ISIS is the world’s most successful pulsed spallation neutron source. The facility provides beams of neutrons and muons that enable scientists to probe the microscopic structure and dynamics of matter.
The benefits of neutron scattering coupled with the strengths of the ISIS pulsed source have been responsible for the emergence of a world-class research programme at the facility, covering topics at the forefront of Physics, Chemistry, Materials Science, Earth Science, Engineering and Biology. Examples of ISIS science are presented in this section.
Scientists have identified a potential new target for the development of anticancer drugs against metastatic breast cancer. In a novel series of experiments, whole human cells were analysed with neutrons for the first time and the results revealed that the water within cells responded to the widely used chemotherapy drug, cisplatin. This study highlights the potential of intracellular water as an additional target for the development of new anticancer drugs, which could lead to higher efficiency, fewer cases of acquired resistance and less deleterious secondary drug effects in the treatment of breast cancer.
Neutron scattering at ISIS gives a unique insight into the geological processes of the Earth's surface and core, and is also being used to answer current questions about the Earth's natural environment.
Chemistry applications of ISIS include studies of catalyst action, the behaviour of ions in solution, atmospheric reactions, radical reactions, molecular dynamics, liquid dynamics, hydrogen bonding . . . to name but a few.
Soft matter encompasses a wide range of substances including polymers, surfactants (including detergents), liquid crystals, micelles (clumps of polar molecules), and microemulsions. All of these share the same basi properties – weak interactions between structural units and large numbers of ways to arrange themselves internally. And when they are touched, they actually feel soft.
Small angle neutron scattering is a neutron technique able to probe structures at length scales from around 1 nanometre to more than 100 nanometres. It has a wide range of applications from studies of polymers and biological molecules to nanoparticles to microemulsions and liposomes used for cosmetics and drug delivery.