RIKEN is made up of a network of world-class research centres across Japan, together with centres around the world of which the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), where ISIS is based, is a key partner. Most notably, the two institutions have had a continuous agreement regarding the RIKEN-RAL Muon Facility since 1990. During this period, RIKEN constructed, owned, and operated four muon experimental areas at ISIS and ran a successful user programme which has produced over 500 publications.
The current agreement between RIKEN and ISIS was signed in 2018 and ends on 31 March 2023. It has seen RIKEN and ISIS partnering in the refurbishment of the facility after 30 years of successful operations for Japanese and UK researchers. To mark the occasion, a special event took place at RAL at which representatives from RIKEN and ISIS, together with staff from the Embassy of Japan in the UK and from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), reflected on three decades of partnership.
Dr Philip King, Director of the RIKEN office at RAL and Associate Director at the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, said, “The RIKEN-RAL partnership has been one of the largest, longest-lasting, and most successful UK-Japan science partnerships. For over 30 years RIKEN and ISIS have been collaborating in a wide range of science using muons – fundamental studies, condensed matter and chemical physics investigations, and applied research such as battery materials. While this event marks the end of an era in some respects, RIKEN and ISIS will continue to collaborate in areas of mutual interest and ISIS continues to welcome Japanese users to the facility."
The RIKEN-RAL Muon Facility , based in ISIS Target Station 1, was owned and operated by RIKEN for fundamental and applied studies using muons. In 2018, ownership and operations passed to ISIS, with RIKEN and ISIS collaborating on a significant refurbishment of the facility as well as Japanese and UK users continuing partnerships in research . Over the years it has produced over 500 papers, had researchers from over 90 Japanese institutions directly accessing the facility, and stimulated collaborations with a further 40 institutions around the world. This has included development of collaborations in muon science with several Southeast Asian countries and the fostering of early-career researchers to lead muon activities in these countries. It has also resulted in tens of millions of pounds of RIKEN investment into ISIS over its lifetime.
Over the years, the RIKEN-RAL facility has enabled research ranging from materials science to muon catalysed fusion. Projects have included:
- detecting the signatures of fusion energy (muon-catalysed fusion) to underpin the science behind the search for generating alternative, clean energy
- studies of the properties of organic LEDs used in camera and mobile phone devices to make the images brighter and to produce thinner displays
- studying the movement of electrical charge around laptop and mobile phone battery materials as part of a collaboration with Toyota Central R&D Labs.
The event at RAL on 14th March was attended by Executive Directors and other senior staff from RIKEN and STFC, the First Secretary, Science and Technology, from the Embassy of Japan in the UK, staff from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and others who have been involved with the RIKEN-RAL Muon Facility. It consisted of talks highlighting the achievements of the facility over 30 years. It also included the signing of an MoU between the RIKEN Nishina Centre and ISIS for continued partnership.