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UK scientists asked to identify future facility requirements

UK scientists asked to identify future facility requirements - 30 May 2014. Diamond Light Source

UK researchers from across a wide range of the physical and life sciences have until 16 June to provide their views on the future development of the country's large scale research facilities.

The Research Councils UK (RCUK) survey launched today seeks scientific advice on the future development of the Central Laser Facility, Diamond Light Source and ISIS Neutron Source – all located at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell Oxford.

It is open to past or current facility users, as well as those scientists who anticipate using the facilities in the next five years, and will identify how the academic and business community have used the facilities to date, how they plan to use them in the future and how they believe the facilities should be developed to meet future scientific needs.

RCUK Large Facilities Steering Group chair Colin Miles said: "The three facilities offer unique capabilities to the scientists in the UK, allowing the academic and research community to conduct world-class science."

"It is important that the UK continues to be at the forefront of scientific excellence and to do that we need to make sure these resources are best placed to meet the needs of researchers. By taking part in this survey scientists can help make sure this happens and influence the development of these crucial facilities. We are encouraging as many researchers as possible to take part."

Located at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, at the Harwell Oxford campus, the facilities provide access for scientists from a very wide range of research disciplines.

  • Central Laser Facility provides an unparalleled range of state-of-the-art laser technology. Encompassing compact lasers that can pinpoint individual particles and high-power installations that can recreate conditions found inside stars, this unique facility accelerates sub-atomic particles, probes chemical reactions and delves deep into the biochemical and biophysical processes that make life possible.
  • Diamond produces X-ray, infrared and ultra-violet beams, to enable scientists and engineers to probe deep into the basic structure of matter and materials, answering fundamental questions about everything from the building blocks of life to the origin of our planet. Synchrotron light is an indispensable tool in many research areas including physics, chemistry, materials science and crystallography. In addition, synchrotron light is increasingly being exploited by new communities such as medicine, geological and environmental studies, structural genomics and archaeology.
  • ISIS uses the technique of neutron scattering to examine where atoms are and how they are moving. By studying how materials work at the atomic level, we can better understand their every-day properties - and so make new materials tailor-made for particular uses. ISIS also produces muons for use in a similar way, providing additional information on how materials work at the atomic scale.

The survey is supported by the UK Research Councils (BBSRC, EPSRC, MRC, NERC, STFC) and the Wellcome Trust.


About Central Laser Facility

The CLF offers laser imaging techniques that can investigate many biological processes in cells, such as virus infection, cell signalling, DNA damage, and the processing of nutrients by plants. "Super-resolution" imaging methods provide unprecedented levels of detail in live cells, and single molecule techniques provide structural information in dynamic and complex systems such as signalling networks that control the growth of cells. Fast spectroscopy methods are used to investigate how the structure of biological macromolecules such as proteins and DNA is linked to their biological function, such as enzyme catalysis, light capture, and damage repair.

About Diamond Light Source

Over 30% of the research carried out at Diamond in 2013/14 was in the life sciences. X-ray crystallography capabilities at the synchrotron have led to over 2,000 protein structures being deposited in the Worldwide Protein Data Bank and the facility supports a large number of academic and industrial users who are working on increasingly complex biological structures and systems to aid drug design and delivery. Spectroscopy, scattering, infrared and imaging techniques are being used to enable scientists to gain new insights into biological processes linked to a range of areas such as optical health, hearing, brain degeneration, bone healing and the biological impact of artificial implants.

Looking ahead, a new imaging centre for biology is currently being built at Diamond following the award of a £15.6M grant from the Wellcome Trust, the MRC and BBSRC. The powerful cryo-electron microscopes will provide scientists with a view into the structure of the cell to help further understand molecular make-up and will provide new tools to visualise single bio-molecules.

About ISIS

ISIS supports a range of research in biotechnology and biological science. Neutrons and muons provide unique insights into complex biological structures, with the ability to determine the size structure and relative distribution of each component. This has many applications in structural studies of biological membranes, protein ligand interactions, biotechnological devices. Recent examples include structural studies on model biological membranes and interactions with these, structural studies of protein/protein, protein/DNA and protein/lipid complexes, examining the structure of biotechnological devices and dynamics of biomolecules

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