Design and Engineering of Neutron Instruments
17 Sep 2012



For two and a half days in September, ISIS hosted the first Design and Engineering of Neutron Instruments Meeting (DENIM 2012).

​DENIM group photo

The workshop brought together over fifty multidisciplinary  engineers from facilities across the globe, to discuss the technical aspects of designing and building neutron instruments. Facilities represented at the meeting included ISIS (UK), Delft University (the Netherlands), Institute of High Energy Physics - CSNS (China), ESS-S (Sweden), ANSTO  (Australia), NIST (USA), SNS (USA), Consorcio ESS-BILBAO (Spain),  Paul Scherrer Institut (Switzerland) and from Germany: TU Munich, Forschungszentrum Juelich and Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin. The workshop was also supported through presentations and trade stands by JJ-Xray (Denmark), Euro collimators (UK), SwissNeutronics (Switzerland), Astrium (Germany), Mirrotron (Hungary) and SKF Magnetic Bearings (Canada).   

Robert McGreevy (Director of ISIS) opened the meeting followed by Leigh Perrott’s overview of Engineering at ISIS. Each of the represented facilities presented an overview of their engineering approach to past, present and future projects interleaved with detailed technical presentations.

The concept for this meeting came about after many engineers commented, over a number of years, that there was no forum for discussing the techniques and successes of instrument design. Engineering of instruments are only touched on lightly at meetings such as ICANS and ECNS and so the concept for DENIM was created out of the need to share ideas, not only at a scientific level but also technical one. 

After approaching various facilities, it was obvious that there was appetite for the meeting and so ISIS formed an organising committee of instrument Engineers and the planning work commenced. The main aims of the meeting were to improve communications between engineers, at different facilities and the sharing of ideas, including failures and successes. The long-term objectives are to deliver shorter project duration, reduce the cost of instruments and improve the performance of instruments.

The Tuesday afternoon was dedicated to a small industry exhibition and tours, for participants, around ISIS and some of Rutherford Appleton Laboratory’s facilities. Engineers were shown around the WISH, OFFSPEC, NIMROD, ENGIN-X, HIFI and POLARIS instruments. They also had the opportunity to visit the ISIS chopper assembly lab, Technology department’s metrology facility and the Space Precision Fabrication Facility.

Tuesday evening was set aside for the dinner, which was held at the Williams Formula 1 Team’s Museum in Grove. Engineers were treated to a film history of the Williams team’s history and the chance to study the assembled F1 cars at close quarters. This was followed by a well received buffet in the trophy room, along with interesting discussions flicking between neutrons and racing cars.

Williams F1 car  

Williams F1 car
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The meeting was closed by a presentation and discussion around the subject of engineering within a scientific environment, led by Paris Constantine of the Bragg institute at ANSTO, Australia. Whilst it was possible that the meeting would be a one off, this will hopefully not be the case. In the discussion at the close of the meeting, the delegates were unanimous in their support for the meeting to be held again. 

Work will now begin to form an international organising committee and plan for DENIM2013. It is likely that the meeting will become an annual event, rotating around host facilities. If you are interested in more information or to be added to the mailing list for any future DENIM meetings please email Leigh Perrott (

Technical presentations were as follows:

  • The new TOF spectrometer NEAT vacuum vessel - L Drescher - HZB Berlin
  • Newly adopted metrology and alignment tools at the NIST Center for Neutron Research D Adler - NIST
  • SNS HYSPEC (Beamline 14B)  - D Anderson/M Harvey - SNS
  • Instrument development and projects at ZAT, R Hanslik – ZAT
  • Recent developments in motion control in extreme environments at PSI, T Gahl – PSI
  • Interlock systems and EMC shielded electronics rooms at ISIS - S Birch - ISIS
  • Choppers at ISIS - P Galsworthy - ISIS
  • Magnetic bearings for neutron choppers, E Mazzei & J Smithanik,  SKF