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Leading Oxfordshire materials research facility set for £90 million Endeavour programme to expand its capacity and capability

21 June 2023
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The ISIS Neutron and Muon Source at Harwell science and innovation campus - picture contributed
The ISIS Neutron and Muon Source at Harwell science and innovation campus - picture contributed

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has launched a £90 million program called Endeavour to expand the capacity and capability of UK's flagship ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, based at STFC's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, and explore new areas of materials research, including for clean energy.

Experiments undertaken at the world-renowned ISIS have already been vital to understand such things as the batteries, which operate smart phones and helped engineers stress-test aircraft components.
Professor Mark Thomson, STFC's executive chair, explained that the lab generates powerful beams of subatomic particles called neutrons and muons.


READ MORE: Globally-leading Oxfordshire research facilities secure £4 million in funding

"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. These can be used to develop new and improved products with better performance, longer lifetimes, and greater energy efficiency," he said.

"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."

Construction on Endeavour will begin this summer and new instruments as part of the programme include a Multi-Use Spectrometer for High-Rate Observations of Materials or 'MUSHROOM' instrument.

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

Endeavour will also include upgrades of existing ISIS instruments such as OSIRIS, which will deliver a fivefold increase in productivity and increase sensitivity, and aid studies in energy materials, enhancing work to improve vehicle emission-control, alongside industrial users such as General Motors and Proctor & Gamble.

The aim of the programme is to increase understanding of the structure of materials and lead to new, improved materials aligned to challenges, including catalyst analysis and improvement for chemical industries, research into novel materials for carbon capture and sequestration, and the development of vaccine manufacturing and delivery components.

Dr Alan Partridge, STFC executive director for national laboratories: large scale facilities, 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."

READ MORE: STFC celebrates £100 million raised by space tech start-ups


Giles Gwinnett is a writer at The Business Magazine. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and covered a vast array of topics at a range of media settings - in print and online. After his NCTJ newspaper training, he became a reporter in Hampshire before moving to a news agency in Gloucestershire. In recent years, he has been covering the financial markets along with company news for an investor-focused web portal. His many interests include politics, energy and the environment. He lives in Dorset.

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