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.
In the week of 12 – 17 May, 22 students travelled to the ISIS facility in the UK to learn about muon spectroscopy at the ISIS Muon Spectroscopy Training School. 2014 was an exceptional year with the school receiving twice as many applications as in previous editions. Ines Crespo from NMI3, which provided support for the course, meets the participants.
Professor Roberto De Renzi from the University of Parma has been awarded the 2014 Yamazaki Prize for muon science. He is recognised for his sustained and exceptional contributions to the development of the muon spin relaxation (μSR) technique to investigate solid-state physics.
Neutron based measurements are well established in colloidal science and studies of synthetic polymers and complex fluids. More recent interests have included fundamental biophysical studies in protein structure and assembly, but many researchers in biochemistry, applied biophysics, and the biotechnology industry remain relatively unfamiliar with the range of neutron-based techniques and their ability to answer questions about macromolecule structure, morphology, and dynamics in bulk solution and at interfaces. This inaugural meeting is intended to provide a venue for students and established researchers to learn about the application of neutron science to fundamental biophysical studies proteins and other biological macromolecules, with a long-term view of enhancing the use of these techniques in biotechnology applications.
An agreement has also been signed to promote collaboration between ISIS and the China Spallation Neutron Source (CSNS), part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The CSNS is currently under construction in Dongguan city, Guangdong Province and is set to become China’s national facility in 2018.
Sample environment support is a vital element in the success of neutron scattering experiments. The 8th International Workshop on Sample Environment at Neutron Scattering Facilities will bring together scientists, engineers and technicians, as well as leading suppliers, to exchange experience, form collaborations and discuss new ideas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Researchers at the University of Sheffield, University of Durham and ISIS in collaboration with Start-up Company Ossila are using neutron reflectometry to look the formation of plastic solar cell films with the goal of developing devices which efficiently harness the power of the sun whilst being cheaper and easier to manufacture than the current silicon solar cells.
Ultrasonic peening (UP) is a technique for improving the fatigue performance of welded joints. Little research has been done on how UP-treated welds behave when they are subjected to real world conditions such as compressive overload or variable amplitude loading. Lloyd’s Register provides quality assurance to the marine industry, and they have been using ENGIN-X to investigate UP welded joints in these conditions. Understanding the process and its benefits will allow improved control of fatigue cracking, lower maintenance costs, and extending the life of welded connections in marine and other industries.
Introduction of new designs, novel fabrication methods or modifications to existing plant in the nuclear power generation industry are subject to intense scrutiny to ensure that safety is not compromised. Multi-national corporation AREVA has designed the new European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) to meet stringent demands for increased safety and reduced cost of electricity generation. A twin EPR power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset is planned and will be constructed using modern welding technology.
Studies at ISIS have revealed that packaging platinum and palladium based anti-cancer drugs in a sugary coating protects them from being captured by natural antioxidants in the body. The coating also helps solubilise the drugs in an aqueous media giving them the added potential to be taken orally rather than injected intravenously. The research was led by Dr Maria Paula Marques, Molecular Physical-Chemistry R&D Centre - Coimbra University, Portugal, along with Dr Luís Batista de Carvalho.