Japan's 8 GeV Super Photon Ring - the Y110 bn (about £560 m) third-generation synchrotron radiation source better known as SPring-8 - was officially opened at the Harima Science Garden City last month. SPring-8 is the highest energy synchrotron radiation source in the world - the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility and the US's Advanced Photon Source operate at 6 GeV and 7 GeV, respectively.

The facility comprises three accelerators: a 1 GeV linear accelerator, an 8 GeV booster cyclotron and an 8 GeV storage ring with a circumference of 1436 m. So far 18 beamlines are operational, including 10 public beamlines. SPring-8 was funded by the Science and Technology Agency, which will pay the annual running costs of Y10 bn, and will be managed by the Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute, which will be responsible for all future upgrades and new beamlines.

The SPring-8 management expect about 2000 users per year, including many from abroad. The machine's location should help - the tree-studded rolling hills around Harima are only 60 minutes from the new Kansai International Airport, which serves Osaka, Kyoto and Nara and their considerable scientific communities.