The Diamond Light Source synchrotron is now in full operation, but the work of Observatory Sciences consultants Andy Foster and Alan Greer goes on, commissioning further beamlines at the impressive scientific facility - the largest to be built in the UK for over 30 years.
Opened officially on 19 October 2007 by Her Majesty the Queen as she celebrated her diamond wedding anniversary, Diamond Light Source is already living up to its billing as one of Europe's foremost research facilities.
Seven Phase One Diamond beamlines came into operation during 2007, used for projects that include research that could potentially lead to drugs to prevent cancer cells from spreading, studying meteorites to understand the early solar system, examining ways to improve digital storage through improved magnetic materials, and using powerful X-rays to investigate fragile ancient parchments. Research using synchrotrons in the past has led to a number of scientific breakthroughs, with biomedical achievements including finding the structure of the foot and mouth virus.
A further 15 Diamond beamlines are planned to be built in Phase Two, at a rate of four per year.
Ongoing commissioning work
Observatory Sciences consultants have been involved in the Diamond Light Source project, located on the Harwell Chilton science campus in Oxfordshire, for a number of years. As well as providing a series of on-site training courses for the EPICS software toolkit, they have been responsible for production of Diamond software systems as well as writing and commissioning software used to control beamline equipment. Now OSL consultants Andy Foster and Alan Greer are busy commissioning facilities for several new beamlines. Andy is in charge of software commissioning work on the macromolecular crystallography_(MX) beam-lines. Meanwhile Alan has concentrated on the Nanoscience microfocus soft-X-ray beamline for X-ray photoelectron microscopy, which can be used to study nanostructures significant for sensors, catalysts and magnetic materials and nanoscale devices.
Much more work remains to be done at Diamond. With Phase Two beamlines scheduled for completion in 2011, a third phase may be built if funding and demand warrant. Ultimately Diamond could host up to forty cutting edge research stations.
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