Science Minister announces £11 million funding for new instruments at ISIS

Monday 14 March 2011

David Willetts MP

David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science addressing ISIS staff and annouching the funding for the Chipir instrument.
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During a visit to ISIS on 14 March 2011, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts announced an £11 million investment to start the second phase of instruments at the ISIS second target station.

The first instrument to receive funding is Chipir, the first dedicated facility outside of the US to look at how silicon microchips respond to cosmic radiation. It will use an intense beam of high-energy neutrons produced by ISIS.

Cosmic radiation has the power to cause the failure of electronic systems, particularly in aircraft and road vehicles. Problems can range from wiping a device’s memory to complete destruction of the electronics. The new neutron beam line will replicate the cosmic radiation affecting microchips from 100 years of flying time in the space of an hour. The findings will help manufacturers build more reliable electronic systems, which will in turn make planes and cars safer.

Announcing the funding during a visit to the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said:

“Chipir will be the world’s best facility for screening microchips with neutrons, leading to safer, more reliable electronic systems and encouraging leading scientists and manufacturers to do their research in the UK.

Listen to speech given by David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science at ISIS on 14 March 2011

“I think we can be very proud of the quality of the pure science here, but also I think we can be proud of the efforts that you’re making to explain to a wider audience the practical implications of what you’re doing. When I can understand anything from how you are able to use bombardment by neutrons to see exactly where faults might have been in a weld on a piece of kit inside a formula one car, through to how you can use these techniques to assess the safety of an aeroplane, I can see the practical value of what you do. So thank you very much indeed for what you’re doing here.”

Chipir will be funded by the Large Facilities Capital Fund, which is administered by central Government. The investment will cover the construction of the facility and the necessary software to record the data from the microchip testing.

“I am absolutely delighted that the Chipir project is being funded as I have been working with colleagues from UK and European industry over the last few years to study the huge impact that cosmic ray neutrons can have on the operation and reliability of modern electronics,” said Chipir Project Scientist Dr Chris Frost.

“Our all pervasive reliance on electronics in everything from aircraft systems to medical equipment to computer and communication networks means that making ISIS a key tool for understanding and overcoming this industry wide problem is a very exciting prospect.”

 

Julian Eastoe and David Willetts MP

Image shows Professor Julian Eastoe, Bristol University briefing David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and ScienceRt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science on his group's research on the SANS2d instrument.
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Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Scien

Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science visited ISIS on 14th March 2011. Image shows Professor Sean Langridge explaining Large Scale Structures research at ISIS to the minister.
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David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science

Image shows David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science, left, with Dr Andrew Taylor, Head of ISIS.
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