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UK Scientists asked to identify future facility requirements

UK researchers from a wide range of physical and life sciences are being asked to provide their views regarding the future development of the nation’s large scale research facilities.

Researchers will have until June 16 to complete the ‘Research Councils UK (RCUK) Large Facilities User Survey’ which 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. The Large Facilities User Survey only takes about 10 minutes to complete and can be accessed here.

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Further information

Nicholas Turner
Press and Communications Manager
Tel: 01793 444592 or email: Nicholas Turner

Notes to editors

Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils who annually invest around £3 billion in research. We support excellent research, as judged by peer review, that has an impact on the growth, prosperity and wellbeing of the UK. To maintain the UK’s global research position we offer a diverse range of funding opportunities, foster international collaborations and provide access to the best facilities and infrastructure around the world. We also support the training and career development of researchers and work with them to inspire young people and engage the wider public with research. To maximise the impact of research on economic growth and societal wellbeing we work in partnership with other research funders including the Technology Strategy Board, the UK Higher Education funding bodies, business, government, and charitable organisations.

The seven UK Research Councils are:

  • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC);
  • Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC);
  • Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC);
  • Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC);
  • Medical Research Council (MRC);
  • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC);
  • Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

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