The thrill of delivering first neutrons to the Second Target Station last year has been more than matched by the scientific commissioning and early operation of its instrument suite.
The first seven instruments have been completed - on time, on budget, and to specification – and have demonstrated performance capabilities that are exceeding the expectation of the instruments scientists themselves!
This is a tremendous achievement. My thanks go to all who have contributed to the success of the TS-2 project: ISIS staff, the user community, external contractors and companies. And we must not forget those who have kept ISIS operating at the top of its game delivering a world-leading programme while all this was happening. Tremendous indeed!
Whilst we rightly focus on the success of the Second Target Station, the main scientific delivery from ISIS still rests with the efficient and effective operation of the existing target. This target station, with its fully developed instrument suite, highly sophisticated sample environment equipment and dedicated user support teams, has set the standard to which the new sources being developed elsewhere aspire. In addition, the Second Target Station instrument suite represents innovation not yet being contemplated anywhere in the world. Taken as an entity, ISIS is, and is destined to remain for some considerable time, the world’s premier pulsed neutron facility
As we introduce new instruments, we also say ‘goodbye’ to old friends – the HET spectrometer, a flagship ISIS instrument for 24 years, finally closed as the new chopper machine Merlin (with a performance some 30 times greater) came online. And Prisma, the pioneering single crystal spectrometer developed through our Italian collaborations, also saw its last experiment.
Beyond ISIS itself we can look forward to developments on the wider Harwell campus that will further feed ISIS science. The Research Complex at Harwell opens its doors at the end of the year to foster experimental programmes in support of ISIS, Diamond and the Laser Facilities at RAL, and to attract new science capabilities and develop new partnerships.
The ISIS user programme is fully aligned with the developing STFC strategy and delivers ‘impact’ in all senses of the word: impact through the science programme, through innovation, inspiration, the nurturing of skills, attracting inward investment to the Harwell Campus and underpinning economic well-being by addressing key science-led government challenges.
These are difficult times for the economy and we recognise that pragmatic short term budget savings needed to be made. Nevertheless we are confident that a proper evaluation of STFC’s priorities will soon restore the ISIS user programme to an appropriate level of operation.
Andrew D. Taylor