£90M to transform ISIS capacity and capabilities through the Endeavour Programme
30 Jun 2023



PRESS RELEASE: The Science Technology and Facilities Council (STFC) has launched Endeavour: a £90 million programme of improvements and instruments to supercharge the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source.




The Science Technology and Facilities Council has launched Endeavour: a £90 million programme of improvements and instruments to supercharge one of the UK’s large scale national laboratories. Endeavour will support the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source (ISIS) to probe the structure of materials with unprecedented detail to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of global materials research. 

ISIS is an internationally recognised, flagship UK research facility and conducts a range of ground-breaking research.  The experiments undertaken at ISIS have been vital to understand silicon batteries necessary to operate smart phones as well as various chemicals needed to develop new medicines.  They have also helped engineers stress-test aircraft components and protect electric vehicles against space weather events that could prevent them from functioning. 

​Endeavour will increase ISIS’ capacity and capability and enable its scientific user base to explore new areas of research. This includes already identified research to develop new, environmentally friendly refrigerants and materials necessary for clean energy generation. Through work such as this, it will expand the scope of the facility to attract global talent and further investment.

Professor Mark Thomson, Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Executive Chair, said:
“Investment in critical research infrastructure such as this is essential to equip UK scientists to remain at the cutting edge of scientific progress and innovation, to address the ever-changing needs of society. Through Endeavour, STFC will facilitate exciting new research that will play a key role in helping us to protect against threats from global health crises to climate change. It will provide UK researchers with world-leading tools to transform our understanding of new materials and chemical processes that will support the UK’s ambitious science and technology strategy.”

The ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, located at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire generates powerful beams of subatomic particles called neutrons and muons. These beams are directed at different materials, and scientific instruments are used to analyse the interactions of neutrons and muons with these materials to provide insights into their structure. These can be used to develop new and improved products with better performance, longer lifetimes, and greater energy efficiency.

The new instruments which form part of Endeavour include a Multi-Use Spectrometer for High-Rate Observations of Materials or MUSHROOM instrument. MUSHROOM will enable specialised neutron experiments on significantly smaller samples than is currently possible. Potential uses include analysis and development of barocaloric materials which could be the future of environmentally 
friendly refrigerants in food storage and computing. 

Endeavour will also include upgrades of existing ISIS instruments such as OSIRIS. Upgrading this spectrometer will deliver a fivefold increase in productivity and increase sensitivity. This will aid studies in energy materials, enhancing work to improve vehicle emission-control, alongside industrial users such as General Motors and Proctor & Gamble.

Dr Alan Partridge, STFC Executive Director for National Laboratories: Large Scale Facilities, said:
“This is the single largest investment in ISIS since the construction of the Second Target Station between 2003 and 2008. That investment enabled the delivery of UK research which wouldn’t have otherwise been possible, such as testing the integrity of nuclear power station components to extend their lifetime by up to eight years. Looking ahead, it’s exciting to think what research 
Endeavour might make possible and the problems that it will help us to solve.”

Endeavour is organised around three principle societal challenges: 

Materials for the future
Clean energy and growth
Life science and healthcare. 

The aim of the programme is to increase our understanding of the structure of materials and facilitate the development of new, improved materials aligned to these challenges. This will include:

Catalyst analysis and improvement for chemical industries
research into novel materials for carbon capture and sequestration
improvement and development of vaccine manufacturing and delivery components. 

In addressing these challenges, Endeavour will contribute to several UK Government science and technology strategies such as net zero and help to secure the UK’s status as a Science and Technology Superpower by 2030. 

Endeavour is majority funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Infrastructure Fund. It is a component of the UKRI and STFC strategic delivery plans and forms part of several UKRI and STFC strategies such as the development of a skilled STEM workforce as part of the UKRI R&D People and Culture Strategy.

Construction on Endeavour will begin in Summer 2023.

Contact: Fletcher, Sara (STFC,RAL,SPC)