Back in March 2020 the ISIS business continuity plan, developed several years ago for pandemic flu, was implemented for the coronavirus Covid-19. Within a very few days of lockdown being announced we safely closed down ISIS operations and went from 500 staff on site to just a handful with most staff working from home.
Scientific and engineering work, however, never stopped, and on 8 September, after many weeks of preparing our buildings and labs to ensure staff could work safely, and restarting our systems and equipment, ISIS started our first cycle since lockdown.
The first cycle under Covid-19 constraints went remarkably smoothly, with accelerator records being set on several days. The accelerator was available 90.4% overall (94% excluding when beam was down for less than an hour!). The beam delivery record was broken repeatedly during the cycle and now stands at 5.87 mAh in 24hrs (= 245 µA average current with 2 mins downtime).
Every instrument was operational during the cycle, and the science programme ran on most instruments at over 50% of ‘normal’ capacity, enabling 275 experiments. We were delighted to welcome a small number of users coming in person on site to do experiments.
Experiments were as diverse as ever: studies of how toxins interact with plant leaf membranes; industrial investigation of oil additive stability; exploration of magnetism in thin films relevant to memory devices; looking at atomic-level properties of modern battery materials; monitoring the effects of neutron irradiation on microelectronic components; and even investigation of whether Roman bones from the first century AD had undergone burning.
“I’d like to express my thanks to all ISIS staff for the huge amount of work that went into achieving a successful run cycle under the new working conditions,’ said ISIS Director Prof Robert McGreevy. ‘It is an amazing achievement to have run so many experiments and kept the accelerator going so well during this time."
We are looking forward to a lot more science this year, and operations will shortly start again for the final cycle of 2020, thanks to the hard work of ISIS staff and our user community