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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.