ISIS@MACH: A new partnership between ISIS and the Lazio region of Italy
22 Oct 2019
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A new Research Infrastructure, ISIS@MACH, (Lazio Region, Italy), a partnership with ISIS Pulsed Neutron and Muon Source (Oxfordshire-United Kingdom)

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The University of Rome “Tor Vergata" and Region Lazio have announced the creation of ISIS@MACH (MAterials Characterisation Hub), a new Research Infrastructure based in Italy in the Region Lazio, acting as a Hub of the UK based ISIS pulsed neutron and muon source, a research facility run by the UK's Science and Technology Facilities Council. The project is funded by Region Lazio under the specific funding programme POR FESR 2014-2020 to strengthen Research Infrastructures.

This represents a new stage in the longstanding relationship between the two institutions, dating back to 1985, which will enable both Italian and UK researchers to pool knowledge and experience with collaborators across UK and Italy, respectively, recognising the value neutron and muon probes bring to multidisciplinary research. 

Jill Morris, British Ambassador to Italy said: “ISIS@MACH is a fine example of the excellent level of collaboration between Italy and the UK. The British Embassy in Rome and the UK Science & Innovation Network are extremely proud to have contributed over the years - through numerous initiatives - to further strengthening and promoting our bilateral partnership for such an innovative project."

Daniele Leodori, Vice-President ​of Region Lazio, said: “This is a flagship European partnership of which both Region Lazio-Italy and the UK can be proud. I am told that since 1985, the collaboration between academics from University of Rome Tor Vergata and scientists from ISIS neutron and muon source has continued to blossom with great enthusiasm and committement on both parts. We look forward to the continued success of this collaboration between the two cou​ntries far into the future."

Understanding the properties of materials on the nanoscale provides the opportunity to develop advanced materials, tailoring their properties for specific applications, tackling global challenges across life, chemical, medical, physical and engineering sciences as well as in arts, heritage and archaeology. There is increasing recognition that addressing varied problems such as green energy or antibiotic resistance, the digital economy or food security, requires a multidisciplinary approach. The University of Rome “Tor Vergata", the Center for Studies and Research “Enrico Fermi" at ISIS@MACH and the ISIS neutron and muon source will work together bringing expertise in areas including aerospace engineering, biomaterials, building greener economies, cultural heritage, and energy research. 

Professor Robert McGreevy, Director of ISIS said: “We are delighted to be able to celebrate the inauguration of ISIS@MACH with our friends and colleagues from University of Rome “Tor Vergata", Centro Fermi and Region Lazio. Our partnership has brought extensive benefits not just to our two Institutions but to the wider scientific community."​ 

Prof. Luisa Cifarelli, President of Museo Storico della Fisica e Centro Studi e Ricerche Enrico Fermi,​ said: “In the longer term, we expect to see the ISIS@MACH enable advances in a wide range of applications, from aerospace, health care, cultural heritage, engineering, energy, green economy and ICT."

ISIS@MACH will provide essential tools for carrying out comprehensive multidisciplinary projects from nano-characterisation to synthesis, technique development to numerical simulation. It will also strengthen links between Italian researchers and the wider neutron and muon communities. This is the first ISIS hub outside of the UK, providing neutron and muon users with a new suite of complementary characterisation techniques. The creation of the Hub is a natural consequence of the continuous collaboration between ISIS and “Tor Vergata", involving a large number of students and researchers, and an increasing number of industrial partners. Another area to benefit will be cultural heritage research. Neutrons and muons are non-destructive tools for peering deep into materials, which can provide a range of insights, for example how an object was made, the impact of conservation methodologies or whether and how the object has been restored.​

​Prof Giuseppe Novelli, Rector of University of Rome Tor Vergata said: “It is wonderful to mark this milestone in the relationship between ISIS and Italy. I am proud that University of Rome “Tor Vergata" has proposed the creation of ISIS@MACH, the first Research Infrastructure based at a Campus of an Italian University. Tor Vergata continues to be the Italian academic partner with higher capacity for the use of ISIS source; in the last 4 years over 17 MSc. Students, 6 Ph.D students, and 30 Post Docs, researchers and professors from all disciplines have been trained in neutron scattering techniques and carried out experiments at the ISIS neutron and muon source and over 10 UK Professors and researchers from the ISIS neutron and muon research facility in the UK have visited University Rome Tor Vergata for Research and teaching activities."

Prof. Aldo di Carlo, coordinator ISIS@MACH said: We will work jointly with the ISIS team to make the access of users to the instrumentation based at ISIS@MACH and at ISIS a key element of the near future Italian research infrastructure strategy"

ISIS@MACH details

ISIS@MACH is a Research Infrastructure for carrying out multidisciplinary research at the nanoscale, enabling coordinated access of users to the infrastructures needed for different aspects of nanoscience research. Experts specialized in growth, nano-lithography, nano-characterization, theory and simulation, together with fine-analysis experts specialized in the use of neutron and muon probes, are integrated in a multi-site combination to develop frontier research on methods for reproducible nanoscience research and to enable I-UK and international researchers from diverse disciplines to carry out advanced research impacting science and innovation.

​The users access at ISIS@MACH in Region Lazio includes a “network of instrumentation" and is coordinated through a single entry point portal to the ISIS pulsed neutron and muon source in Oxfordshire (UK) that is managed and funded by the UK's Science and Technology Facilities Council on behalf of the UK Government.

Approved user projects will have access to ISIS@MACH suite of instruments and support for performing services and analysis of materials at both the Hub in the Region Lazio and STFC's ISIS neutron and muon source research facility.

Cultural heritage was not originally a commonly studied area at ISIS, but as a result of the collaboration with Tor Vergata and the variety of research that followed, cultural heritage has expanded along with a number of other research areas. For example, the instrument Engin-X was used to study the Ghiberti Heads, portrait sculptures of prophets by Lorenzo Ghiberti which date back to the Renaissance.

Other areas of research stemming from the Italian relationship stretch from proton motion in ice, to biological systems with health applications, such as the use of nanoparticles in drug delivery and lipid vesicle studies.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is part of UK Research and Innovation – the UK body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. STFC funds and supports research in particle and nuclear physics, astronomy, gravitational research and astrophysics, and space science and also operates a network of five national laboratories as well as supporting UK research at a number of international research facilities including CERN, FERMILAB, the ESO telescopes in Chile and many more. Visit stfc.ukri.org​ for more information.



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