New Swedish collaboration funds unique ISIS instrument
04 Feb 2015



A new collaboration between the Swedish Research Council, Vetenskapsrådet, and STFC's ISIS Neutron and Muon Source will fund a novel facility, IMAT, offering capabilities that are not available anywhere else in the world.


​​IMAT design outline


IMAT will be able to provide neutron imaging and diffraction simultaneously, making it a valuable tool for engineering, energy generation and storage, agricultural and cultural heritage applications. The agreement builds on long-standing collaborations between Sweden and ISIS, with 14m Kr (~£1.1m) funding over the next 4 years.

Professor Sten Eriksson from Chalmers University is the Principal Investigator on this application and has previously coordinated Swedish collaborations with ISIS, including contributions to the upgrade of the Polaris powder diffractometer and the development of a suite of novel equipment to allow neutron diffraction studies of important new materials for energy production and storage.. He says, “ISIS is a world leading facility, supporting an international community of around 3000 scientists including many from Sweden. This project will fund the development of diffraction detectors for IMAT that will make it a unique research facility, combining simultaneous diffraction and imaging. The agreement will also enable the Swedish research community to access world leading instrumentation and expertise in neutron scattering and to develop skills and knowledge in this important area.”

The IMAT instrument, already under construction, will be one of the first neutron instruments to offer imaging based on a spallation source like ISIS. Adding the diffraction detectors funded by the Swedish grant will make it unique in the world. Winfried Kockelmann is the instrument scientist responsible for building the new facility. He says, “Neutron imaging allows scientists to see inside materials non-destructively, in a similar manner to X-rays. However neutrons are able to “see” different elements to X-rays – for example light elements like hydrogen. This is important in, for example, agricultural applications such as understanding how plants take up water. Combining this knowledge with the atomic-level data we can obtain from diffraction data will open new avenues of research. For example, in engineering we can use imaging to precisely locate cracks as they form, and relate this to residual stress information provided by diffraction data.”

The Swedish grant will make combined neutron imaging and diffraction analysis on the same instrument available towards the end of 2016. Robert McGreevy is Director of ISIS. He says, “The awarding of this grant is great news for ISIS, and also for the international research community. The addition of diffraction detectors to IMAT will enable new research across a wide range of applications that will be unique in the world. Coming shortly after the major agreement signed with Vetenskapsrådet in December for increased Swedish access to ISIS, this significantly strengthens our relationship. We welcome the opportunity to work together to support and develop the European neutron community, particularly with the European Spallation Source currently under construction in Sweden.”