ISIS is a world-leading centre for research in the physical and life sciences at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford in the United Kingdom. Our suite of neutron and muon instruments gives unique insights into the properties of materials on the atomic scale. 

We support a national and international community of more than 3000 scientists for research into subjects ranging from clean energy and the environment, pharmaceuticals and health care, through to nanotechnology and materials engineering, catalysis and polymers, and on to fundamental studies of materials.

News and Events

ISIS Physicist, Dr David Keen
ISIS features in Max Alexander’s exhibition ‘Illuminating Atoms’

Friday 21 November 2014

From snowflakes to grains of salt, diamonds to proteins, crystals are found everywhere in nature. Throughout history people have been intrigued by their beauty and symmetry. 2014 marks the International Year of Crystallography, to celebrate 100 years since the discovery that X-rays (and later, neutrons) can be used to ‘see’ inside matter. In the 100 years since its discovery, crystallography has seen great progress in the study of materials, leading to advances in all scientific disciplines.

ISIS molecular spectroscopy meeting
ISIS Molecular Spectroscopy Science Meeting 2015

Thursday 29 January 2015

The ISIS Molecular Spectroscopy Group will hold its next science meeting at the Cosener’s House, Abingdon on the 29th and 30th of January 2015

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UK-ESS interactions and opportunities meeting

Wednesday 03 December 2014

Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. A meeting to discuss the UK's interactions with the ESS.

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SANDALS 25th Anniversary Meeting & EPSR Workshop

Tuesday 06 January 2015

December 2014 will be 25 years since the first neutrons appeared on SANDALS - 4th December 1989! To celebrate this occasion we are holding a Disordered Materials Science Meeting, 6-7 January 2015, at The Cosener's House. Following the SANDALS meeting, we will be holding another EPSR (Empirical Potential Structure Refinement) workshop at The Cosener's House, 8 – 9 January 2015.

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ISIS Crystallography User Group and BCA PCG meeting

Monday 10 November 2014

The Joint ISIS Crystallography User Group Meeting and the Winter Meeting of the PCG-SCMP will take place on 10 & 11 November 2014 at The Cosener's House, Abingdon.

Open Day Poster
National Particle Accelerator Open Day

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Join us for an afternoon of talks, exhibitions and tours to highlight the exciting and important careers available designing, building and operating particle accelerators for undergraduates.

Conference delegates
Neutron Characterisation in Fundamental and Applied Biotechnology

Thursday 02 October 2014

More than 40 scientists came together in September at Cosener’s House in Abingdon, UK, for the first ever Neutron Characterisation in Fundamental and Applied Biotechnology (NCFAB) conference. The three day meeting provided insights into the applications of neutrons in biotechnological research, with lectures given by established experts in biotechnology topics. The conference was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and was jointly organised by STFC’s ISIS facility, University College London, and the University of Delaware.

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An Introduction to Neutron Techniques in Catalysis

Monday 03 November 2014

The UK Catalysis Hub in association with the ISIS Neutron and Muon Facility are pleased to announce a two day meeting on neutron scattering with an emphasis on catalytically relevant techniques. This will take place at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Oxfordshire.

New UK facility aims to protect next generation microchips from cosmic ray chaos

UK scientists have built a new facility aimed at understanding how particles from space can interact with electronic devices, and to investigate the chaos that cosmic rays can cause – such as taking communications satellites offline, wiping a device's memory or affecting aircraft electronics. ChipIR has successfully completed its first round of development testing before going in to full operation in 2015.

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Changes for ISIS Users – things which might affect you!

Tuesday 12 August 2014

We are making changes which will affect all ISIS users. These include changes to proposal access routes. We are also relaunching experimental reports, and we are changing some of the travel, subsistence and consumables arrangements for UK users.

Major Instrument and Accelerator Projects

Target Station 2 Phase 2

2015 will see both the capacity and capability of ISIS increase with two new instruments coming online. Target station 2 started operation in 2008 with 7 neutron instruments, and now two new instruments, ChipIR and Larmor have received first neutrons and are beginning their commissioning phases. A further two instruments, IMAT and ZOOM, are under construction.

TS1 Upgrade Project

The ISIS first target station – TS1 – has been operating since ISIS started up in 1984. With the experience gained from the new TS2, and the ability to use computer modelling to simulate target station performance, there is now a significant opportunity to upgrade TS1.

TOSCA and MAPS guide projects

Design on the new guides for Maps and Tosca has started with the aim of having the upgraded instruments running sometime in 2016.

Replacement of muon beamline magnets

The ISIS muon facility has been operating since 1987, and some of the muon beamline magnets were second-hand then – they are now over 50 years old in some cases. During the long shutdown in 2014/5, the quadrupoles near the muon target will be replaced.

Linac Tank 4 Replacement

The ISIS linear accelerator (linac) consists of 4 radiofrequency (RF) accelerating tanks, accelerating hydrogen ions generated in the ion source to 37% of the speed of light before feeding them into the synchrotron for final acceleration. Tanks 1 and 4 were built at RAL in 1976, for ISIS’ predecessor, Nimrod. They are now showing their age, so a project is underway to replace tank 4 by 2018.

Refurbishing part of the first target station proton beamline (EPB1)

EPB1 is made up of 68 magnets all of which are roughly 50 years old. Many of the electrical windings of these magnets are deteriorating (especially in high radiation-dose areas near the downstream end of EPB1). Replacement of magnets upstream of the muon target and between the muon target and the neutron target will take place during the 2014/15 shutdown.

Science at ISIS

Dendrimer/Nucleolipid complex
Can you recognise nucleic acids? No, but nucleolipid-dendrimer complexes can!

Friday 14 November 2014

Genetic disorders can be caused by mutations within the individual’s genetic code, resulting in the formation of non-functioning proteins. Normal cellular processes are therefore inhibited. It may be possible to treat these disorders using what is called ‘gene therapy’. Gene therapy involves the insertion of a healthy gene into the individual, allowing a normal, functioning protein to be expressed, or the suppression of a defective protein. Research carried out at STFC’s ISIS facility may have found one of the first steps in advancing the use of gene therapy by studying the molecular interactions between DNA and RNA, and potential gene delivery systems.

Schematic of the structure of a typical perovskite
Helping the hunt for lead-free piezoelectrics

Friday 07 November 2014

Piezoelectrics are a class of material that generates an electric charge when subject to mechanical stress. Discovered by Pierre and Jacques Curie in 1880, an early application of the phenomenon was in sonar during the First World War. Since then they’ve been applied in a wide range of sectors from watches to automotive and medical applications. PbZr1-xTixO3, or PZT, is one of the most widely used piezoelectrics because of its high performance. A group of scientists have been using GEM and HRPD at ISIS to understanding the relationship between PZT’s structure and its performance. Their research has been published in Nature Communications.

Neutrons and colliding particles encourage hopes for nanotech revolution

Wednesday 05 November 2014

Carbon plays a crucial role as a building block for nanotechnology. Carbon nanosystems have shown a number of commercially desirable properties such as super lubricity and super diffusion, as well as great strength and hardness. These properties give them numerous potential applications- such as in solar cells, hydrogen storage, environmental remediation and in biomedicine.

Side-view of the composite sample of FePS3 showing the 17 co-aligned c
Testing a “model” magnetic system

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Many real magnetic materials are called “model” systems, meaning they are believed to be good test candidates for understanding new physical phenomena. However, before looking for predicted novel phenomena, it is important to determine just how close a system is to being a model magnetic system. In a recent experiment on the Merlin instrument at ISIS, Dr Andrew Wildes and Ms Diane Lançon of the ILL endeavoured to reveal the degree of model status for one candidate material – FePS3. The experiment demonstrated that the high neutron flux available on the instrument enables samples as small as 0.3 g to be studied.

Making an impact

Impact of Neutron Scattering brochure
Neutron Scattering: Materials research for modern life

Thursday 22 November 2012

Read about the social and economic impact of neutron scattering in a new brochure highlighting key examples of the use of the technique.

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