A year around ISIS

A round up of the last year at ISIS...

ISIS neutron training course

The annual ISIS neutron training course took place in February. This course is designed to provide practical experience of setting up and running neutron scattering experiments on a wide variety of instruments at ISIS for researchers new to neutron techniques. This year 24 participants came from UK universities – mainly postgraduate students and some post-docs. After an initial day of talks, the participants conducted real neutron experiments and then learnt data analysis techniques. Judging from the course feedback, the training was well-appreciated by all the participants - although many of them felt that the course was too short! You can never get enough of a good thing.

neutron training course

Aziz Daoud-Aladine (left) supervises Philip Merchant (UCL) loading a single crystal sample on SXD. (left to right) Chris Lester (Bristol), Dan Porter (Royal Holloway), Pabitra Biswas (Warwick) and Dean Whittaker (Bath) look on.
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Young engineers help ISIS beam monitoring

As part of the Engineering Education Scheme (England), the accelerator diagnostics section worked with a team of A-Level students from Kennet School, Thatcham, to build a new calibration system for the ISIS split electrode position monitors.  The new system uses stepper motors to move a copper pipe carrying a signal around the monitor. It has significantly decreased the time it takes to calibrate a monitor as historically this has been done manually without the aid of motors.

young engineers

Students from Kennet School with the new split electrode position monitors.
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A farewell to old friends!

As new TS-1 and TS-2 instruments come on-line, ISIS bids farewell to instruments that are being replaced by the next generation of spectrometers and diffractometers.  This year saw final beam on HET and Prisma after many years of sterling service.


Professor Keith McEwen and Dr Helen Walker (University College London) and Devashibhai Adroja (ISIS) explored the crystal field levels in the rare earth tetraborides during the final experiment on HET in October.
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farewell 1

(left to right) Pascal Manuel (ISIS), Carla Andreani (University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy), Uschi Steigenberger, Martyn Bull and Steve Payne (ISIS) celebrate Prisma’s successes following the final experiment on the instrument.
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Workshop in computational methods for the exploitation of vibrational spectra

This workshop was run at RAL by ISIS in November 2008 and attended by 29 participants.  Its aims were to show how computational methods can be used for the exploitation of vibrational spectra in studies of molecular motions and dynamics. The course was largely practical and involved exploring the applications of state-of-the-art software (Gaussian03, DMOL3, CASTEP). Half of the participants were not regular neutron users, and interest in the workshop was high.


Keith Refson (ISIS) demonstrating software during the computational methods workshop.
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family and friends

ISIS held an open morning in August to enable staff and contractors to bring friends and family to see the new Second Target Station building and to learn about the facility. Here, Chris Frost (ISIS) is wowing visitors with science demonstrations.
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Oxford Isotope Facility 

The Oxford Isotope Facility is funded by STFC and is based in the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory in Oxford. It aims to provide deuterium labelled materials for the UK neutron scattering community for experiments at ISIS, ILL and elsewhere.

Contrast manipulation, by H/D isotopic substitution, is the main feature that makes neutron scattering an attractive and unique tool for the study of soft matter. Recent examples include a detailed study of the effects of hydroxybenzoate on the self assembly of surfactant CTAB. Deuterium labelling enabled the locations of the hydroxybenzoate at the surfactant interface to be deduced.

The Oxford Isotope Facility provides small molecule deuteration, materials such as fatty acids, alcohols, bromoalkanes, and a wide range of surfactants. 

Further details can be obtained from Jeff Penfold at ISIS (jeff.penfold@stfc.ac.uk) or Bob Thomas at Oxford (robert.thomas@chem.ox.ac.uk)


Workshop on neutron reflection methods for the study of biomolecular systems.

Neutron scattering measurements in soft condensed matter systems benefit greatly by the substitution of deuterium for hydrogen to vary the contrast with samples and their surroundings.  With the increasing complexity of biomolecular systems under study the direct deuteration of biomolecules, such as large proteins or many phospholipids, is far more complex than that for synthetic soft matter materials.  A workshop to discuss methods of contrast variation based upon buried magnetic reference layers was held at the Cosener’s House in January, attended by 36 participants from 8 countries. Presentations included examples of the method and systems which would benefit from the method’s development.

workshop neutrons

Attendees at the workshop on studying biomolecular systems using neutron reflection.
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ISIS in the media

ISIS has made the news in a number of ways this year!  This includes a variety of specialised press – for example, Plant Engineer magazine featured an article on the ‘extreme plant’ operated routinely by ISIS; ISIS Engineers Hanna Fikremarium, Chris Benson and Sean Higgins featured in Professional Engineering, published by the Institute of Mechanical Engineering; and the ISIS timing and control systems were featured in Pinpoint, the magazine for the Location and Timing Knowledge Transfer Network. Facility Director Andrew Taylor has featured in a Public Life article in the Daily Telegraph, and been interviewed about the Second Target Station project on Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme. ‘Metro’ newspaper described ISIS as a ‘21st Century Wonderland’ in their feature article in May!

isis in the media

Dr Martyn Bull, Head of ISIS Communications, being interviewed by science journalists visiting ISIS in July.
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ISIS People

Congratulations are due to a variety of ISIS staff this year.  Tim Broome, who played a key part in the development of ISIS, was awarded an MBE for services to science in the Queen's New Year's Honours. Tim has recently been pivotal in delivering the ISIS Second Target Station Project.  Speaking about the award, Andrew Taylor, ISIS Director said: ‘Tim brought a unique blend of physics understanding, engineering sense and operational practicality to this role. This is a fitting honour for an excellent scientist.’

isis people

Tim Broome after receiving his MBE from the Queen.
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Laurent Chapon has been appointed Visiting Professor at the CRISMAT Laboratory (Crystallography and Materials Science) in Caen, France, and is also now ISIS Crystallography Group Leader. Sean Langridge (Large Scale Structures Group Leader) has been appointed Visiting Professor of Physics at Durham University, and Mike Johnson has been appointed as an Honorary Fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

Several ISIS engineers have been awarded Chartered status this year: Hanna Fikremariam, Jim Nightingale, John Teah and Steph Tomlinson.

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