STFC’s £90 million investment makes a material difference
25 Jun 2023
A £90 million investment programme for one of the country’s largest scale national laboratories has been launched to ‘supercharge’ efforts to maintain the UK as a leading power in materials research.
The Science Technology and Facilities Council (STFC) Endeavour programme will underwrite the efforts of the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source (ISIS) to investigate the structure of materials with unprecedented detail.
ISIS experiments have been vital to advancing understanding of silicon batteries for smart phones and also a variety of chemicals for the development of new medicines, among other pioneering work.
Endeavour will enable work on new, environmentally friendly refrigerants and materials necessary for clean energy generation to progress and enable the lab to attract global talent and further investment.
STFC Executive Chair Professor Mark Thomson, explained: “Investment in critical research infrastructure such as this is essential to equip UK scientists to remain at the cutting edge of scientific progress and innovation, to address the ever-changing needs of society.
“Through Endeavour, STFC will facilitate exciting new research that will play a key role in helping us to protect against threats from global health crises to climate change. It will provide UK researchers with world-leading tools to transform our understanding of new materials and chemical processes that will support the UK’s ambitious science and technology strategy.”
The ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, based at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire generates neutrons and muons, beams of subatomic particles that can be directed at materials – allowing scientific instruments to analyse the interactions for insights into materials’ structure. The object is to improve performance, increase lifetimes and boost energy efficiency.
Endeavour will see the addition of a Multi-Use Spectrometer for High-Rate Observations of Materials (MUSHROOM) instrument allowing neutron experiments on significantly smaller samples than currently possible, for analysis and development of barocaloric?materials for possible environmentally friendly refrigerants in food storage and computing.
Endeavour will also support upgrades of existing ISIS instruments such as the OSIRIS spectrometer to deliver a fivefold increase in productivity and increase sensitivity.
STFC Executive Director for National Laboratories: Large Scale Facilities, Dr Alan Partridge, said:“This is the single largest investment in ISIS since the construction of the Second Target Station between 2003 and 2008. That investment enabled the delivery of UK research which wouldn’t have otherwise been possible, such as testing the integrity of nuclear power station components to extend their lifetime by up to eight years.
“Looking ahead, it’s exciting to think what research Endeavour might make possible and the problems that it will help us to solve.”