ISIS Neutron and Muon Source to receive major upgrades

STFC has launched Endeavour: a £90 million programme of improvements and instruments to supercharge one of the UK’s large scale national laboratories.

Endeavour will support the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source (ISIS) to probe the structure of materials with unprecedented detail to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of global materials research.

Endeavour is majority funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Infrastructure Fund.

It is a component of the UKRI and Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) strategic delivery plans.

It forms part of several UKRI and STFC strategies such as the development of a skilled science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workforce as part of the UKRI research and development (R&D) people and culture strategy.

A world class facility

The ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, located at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, generates powerful beams of subatomic particles called neutrons and muons.

These beams are directed at different materials, and scientific instruments are used to analyse the interactions of neutrons and muons with these materials to provide insights into their structure.

The experiments undertaken at ISIS have been vital to understand silicon batteries necessary to operate smartphones as well as various chemicals needed to develop new medicines.

They have also helped engineers stress-test aircraft components and protect electric vehicles against space weather events that could prevent them from functioning.

Exciting new research

Endeavour will increase ISIS’ capacity and capability and enable its scientific user base to explore new areas of research.

This will include research to develop new, environmentally friendly refrigerants and materials necessary for clean energy generation.

Through work such as this, it will expand the scope of the facility to attract global talent and further investment.

World-leading tools

Professor Mark Thomson, STFC Executive Chair, said:

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 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.

Addressing real world problems

The new instruments which form part of Endeavour include a Multi-Use Spectrometer for High-Rate Observations of Materials (MUSHROOM) instrument.

MUSHROOM will enable specialised neutron experiments on significantly smaller samples than is currently possible.

Potential uses include analysis and development of barocaloric materials which could be the future of environmentally friendly refrigerants in food storage and computing.

Endeavour will also include upgrades of existing ISIS instruments such as OSIRIS.

Upgrading this spectrometer will deliver a fivefold increase in productivity and increase sensitivity.

This will aid studies in energy materials, enhancing work to improve vehicle emission-control.

Construction on Endeavour will begin in summer 2023.

Top image:  Inside the STFC ISIS Neutron and Muon Source. Credit: STFC

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