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.
The ISIS summer student placement scheme allows undergraduate students studying for a degree in Science, Engineering, Computing or Media/Communications to gain experience working in the scientific environment at ISIS, a large scale international research facility.
The ISIS Practical Neutron Training Course is aimed at PhD and post-doctoral researchers who have little or no experience of neutron scattering, but whose future research program aims to make use of neutron scattering techniques at ISIS. We stress that this is a hand-on course using the ISIS neutron instruments aimed at complete beginners.
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.
For the first time, scientists have disarmed the anthrax toxin and converted it into a positive tool for delivering drugs for a specific form of gene therapy, an experimental technique that treats disease by replacing or inactivating faulty genes. During the development of this technology, scientists used the LOQ instrument at ISIS to characterise the system they’d built and see that the drug delivery molecules they had designed were behaving as predicted.
Using negative muons as a tool for elemental analysis is now possible at ISIS. Muon scientists, together with the Universities of Oxford and Warwick, are currently developing the technique on the RIKEN Port 4 to non-destructively probe the composition of archaeological objects – including gold and silver coins from the Roman period and the Mary Rose – paving the way for future studies on other archaeological artefacts, engineering samples, bio-systems, and battery materials.
Hidden ‘Damascus’ patterns in the steel used to make ancient Indo-Persian swords and daggers are being uncovered by collaborators from London’s Wallace Collection and CNR, Italy, during neutron diffraction experiments at ISIS. This work gives insight into the quality of the blades as well as helping curators identify ‘Damascus steel’.