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 Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has announced its 2016 prizes and awards, which recognise the achievements of individuals, teams and organisations in advancing the chemical sciences. Several prizes have been awarded to scientists who have used ISIS to investigate areas such as computational science, electronic components, lithium batteries and in research towards industrial applications.
Richard Heenan isn’t really sure why he got the job at what was then the Spallation Neutron Source. “I’d done a PhD and two post docs, but I’d never done a SANS experiment. But it looked like an exciting job so I thought I’d apply!” The job in question was instrument scientist on LoQ, a small angle neutron scattering (SANS) beamline to be built in the first phase of instruments, and thirty years on Richard is a global expert on the SANS technique. This week sees a meeting on Future Applications of Small-Angle (Neutron) Scattering to Soft Matter, which will also celebrate Richard’s (partial!) retirement.
Congratulations to Bill David, senior scientist at ISIS, on being made a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS)! Bill has been with ISIS since the beginning, as the first instrument scientist on the High Resolution Powder Diffraction instrument (HRPD), and is now an STFC senior fellow, and he also holds a professorship at the University of Oxford.
Experiment report forms are an important way we account for beamtime usage at ISIS. They are used by Facility Access Panels to assess follow-up proposals, they help us understand likely outcomes from experiments, and they provide feedback on things we could improve - from experiment equipment to the coffee in Café Zoom!
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.
Scientists have discovered the much debated structure of a fundamental bacterial protein, through a combination of neutron and x-ray studies, and computational modelling The protein, known as a single-stranded DNA binding protein (SSB),is involved in a variety of essential DNA mechanisms such as replication and repair. Now the structure of this ‘messy’ protein has been found, it could present a new bullseye for future antibiotics to hit bacteria right at its heart.
The Eastern Wood frog’s ability to survive being frozen to temperatures as low as -8°C for weeks in North America is inspiring scientists to investigate how glycerol, nature’s answer to antifreeze, interacts with water to prevent harmful ice crystals from forming. The results are published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B.
Scientists have designed a novel catalyst that overcomes the challenge of breaking down complex plant components to produce some of the highest yields of biofuel. In the study, scientists used ISIS to see how a model of the plant material was broken down at the surface of the catalyst. These results bring us one step closer to lessening our dependence on fossil fuels, and are an important development in our shift towards renewable energy.
Methane storage in the form of gas hydrates, the so-called solid methane storage, has gained an increased interest in the last few years for safe and easy transportation of methane in short and long-distance applications. This approach is inspired in natural methane hydrates that grow in the deep sea and in permafrost under demanding pressure and temperature conditions. Research using TOSCA at the ISIS neutron source has paved the way towards using metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) as a potential platform to promote the nucleation and growth of methane hydrates.