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.
Today sees IMAT, the latest ISIS instrument to come online, officially inaugurated in a joint celebration with the Italian Research Council, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR). IMAT will provide new capabilities in 3D neutron imaging and diffraction and is expected to have a wide range of applications including materials science, engineering, cultural heritage and earth science.
The Nobel Prize in Physics 2016 has been awarded to David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz "for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter". Prof Robert McGreevy, Director of ISIS, says, “We are delighted to hear the news of the Nobel prize being awarded to Kosterlitz, Thouless and Haldane – three pioneers in the field of condensed matter physics, whose work underpins a growing area of research at ISIS. Their recognition of the importance of topology and that topological defects interact and participate in phase transitions, allowed huge progress in our understanding how a wide range of materials behave.”
The ISIS Molecular Spectroscopy Group and ILL Computing for Science Group will hold the next MDANSE (Molecular Dynamics and Lattice Dynamics to Analyse Neutron Scattering Experiments) workshop at the Cosener’s House, Abingdon, UK from the 10th to 12th of November 2016.
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 now been operating for over 30 years. During this period, there has been no significant work carried out to maintain or develop the internals of TS1. The ISIS First Target Station project aims to refurbish much of TS1 to ensure its continued operation for many years into the future.
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.
Water is vital to life on planet Earth. We see it every day, we drink and bathe in it; we use it to clean, cook, grow crops, provide energy, and we complain when it falls from the skies. It makes up around two thirds of a healthy human, and covers 70% of the Earth’s surface. Yet, despite its importance in everyday life, water has managed to retain some of its mystery.
Less than 2% of small molecules, including therapeutics, are able to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and reach the brain from the bloodstream. The blood-brain barrier is a semi-permeable barrier that separates the extracellular fluid surrounding the brain from circulating blood. Separating the brain from the bloodstream, it protects the brain against any sort of toxins in the blood. Its protective nature is because of its high selectivity; however, this also means it is difficult to deliver therapeutics to the brain.
As we move away from our dependency on fossil fuels and work towards cleaner energy resources and chemical conversion it is key to further our understanding of catalysis. Whether it’s assisting reactions in energy transformations, providing chemicals with increased efficiency or getting rid of, or preventing, waste, catalysis will help in the move towards a greener future. Progress in catalytic science and its applications requires an understanding of what is taking place with the catalyst at the molecular level, which is where techniques such as neutron scattering are invaluable.
Materials that display localised electronic or magnetic behaviour are of wide interest in physics. One reason is that they can provide insights into unusual quantum phenomena, as seen in single molecular magnets for example. An international group of scientists have been using neutrons to study calcium ferrate to understand how different magnetic arrangements are distributed throughout the material. Surprisingly they found that the phases existed in tiny regions only a few nanometres across, containing localised waves of magnetic excitations. This discovery could lead to the use of magnetic materials in a similar fashion to photonic crystals.