using synchrotron radiation revealed the elementary state of tungsten in a solution and we determined optimal conditions for larger adsorption of tungsten. As a result, we are successfully recycling tungsten at a lower cost than the cost of imported material.

Used carbide tools
Used carbide tools
Absorption of tungsten using an ion exchange method
Absorption of tungsten using an ion exchange method
WO3 (tungsten oxide), recycled as a raw material
WO3 (tungsten oxide), recycled as a raw material
Analyzing the elementary state of tungsten (W) in a solution using synchrotron radiation

The Sumitomo Electric Group will also use the dedicated beamline for developing a wide range of products such as wire harnesses for automobiles, devices for wireless base stations, and flexible printed circuits.

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