First tenders announced for Synchrotron

The Victorian government today announced the first tender for Australia's first synchrotron - a $206 million machine that is like a giant microscope or X-ray machine.

The Australian Synchrotron uses light beams a million times brighter than the sun to probe the secrets of life and is used in industrial and scientific research.

It is located at Monash University and the synchrotron is about the size of a football field.

Innovation Minister John Brumby said the first tender is for Beamline One, which will be used to develop treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer's, arthritis and malaria.

It employs massive magnets - the biggest as heavy as an elephant and 10,000 times as powerful as the average fridge magnet - to generate incredibly bright light.

The synchrotron light on Beamline One will allow researchers to understand how to combat proteins that cause cancer and other diseases.

The state government had invested $157 million in the project while universities and other research groups have added another $25 million, leaving a $24 million shortfall in the infrastructure bill.

Funding is yet to be determined for the machine's operational costs but it is expected to be a mix of government, scientific and philanthropic money.

The state opposition has said the project is both over time and over budget and has questioned whether any private investors will come on board to plug the funding gap.

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