UK’s synchrotron receives funding for the first phase of Diamond-II

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UKRI has confirmed an allocation of £81.5 million for the first phase of Diamond-II synchrotron, as part of a major investment in cutting-edge facilities to keep UK researchers and innovators at the forefront of discovery and helping address global challenges.

Diamond Light Source, located at Harwell Campus, is the UK’s national synchrotron. Diamond works like a giant microscope, harnessing the power of electrons to produce bright light that scientists can use to study anything from fossils to jet engines to viruses and vaccines.

The machine accelerates electrons to near light speeds so that they give off light 10 billion times brighter than the sun. These bright beams are then directed off into laboratories known as ‘beamlines’. Here, scientists use the light to study a vast range of subject matter, from new medicines and treatments for disease to innovative engineering and technology.

Whether it’s fragments of ancient paintings or unknown virus structures, at the synchrotron, scientists can study their samples using a machine that is 10,000 times more powerful than a traditional microscope.

Diamond is one of the most advanced scientific facilities in the world, and its pioneering capabilities are helping to keep the UK at the forefront of scientific research.

Professor Andrew Harrison, Diamond CEO and Senior Responsible Officer for Diamond-II, said: “Diamond’s success owes a great debt of gratitude to the trust and commitment of its funding agencies, the UK Government – through BEIS, UKRI and UKRI’s STFC (Science Technology and Facilities Council), and the Wellcome Trust who have provided ongoing support. It is great to see they are fully behind Diamond-II and all have enabled this funding confirmation. This investment will set a course to strengthen the UK’s global scientific leadership. We are very pleased indeed to have received this support, but we also have to be prepared for the challenges of delivering the Programme in full with the substantial rise in inflation as well as supply chain issues, in a difficult world situation and also in competition with other international facilities.”

The overall transformational Diamond-II upgrade will take several years of planning, a dark period of 18 months during which there will be no synchrotron light for the user community, followed by a period to fully launch the new five flagship beamlines and a comprehensive series of other upgrades staggered over a number of years pre and post dark period, which will bring a total of 38 instruments around the synchrotron ring.

This year marks 15 years of Diamond Light Source delivering science and innovation to the worldwide science community and 20 years since it was set up in 2002. Prof. Harrison, added: “We are entering a new era of opportunity with the advent of fourth generation synchrotrons. So we are delighted that the new Programme Director for Diamond-II, Rob Walden, will be leading what will be a massive transformation in our capabilities.

“Progress in accelerator technology means Diamond-II will offer the scientific community in academia and industry the opportunity to exploit much brighter beams and an increased coherence over a large energy range on all our beamlines plus additional beamlines. It will help inspire the next generation of STEM professionals and create new opportunities for researchers in universities, research institutes and industry, ultimately having a lasting impact on our society and the economy.”