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Many areas of scientific research will benefit from investment of £6M to develop the UK’s large-scale research facilities.


Scientists from the UK and around the world will benefit from £6M grant awards for large-scale science research facilities. This significant investment will ensure that the world-leading Council for Central Laboratories of the Research Councils’ (CCLRC) large facilities will remain internationally competitive and capable of providing the technological infrastructure necessary for UK and international scientists to probe materials deeper, faster and more accurately than ever before.

Eight research grants have been awarded to collaborative teams led by academics from UK universities and the CCLRC. Awards have been determined by the peer-reviewed quality of the proposals to create new research opportunities and to introduce new research communities to the CCLRC facilities – the Central Laser Facility (CLF), the ISIS pulsed neutron and muon source and the Synchrotron Radiation Source (SRS).

The largest award is £2m for the development of a new muon spectrometer on the ISIS facility. “Muons are a fascinating way of exploring materials. They only live for two-millionths of a second, but that’s long enough to give us unique insights into atoms and molecules,” said project leader Dr. Philip King from the CCLRC ISIS facility. “The new instrument will significantly widen the range of experiments we can make on new organic materials and on semiconductors used by the electronics industry.”

A grant of £1.8M has been awarded in partnership with the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) to develop a novel laser spectrometer which will enable researchers to investigate DNA repair, protein folding and offer a new approach to detecting cancerous and pre-cancerous cells.

Colin Miles from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) said “This technique will enable CCLRC expertise in material and physical sciences to be extended to the BBSRC bioscience and medical communities. This builds on steps being taken by CCLRC and BBSRC to work in partnership to increase the amount of bioscience research undertaken on the facilities”.

Four of the successful grants will be used to develop new instruments on the SRS in advance of the transfer of science programmes to the Diamond Light Source. “These developments will ensure that the SRS can continue to provide scientists with state-of-the-art instrumentation during this very important overlap period between the closure of the SRS and the start up of Diamond”, explained Professor Michael Chesters, Director Synchrotron Science.

This is the second year that CCLRC has awarded funds in its Facility Development Grant Award scheme. Given the quality of proposals received and demand from the research community, the CCLRC intends to build on initial success and continue the scheme into the foreseeable future.

Jacky Hutchinson | alfa
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