ISIS has been operating since September last year with Covid working practices in place. Two run cycles at the end of 2020 (largely with users working remotely and sending samples to the facility) saw around 500 experiments performed – a great effort by our staff and the user community.
We were due to have a further run cycle in Feb/Mar this year before going into a long shutdown. The long shutdown is focused on two main projects: refurbishment of the first target station, and replacement of a tank in the linear accelerator. The preparatory work for these projects has been ongoing over the past year with Covid safe working practices in place. It is clear, however, that safe working, together with reduced staff availability due to e.g. school closures, has meant that work is going more slowly than anticipated. We are also finding that some users are not able to access samples in time for a Feb/Mar run cycle.
We have therefore taken the decision to delay the planned run cycle until April – it will now start towards the end of April and will run until mid-June. If you had an experiment scheduled in Feb/Mar, please get in touch with your ISIS local contact to discuss when this might now run.
In turn, this means a delay to the long shutdown which will now begin at the end of June and continue until Spring 2022 (for TS2) or Autumn 2022 (for TS1).
The next call for proposals is therefore likely to be towards the end of this year (for TS2 only) – for further details please the Apply for Beamtime page. We recognise that this will cause difficulties for research programmes, particularly for students needing neutron or muon time. We welcome requests from supervisors of ISIS-supported students for extensions, and also suggestions for any other ways we can help mitigate this situation – please do get in touch with us through your scientist contacts or through the user office (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A diagram of the currently-planned proposal rounds and run cycles is given below.