The ESRF is the largest synchrotron facility in Europe, and one of the largest in the world. Operational since 1994, it is a high energy, joint facility supported and shared by 19 countries. The investment of the UK via STFC is 14%. About a thousand UK scientists are regular users of the 31 public ESRF beamlines. In addition, the UK scientists have access to the Xmas (X-ray magnetic scattering) beamline funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
Diamond is the UK’s national synchrotron facility and is a medium energy source. Operational in 2007, it is funded by the UK Government through STFC (86%) and the Wellcome Trust (14%) through a joint venture company set up to build and operate the facility and ensure sound management of the project throughout its lifetime.
It represents the largest UK-funded scientific facility to be built for over 40 years and could ultimately host up to 40 beamlines for scientific research. To date Diamond has had over 3,000 users expressing an interest in the facility.
The applications of synchrotrons cover virtually all sciences – fundamental physics, engineering, environmental, medicine, biology, chemistry, cultural heritage and more. Through the ESRF and Diamond, STFC is helping to keep UK science at the forefront of groundbreaking research worldwide.
Previous and ongoing projects include:
- pioneering research into developing new cancer therapies that can be tailored to the individual patient
- working with metal munching earthworms to establish new ways to clean up polluted soil and improve the environment
- improving the efficiency of hydrogen storage to make it a realistic option for a sustainable energy source
- solving the molecular structure of the foot and mouth disease virus, leading to the development of an effective vaccine
- taking the metal lead from mussels and clams to create new robust and environmentally friendly materials for engineering and biomedical use
- understanding how metallic nanoparticles behave under changing conditions, leading to electronic, optical and medical applications
- helping to preserve the centuries old timbers of King Henry VIII’s favourite warship, the Mary Rose, for future generations