You may be aware that the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source ended its March run cycle early and cancelled the planned April / May run cycle due to the Covid-19 situation.
Nearly all ISIS staff have been working from home since March. Until recently, only staff essential for the safe operation of equipment that was left running have been on site. Over the past couple of weeks, some project work has begun, and ISIS, along with STFC more generally, is beginning a controlled increase in activities whilst following government guidelines to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff.
The next ISIS run cycle was planned to start on 8 September 2020. ISIS is currently aiming to run the accelerator for this cycle, with the anticipation of a limited experimental programme being possible. For this cycle we anticipate that there will be no visiting external users on site, at least for the first weeks of the cycle. Science groups are currently drawing up schedules, in discussion with users, for running during this period, and science and technical groups are working out how we can operate safely during this period.
Following this, ISIS is currently planning another run cycle in November and December this year - we hope we may be able to have limited numbers of visiting users for this cycle. The delays caused by Covid-19 also mean we will not be in a position to start the long shutdown in January 2021. We will therefore introduce a new cycle in early 2021, running up to Easter, and aim to start the shutdown after Easter 2021. Exact dates will be confirmed later.
All of these plans are subject to change in the light of experience over coming weeks in attempting to run the ISIS accelerator and dealing with issues that arise during operation whilst observing social distancing. We will continue to keep the user community informed of ISIS operating patterns as these develop, through emails such as this and through the ISIS website.
In the meantime – we are very pleased to see high-quality publications continuing to come from the ISIS community over recent weeks – the ISIS website has a continuous stream of science highlights. We have just held a webinar on Functional Materials Science with six talks from ISIS and ILL users, attended by over 160 people, and a webinar on Soft Matter and Bioscience at ISIS and ILL on the afternoon of 20 July which attracted a similar number of participants. We hope to see you virtually, if not in person, in the near future.