- Extremely Brilliant Source, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
- France (Grenoble)
The brightest x-ray source is the Extremely Brilliant Source (EBS), which is located at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France. The EBS is capable generating an x-ray beam with an energy of 6 GeV (gigaelectronvolts), more than 100 times brighter than the previous most powerful x-ray source. The enormous ring-shaped machine, which measures 268.6 m (881 ft) across, opened on 25 August 2020.
For context, the energy of a typical medical x-ray is around 20 KeV (kiloelectronvolts), that's a million times weaker than the EBS source. The EBS is designed with a range of experimental stations, where the beam can be directed to equipment designed for materials science or medical imaging, for example.
The EBS made headlines soon after its commissioning, when it was used by a team of researchers from University College London and the ESRF to power a new biomedical imaging technique called Hierarchical Phase-Contrast Tomography (HiP-CT). This was used to create full three-dimensional scans of lungs and brains of individuals that had died of COVID-19, allowing researchers to examine the damage done by the disease down to a cellular level. The power of the EBS enabled imagining of whole organs and a resolution that had previously only been possible on tiny tissue samples.