The first agreement for this collaboration was signed in 1990 and has been one of the largest research collaboration projects between the UK and Japan. It has now been renewed three time, and the current agreement runs until 2023 and will see the refurbishment of the facility to ensure its ongoing use for many years to come. In addition, Japan (RIKEN, KEK, JAEA) has partnered ISIS in the building of
GEM neutron instruments.
The RIKEN-RAL Muon Facility, based in ISIS TS1, was owned and operated by RIKEN, Japan, for fundamental and applied studies using muons,
celebrating 30 years of collaboration in September 2020. In 2018, ownership and operations passed to ISIS, and ISIS and RIKEN are 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 facilty and stimulated collaborations with a further 40 institutions around the world including agreements between RIKEN and universities in Indonesia, Malaysia and Korea. It has resulted in tens of millions of pounds of investment into ISIS by RIKEN over its lifetime.
The RIKEN centre has taken a leading role in applied studies using muons and has developed a wide range of promising applications for societal benefit with research ranging from material science to muon catalyzed 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 and, in collaboration with Toyota Central R&D Labs., studying the movement of electrical charge around laptop and mobile phone battery materials.
The partnership also enabled the operation of a unique instrument, the
Chronus Spectrometer, making it easier for scientists to study materials under extreme conditions of pressure and temperature using muons. The spectrometer has proved particularly useful for studying organic LEDs which are used in camera and mobile phone devices to make the images brighter and to produce thinner displays.
Recent science highlights from Japanese users include: