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  • richardmitnick 12:49 pm on August 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ENGIN-X, ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, Neutrons: an unexpected engineering tool, STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council   

    From Science and Technology Facilities Council: News, Events, Publications, ENGIN-X, ISIS Neutron and Muon Source 


    From Science and Technology Facilities Council

    Neutrons: an unexpected engineering tool

    What do you associate the word “engineering” with? Construction? Electronics? Maths? The list could go on and on, but in all likelihood it would be some time before you’d arrive at “neutrons”.

    However neutrons and engineering have more in common than you might expect. We take a closer look at ENGIN-X, ISIS Neutron and Muon Source’s dedicated engineering beamline, to find out how neutrons have been solving engineering problems for over 20 years.

    1

    STFC ISIS Neutron and Muon source

    Measuring stresses and strains at the atomic level

    ISIS Neutron and Muon Source produces high energy beams of neutrons that are fired into materials allowing us to study them at the atomic scale. As neutrons don’t carry an electrical charge they are largely unaffected by the atoms around them, letting us see deep into materials.

    ENGIN-X uses neutrons to non-destructively measure the stresses and strains hidden within engineering components under realistic conditions. Samples can be subjected to stress loads up to 100kN and temperatures up to 1000°C to recreate the challenging conditions engineering components face every day.

    Solving engineering problems for more than 20 years

    Despite being best known for their science, ISIS Neutron and Muon Source has had a longstanding involvement with engineering. “Not only are a substantial proportion of our workforce engineers, but we have a dedicated instrument that allows us to study engineering components in ways that no other technique can,” explains ISIS Neutron and Muon Source director Prof Robert McGreevy.

    The use of neutrons to study residual stress was pioneered at the Harwell reactors in the 1970s. ISIS Neutron and Muon Source entered the international stage for engineering stress measurement more than 20 years ago when it built ENGIN – one of the first dedicated neutron stress beamlines in the world. In response to growing demand from the engineering community, ENGIN was superseded by ENGIN-X in 2003, funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC).

    Installation of the ENGIN-X guide, which became operational 2003, by the team from Swiss Neutronics. Image credit: ISIS Annual Review 2002.

    Prof Robert McGreevy, director of ISIS Neutron and Muon Source adds: “it’s great to see such a wide variety of research taking place on ENGIN-X. Not many people realise the important role that neutrons play in engineering, or that engineering plays in neutron research. The social and economic benefits are easy to explain and will continue for many years to come.”

    Take a look at some of the research that’s taken place on this extraordinary instrument below.

    Keeping us safe on the move
    Neutrons can delve deep into engineering components used in transport such as aircraft wings, jet engine casings and train wheels.

    Airbus was able to discover areas of potential stress and weakness in its aircraft wings by testing them using ENGIN-X.

    This assures the quality of engineering components before the manufacturing process begins, keeping us safe in the skies.

    Surveying stresses and strains in ancient artefacts

    Neutrons can be used to non-destructively study ancient artefacts. The facility has previously studied a 3,000 year old vase, bronze age swords, medieval armour, and copper bolts from Napoleonic war era ships.

    In 2015, ENGIN-X was used to look at a broken ancient tie rod used to support one of the biggest cathedrals in the world – Milan Cathedral.

    The experimental data from ENGIN-X revealed the residual stresses in the inner part of the iron rod without damaging the artefact.

    Stress strain measurements power progress in the energy sector

    The energy industry can use neutrons to probe deep into objects of interest. For example, graphite material used in UK nuclear reactors, and materials used in solid oxide fuel cells, have all been examined using ENGIN-X.

    The instrument was also used to study pipes for the offshore oil and gas industry. The pipe installation process and welding procedure induce strains in the pipeline which can, in principle, lead to failure.

    It is important that pipelines used to carry fluids are robust and able to withstand production and installation. Experimental data from ENGIN-X gave insight into the structural integrity of the pipe during the installation process.

    Monitoring the quality of hip implants

    Neutrons can also benefit our health as they can be used to study samples such as orthopaedic implants in great detail.

    Orthopaedic implants are often coated in a thin layer of hydroxyapatite. The coating process causes stress within the implant, which could cause the implant to fail.ENGIN-X was used to collect stress measurements to determine how the coating process relates to implant failure.

    Researchers used neutrons rather than x-rays to study the samples as they can penetrate deep into the materials more effectively. Their results were used to develop a computer model used by the implant industry to monitor the quality of hydroxyapatite coatings.

    Stress test sheds light on solar system formation

    Neutrons can also probe samples from the natural world – including meteorites.

    ENGIN-X has been used to look at the stresses within samples of meteorites. The type of stress indicates the potential impact and cooling experience it has been through.

    These findings could help reveal conditions during the early formation of the solar system.

    Solving engineering issues for industry

    Over the past 30 years, various industries have directly benefitted from the value that neutron science can bring to their business.

    ENGIN-X has been used by many companies including EDF Energy, TWI, and Boeing.

    Researchers from Rolls Royce used ENGIN-X to identify a mechanism they believed led to the formation of surface defects in the turbine blades.

    The team were able to conclusively identify the mechanism that caused the defects. As a result they’ve implemented a new manufacturing process that prevents surface defects from occurring.

    Further information

    ENGIN-X infographic
    How does ISIS Neutron and Muon Source work
    Further information on ENGIN-X
    More case studies on ENGIN-X

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

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  • richardmitnick 4:23 am on August 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council   

    From Science and Technology Facilities Council: “The next big thing in astronomy: ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope” 


    From Science and Technology Facilities Council


    The Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) will be the world’s largest visible and infrared telescope – when completed, this new eye on the sky will open up new windows onto the universe and see things we can’t yet imagine. (Credit: STFC)

    On the top of a mountain in Chile, construction of the largest visible and infrared telescope ever built – the Extremely Large Telescope, or ELT – is underway. When the telescope is operational, its 39-metre primary mirror will gather 217 times more light than the Hubble Telescope.

    The ELT’s scale makes it a feat of engineering, and its ambition makes it a feat of imagination.

    The science applications of the ELT are vast. It will allow us to image planets outside our solar system, tell us what they are made of and if they can support life, and maybe even help us understand more about the mysteries of dark matter. And that’s just the start.

    As the ELT and its instruments evolve, it will generate discoveries that we can’t yet imagine.

    Delivering this awe-inspiring project is beyond the reach of a single nation, but is within our grasp thanks to multinational collaboration and science-led innovation.

    The UK is playing a key role in the ELT’s innovation.

    At the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), we fund the UK ELT Project Office, led by Dr Chris Evans. It co-ordinates activities across the UK’s principle partners for research and development for the project – the University of Cambridge, Durham University, University of Oxford, and STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre and RAL Space – in close collaboration with the European Southern Observatory (ESO). As Dr Evans says: “It’s exciting to be part of one of the biggest global science collaborations in history – and to see the UK helping to shape the project and drive it forwards.

    2
    The ELT will be taller than a football stadium. (Credit: ESO)

    Let’s find out more about the ELT

    The ELT will be the world’s largest optical telescope, meaning it will use mirrors to gather light in the visible and the infrared spectrum. The telescope is being built by the ESO and its 15 member states, of which the UK is a major partner.

    When complete, the ELT will be a state-of-the-art facility, with capabilities far beyond any other ground-based optical telescope. It will have a footprint of 115 metres (to make room for the telescope, the top of the mountain has been levelled), and its dome will be 80 metres tall, making it taller than a football stadium.

    This size is only possible because the ELT has driven an ‘industrial revolution’ in telescope construction. This has changed the way the telescope is made, and means that new types of businesses can be involved in its production, with greater emphasis on production speed, quality and logistics.

    The ELT will be made up of lots of smaller components that fit together (like Lego), rather than a few one-off items.

    The telescope’s primary mirror is a great example of this – it will be 39-metres across, and made up of 798 hexagonal segments. It’s the size of this primary mirror that determines how much light it can capture – and how much of the universe it will be able to see.

    For astronomers, physicists and stargazers everywhere, developing a telescope this size with these capabilities is a major priority – it’s the one they have been waiting for.

    Very large vs extremely large

    If you want to be precise, the difference between an extremely large telescope and a very large telescope is about 30.80 metres…that’s the difference in size between the ELT and the Very Large Telescope (VLT), currently the most advanced optical observatory in the world.

    ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).
    elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft) from above Credit J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl atacama photo

    It’s this huge jump in class between the 8-10 metre telescopes and the ELT that’s getting astronomers so excited.

    The ELT will be much more powerful than any other telescope currently in existence. If the telescope was placed at Land’s End, it could see a bumblebee at John O’Groats.

    Right now, 8-10 metre telescopes are the best on the planet. With them, astronomers and physicists have made amazing discoveries, like producing the first image of a planet outside our solar system and tracking stars as they move around the black hole in the centre of our galaxy. The ELT won’t replace these telescopes; they will continue to power scientific discovery for years to come.

    But they have also opened the door to new mysteries about our universe. To address the new questions raised by existing telescopes and make new discoveries, astronomers need a new class of telescope to complement them – one in the 30-60 metre diameter range.

    3
    ELT deploying lasers to create artificial stars.
    (Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/N. Risinger (skysurvey.org))

    Glistening against the awesome backdrop of the night sky above ESO_s Paranal Observatory, four laser beams project out into the darkness from Unit Telescope 4 UT4 of the VLT.

    Size isn’t the only thing that matters

    It’s not just the size of the telescope that makes the ELT so impressive. The engineers and scientists designing the telescope and its instruments are bringing expertise honed for other facilities to bear on every aspect of the ELT.

    One of the most sophisticated pieces of technology underpinning the ELT’s operation is its adaptive optics system. Adaptive optics allow astronomers to take really clear images of the stars by stopping them from twinkling.

    They can do this because the twinkling isn’t caused by the stars themselves – it’s caused by distortions in the earth’s atmosphere. By measuring the effect of the atmosphere on bright reference stars in the nearby sky (or on artificial laser guide stars), thousands of little tiny pistons (called actuators) under the surface of one of the mirrors push it gently to change its shape and correct for distortions in the atmosphere and create crisp images of the cosmos.

    This technology also has applications for much smaller environments, like the environment within the human body. Biological and medical researchers have been working together with imaging experts to study the murky environment within cells.

    4
    Exquisite instruments

    Being able to capture light from the far reaches of the universe is one thing – but it’s the ELT’s instruments that will transform that light into scientific discoveries.

    The ELT will have three key instruments in place at ‘first light’ or following soon after – MICADO (a camera), HARMONI (a spectrograph), and METIS (a mid-infrared spectrograph and imager).

    HARMONI is the ELT’s ‘workhorse’ spectrograph. It will detect light in the visible and near-infrared parts of the spectrum, and produce 3D images of the sky with unparalleled sharpness and clarity. Because the ELT will have adaptive optics built in, the design of the telescope and HARMONI must stay closely coupled. This is an exciting challenge for the UK team leading the design of this critical instrument.

    Leading things is Professor Niranjan Thatte from the University of Oxford, in collaboration with STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre and Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and experts at Durham University.

    The group – along with contributions from international partners in Lyon, Marseille, Tenerife, and Madrid – will also be working together to ensure the subsystems for HARMONI operate seamlessly.

    Read our interview with Professor Niranjan Thatte from the University of Oxford and lead investigator on the HARMONI instrument.

    While HARMONI will be the first instrument to tackle the big questions ELT was built for, other instruments will be added to the telescope after first light. These include HIRES (a high-resolution spectrograph) and MOSAIC (a multi-object spectrograph).

    ESO E-ELT HIRES in development

    ESO E-ELT MOSAIC

    MOSAIC will allow astronomers to observe large numbers of the most distant galaxies simultaneously, and build on scientific discoveries expected from the James Webb Space Telescope.

    As part of an international consortium of 11 countries, UK science and engineering teams are leading aspects of the instrument design.

    Find out why MOSAIC is the instrument Professor Simon Morris, ESO Council Member and Professor of Physics at Durham University, is most excited about.

    The future of astronomy

    The ELT will change the way we view the universe and open new avenues of exploration.

    There are certain scientific questions about the universe we know ELT will be able to answer: it will let us observe atmospheres of planets inside and outside our own solar system (possibly detecting ‘bio-markers’ indicating that they could support life), look back in time at the most distant galaxies so we can understand their formation and evolution, and make direct measurements of the expanding Universe, which could tell us more about dark matter and how it is distributed.

    But perhaps the most exciting questions the ELT will help us to answer are the ones we haven’t yet thought to ask, and the serendipitous discoveries that will take us by surprise.

    It’s worth remembering that the ELT is not just being designed for today’s researchers.

    This incredible telescope will inspire a new generation of astronomers to look to the sky, and fuel their discoveries for decades as they work to understand our place in the universe.
    Find out more about the ELT on the ESO website
    Discover more about big telescopes

    Big telescopes infographic

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:01 pm on July 17, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council   

    From Science and Technology Facilities Council via Lawrence Berkeley National Lab: “UK delivers super-cool kit to USA for Next-Generation Dark Matter Experiment” 


    From Science and Technology Facilities Council

    via

    Berkeley Logo

    From Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

    17 July 2018
    Jake Gilmore
    jake.gilmore@stfc.ac.uk

    A huge UK built titanium chamber designed to keep its contents at a cool -100C and weighing as much as an SUV has been shipped to the United States, where it will soon become part of a next-generation dark matter detector to hunt for the long-theorised elusive dark matter particle called a WIMP (Weakly Interacting Massive Particle).

    This hunt is important because the nature of dark matter, which physicists describe as the invisible component or ‘missing mass’ in the universe, has eluded scientists since its existence was deduced by Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky in 1933. The quest to find out what dark matter is made of, or whether it can be explained by tweaking the known laws of physics, is considered one of the most pressing questions in particle physics, on a par with the previous hunt for the Higgs boson.

    The cryostat chamber was built by a team of engineers at the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, and journeyed around the world to the LUX-Zeplin (LZ) experiment, located 1400m underground at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in South Dakota.

    LBNL Lux Zeplin project at SURF

    1
    A worker inspects the titanium cryostat for the LUX-ZEPLIN experiment in a clean room. (Credit: Matt Kapust/SURF)

    After being delivered to the surface facility at SURF the Outer Cryostat Vessel (OCV) of the cryostat chamber spent five weeks being fully assembled and leak checked in the SURF Assembly Lab (SAL) clean room. It has now been disassembled and packaged for transportation from the surface to the underground location at SURF. Meanwhile the Inner Cryostat Vessel is now in the SAL clean room getting prepared for the leak tests.

    STFC’s Dr Pawel Majewski, technical lead for the cryostat, said: “The cryostat was a feat of engineering with some very stringent and challenging requirements to meet. Because of the huge mass of the cryostat – 2,000kgs – we had to make sure it was made of ultra radio-pure titanium. It took nearly two years to find a pure enough sample to work with. Eventually we got it from one of the world’s leading titanium suppliers in the US where Electron Beam Cold Heart technology was used to melt the titanium.

    “This type of ultra-pure titanium is used, for example, in the healthcare industry to fabricate a pacemaker encapsulation. In our case it is used to hold the heart of the experiment.”

    It took two-and-a-half years to design the specialist equipment, and another two years to build in Italy by a company specialising in vessels and pipes fabrication only from titanium.

    The cryostat is a vital part of LZ, as it keeps the detector at freezing temperatures. This is crucial because the detector uses xenon – which at room temperature is a gas. But for the experiment to work, the xenon, which itself has low background radiation, must be kept in a liquid state, which is only achievable at around -100C.

    LZ is the latest experiment to hunt for the long-theorised elusive dark matter particle called a WIMP (Weakly Interacting Massive Particle). Many scientists believe finding WIMPs will provide the answer to one of the most pressing questions in physics – what is dark matter? WIMPS are thought to make up the most of dark matter – the as-yet-unknown substance which makes up about 85% of the universe. But because WIMPs are thought not to interact with normal matter, they are practically invisible using traditional detection methods.

    Liquid xenon emits a flash of light when struck by a particle, and this light can be detected by very sensitive photon detectors called photomultiplier tubes. If a WIMP collides with a xenon nucleus we expect it to produce a burst of light.

    Before delivery to SURF the cryostat underwent several weeks of rigorous testing and a month-long thorough clean from an expert cleaning company in California. Five years after the design efforts started, the cryostat arrived safely at SURF and the LZ team then carefully unwrapped it and put it into place.

    “It’s a great experience to see all of the planning for LZ paying off with the arrival of components,” said Murdock “Gil” Gilchriese, LZ project director and a Berkeley Lab physicist. “We look forward to seeing these components fully assembled and installed underground in preparation for the start of LZ science.”

    UK PI for LZ is Professor Henrique Araujo from Imperial College London and he said: “It is incredibly gratifying to see LZ beginning to take shape. Seeing the cryostat arrive is a milestone moment as it has been years in the making.

    “Now we have to wait for the other constituent elements to arrive before we can start to see some exciting science taking place at this ground-breaking facility.”

    LZ will be at least 100 times more sensitive to finding signals from dark matter particles than its predecessor, the Large Underground Xenon experiment (LUX). The new experiment will use 10 metric tons of ultra-purified liquid xenon, to tease out possible dark matter signals. Xenon, in its gas form, is one of the rarest elements in Earth’s atmosphere.

    Although this is a major milestone for the experiment, there are still many components yet to be assembled and tested. Upgrades of the underground Davis cavern at SURF, where LZ will be installed, are in progress and will be completed by August and large acrylic tanks that will help to validate LZ measurements are expected to arrive at SURF by September. It is currently expected that the experiment will start taking data in 2020.

    The U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is leading the LZ project, which is expected to be completed in 2020. About 200 scientists and engineers from 39 institutions around the globe are part of the LZ collaboration.

    Since the project’s inception in 2012, STFC has been in charge of the design and the delivery of the cryostat. The engineering effort has been led by Joseph Saba, a Berkeley Lab mechanical engineer, and Edward Holtom of STFC’s Technology Department.

    Majewski said, “The cryostat was a feat of engineering, with some very stringent and challenging requirements. Because of its huge mass (about 2.2 tons), we had to make sure it was made of ultrapure titanium or it would overwhelm the detector with background radiation. It took more than two years to find titanium pure enough to work with.”

    He added, “This type of ultrapure titanium is used, for example, in the health care industry to fabricate pacemaker encapsulations. In our case it is used to hold the heart of the experiment.”

    The cryostat is the U.K.’s largest contribution to LZ but is not the only contribution. STFC is also supporting work on LZ’s calibration hardware, photomultiplier tubes, internal monitoring sensors, and materials screening, and is supporting one of the LZ data centers.

    Professor Henrique Araújo of Imperial College London, who is the U.K.’s principal investigator for LZ, said, “It is incredibly gratifying to see LZ beginning to take shape. Seeing the cryostat arrive is a milestone moment as it has been years in the making. This is the first big piece around which we will build the rest of the experiment.”

    There are still many LZ components yet to be assembled and tested. The experiment is expected to start taking data in 2020.

    Upgrades of the underground Davis cavern at SURF, where LZ will be installed, are in progress and will be completed by August, Gilchriese said, and large acrylic tanks that will help to validate LZ measurements are expected to arrive at SURF by September.

    Major support for LZ comes from the DOE Office of Science, the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority, the UK’s Science & Technology Facilities Council, and by collaboration members in South Korea and Portugal.

    See the full STFC article here.
    See the full LBNL article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:38 am on April 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Neutron diffraction helps unlock the secrets of ice, Pearl diffractometer, STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council, UK’s ISIS Neutron and Muon Source,   

    From UCL viaSTFC: “Neutron diffraction helps unlock the secrets of ice” 

    UCL bloc

    University College London


    STFC

    1
    A schematic drawing of the upgraded Pearl diffractometer showing the 90 degrees and low angle detectors. (Credit: STFC).

    11 April 2018

    New research undertaken by scientists using the UK’s ISIS Neutron and Muon Source is improving our understanding of the highly unusual properties of ice and this knowledge will be of importance to any future study where ice coexists with other materials in nature, for example on icy moons such as Jupiter’s Europa.

    Although water is one of the most common elements, the complex properties of water and particularly ice are not well understood. There are many forms of ice, which are completely different to the ice you would find in a freezer.

    As water freezes its’ molecules rearrange themselves, and high pressure causes the molecules to rearrange in different ways than they normally would. The many distinct phases of ice can be explained using a phase diagram, which shows the preferred physical states of matter at different temperatures and pressures.

    Researchers from University College London (UCL) and STFC’s ISIS Neutron and Muon Source have used the PEARL high pressure neutron diffractometer at ISIS to investigate the impact of ammonium fluoride impurities on water’s phase diagram.

    The scientists discovered that the addition of this impurity caused a particular phase of ice, known as ice II, to completely disappear from water’s phase diagram whereas the other phases were unaffected.

    The many different phases of ice can be grouped into one of two types – hydrogen-ordered phases and hydrogen-disordered phases. In these different phases the orientation of water molecules is either firmly defined or disordered.

    Ice II is a hydrogen-ordered phase of ice that forms under conditions of high pressure. Unlike other phases of ice, ice II remains thermodynamically stable and hydrogen-ordered up to very high temperatures and the origin of this anomalous result is not well understood.

    Dr Christoph G. Salzmann, UCL said: “Without in-situ neutron diffraction we could not have performed this study. It was paramount to demonstrate that ice II has disappeared in the region of the phase diagram where it would normally exist.”

    “Unlike the other phases the water molecules in ice II interact with each other over very long distances. In a sense, whatever happens to one water molecule in a crystal of ice II – the effect is “felt” by all other molecules. In our study, ice II experiences a disturbance by the ammonium fluoride which destabilizes all of the ice II and makes it disappear.”

    This observation allowed researchers to infer important information on the highly unusual properties of ice II and the special properties of ice II provide a new explanation as to why the phase diagram of water displays so many anomalies, including liquid water.

    The results have been published in Nature Physics.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

    UCL campus

    UCL was founded in 1826 to open up higher education in England to those who had been excluded from it – becoming the first university in England to admit women students on equal terms with men in 1878.

    Academic excellence and research that addresses real-world problems inform our ethos to this day and are central to our 20-year strategy.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:34 pm on April 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , European Research Council (ERC), HiPERCAM will also allow astronomers to study planets and asteroids, Seeing the remnants of dead stars – white dwarfs neutron stars and black holes, STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council, STFC HiPERCAM mounted on the Gran Telescopio Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma in the Canaries Spain Altitude 2267 meters7438 ft   

    From STFC: “Revolutionary camera captures images of space in unprecedented detail” 


    STFC

    3 April 2018

    STFC HiPERCAM mounted on the Gran Telescopio Canarias, at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, Spain. Altitude 2,267 meters (7,438 ft)


    Gran Telescopio Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, Spain, sited on a volcanic peak 2,267 metres (7,438 ft) above sea level

    A new, UK-built camera which can take over 1,000 images per second and will revolutionise our understanding of stars and black holes has now been fitted to the world’s largest optical telescope.

    The pioneering HiPERCAM, built at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC), will take high-speed moving images of objects in the Universe, allowing phenomena such as eclipses and explosions to be studied in unprecedented detail.

    Data captured by the camera will be taken in five different colours simultaneously, allowing scientists to see the remnants of dead stars – white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes. These are key objects in astrophysics as their extreme gravities, densities and pressures allow researchers to test theories of fundamental physics.

    By observing how the brightness of stars change as their planets and objects in our solar system pass across earth’s line of sight, HiPERCAM will also allow astronomers to study planets and asteroids.

    The HiPERCAM project is led by Professor Vik Dhillon and his team at the University of Sheffield in partnership with the UK ATC, based in Edinburgh.

    Wide-angle view of STFC HiPERCAM mounted on the Gran Telescopio Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries, Spain Altitude 2,267 m (7,438 ft)

    Investing in ground-breaking science, research and innovation is at the heart of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy, and Science and Universities Minister, Sam Gyimah, said: “The vital role that STFC and UK Universities played in developing HiPERCAM is a testament to the work of our world class scientists. This game-changing camera that will be installed on the world’s largest telescope will not only deepen our understanding of white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes in our universe, but it will help maintain our reputation as being a global-leader in R&D.

    “It is projects such as these, and collaboration with partners and universities from across the world, which underpins our ambitious modern Industrial Strategy to boost innovation and help create a Britain fit for the future.”

    The pioneering five-year project was funded by a €3.5million grant from the European Research Council (ERC). The camera has been mounted on the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) – the world’s largest telescope based on the island of La Palma situated more than 2,500 metres above sea level.

    Martin Black, an optical engineer from UK ATC and part of the HiPERCAM team, said: “HiPERCAM was a challenging project that pushed the design team to fit a lot of scientific potential into a small space.

    The team had to work closely together to ensure everything fit together and to correctly position the cameras to around 30 microns, about the width of a human hair.”

    Professor Dhillon said: “Normal cameras capture one picture a second, HiPERCAM takes 1,000 pictures a second. HiPERCAM provides us with a unique, new view of the Universe, which history tells us is when major new discoveries are made.

    Astronomers are excited to start using HiPERCAM on the GTC to start exploring the Universe at high speed.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:44 pm on March 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council,   

    From STFC: “UK joins World Leading X-Ray Laser Facility” 


    STFC

    3.19.18
    Jake Gilmore
    STFC Media Manager
    07970994586

    The UK has today become the latest member state of the European XFEL, the international research facility that is home to the world’s largest X-ray laser.

    DESY European XFEL


    European XFEL


    European XFEL


    European XFEL Campus

    Sited in Germany the European XFEL is capable of generating extremely intense X-ray laser flashes that offer new research opportunities for scientists across the world. Its range of capabilities include enabling researchers to take three-dimensional “photos” of the nanoworld, “film” chemical reactions as they happen and study processes such as those that occur deep inside planets.

    In a ceremony at the British Embassy in Berlin, representatives of the UK government and the other contract parties, including the German federal government, signed the documents to join the European XFEL Convention. The UK is European XFEL’s twelfth member state. The UK’s contribution will amount to 26million Euro, or about 2% of the total construction budget of 1.22 billion Euro (both in 2005 prices) and an annual contribution of about 2% to the operation budget. The UK will be represented in European XFEL by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) as shareholder.

    UK Science Minister Sam Gyimah said:

    “The incredible XFEL laser will help us better understand life threatening diseases by using one of the world’s most powerful X-ray machines. Working with our international partners, the super-strength laser will help develop new medical treatments and therapies, potentially saving thousands of lives across the world.

    “Through our modern Industrial Strategy we are investing an extra £4.7 billion into research and development. I am determined that we continue to secure our position as being a world-leader in science, research and innovation and I can’t wait to see the results that come from our participation in this extraordinary project.”

    Although not an official shareholder until today the UK has been involved with XFEL since 2008 through both collaboration on technology and the two XFEL User Consortia. The first advanced detector to be installed at the European XFEL, the Large Pixel Detector (LPD), a cutting-edge X-ray “camera” capable of capturing images in billionths of a second, was developed and built by STFC. The LPD was installed mid-2017 and is now operational at the instrument for Femtosecond X-ray Experiments (FXE) at European XFEL.

    In addition the STFC Central Laser Facility, based at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford in the UK is currently building a nanosecond high energy laser for the High Energy Density (HED) instrument at European XFEL. This new “Dipole” laser will be used to recreate the conditions found within stars.

    Dr Brian Bowsher, Chief Executive of STFC, said:

    “As the UK becomes a full member of XFEL it opens up areas of research for British scientists at the atomic, molecular and nanoscale level that are currently inaccessible. This signing today reinforces our continued strategy to ensure UK science remains at the very forefront of global research by collaborating with the best scientists in the world and using the best facilities.

    The capabilities offered by XFEL are already opening up entirely new scientific opportunities and this is a very important day for both UK science and STFC. Building on the contributions already made to XFEL by both STFC research and engineering staff and other UK researchers, I look forward with immense interest to see what my fellow UK research colleagues and the XFEL team will discover in the coming years”.

    The UK has also developed a training facility at the Diamond Light Source on the Harwell campus in Oxfordshire for British scientists. The UK XFEL life sciences hub will enable users to fully prepare for their experiments with XFELs.

    Chair of the European XFEL Council Professor Martin Meedom Nielsen who was present at the signing said:

    “All member states are very happy that the United Kingdom now officially joins the European XFEL. The UK science community has been very active in the project since the very beginning, and their contribution of ideas and know-how has always been highly appreciated. Together, we will maintain and develop the European XFEL as a world leading facility for X-ray science.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:34 am on March 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Gamma-ray laser, , , STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council, , University of Jyväskylä Accelerator Laboratory Finland, University of Surrey   

    From STFC: “UK researchers take a very cool step towards a gamma-ray laser” 


    STFC

    28 February 2018

    Wendy Ellison
    Science and Technology Facilities Council
    Tel: 01925 603232
    wendy.ellison@stfc.ac.uk

    1
    The dedicated beamline ready for UK experiments to produce the world’s first coherent gamma rays at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. (Credit: UCL).

    UK scientists are poised to test a new technology that could bring the gamma-ray laser out of science fiction and into reality.

    The gamma-ray laser was once described as one of the thirty most important problems in physics. Much discussed, it would herald a new generation of technology for research and industry, with enhanced applications that could range from spacecraft propulsion, to cancer treatment, ultra-precise imaging techniques, and the security sector.

    A key stepping stone in making the gamma-ray laser possible is the ability to produce coherent gamma-ray emissions. A long standing challenge since lasers were first invented in 1960, coherent gamma-ray emissions have been considered an almost impossible task, until now.

    In a research project funded by STFC, a UK team of researchers from University College London and the University of Surrey have combined their advanced atomic and nuclear physics expertise to conceive a proposal that will experimentally demonstrate that producing coherent gamma-ray emissions is a real possibility. The proposal, arguably the first of its kind, is testable in a realistic way that has never been considered before. It will seek to overcome a number of fundamental problems which have hindered the realisation of a gamma-ray laser. Until now, other proposals either have been testable only in principle, or would require technologies not yet available. The approach of the UCL and Surrey team is instead achievable with current technology. Full details of this fascinating research have been published in Physics Letters B.

    Professor Phil Walker, Professor of Physics at the University of Surrey, said: “It is thanks to recent advances in our ability to make ultra-cold gases, and also in our understanding about the way that nuclei in specific gasses can behave so uniquely, that we have been able to even consider that such an exciting and potentially game-changing experiment could be possible. We could be on our way to being one step closer to solving one of the most challenging problems in physics.”

    This research is no longer just theory. UCL’s Professor of Physics, Professor Ferruccio Renzoni, and his team are now busy setting up an experiment at the University of Jyväskylä Accelerator Laboratory in Finland. Key components, assembled at UCL, are already in place in Finland at the experimental facility. There, a cyclotron particle accelerator will produce the unstable caesium, and the UCL’s laser system will trap and cool it to 100 nano-kelvin, with a view to successfully producing the world’s first coherent gamma-ray emissions.

    Professor Ferruccio Renzoni said: “If the project goes as planned, our experiment in Finland will show that it is possible to produce coherent gamma radiation in this way, and will lead on to further tests that will confirm the best conditions for scaling up to make a practical device, the gamma-ray laser, over the coming years. In the meantime, several milestones in atomic physics and new insights in nuclear behaviour will be available for us to study.”

    Professor John Simpson, Head of STFC’s Nuclear Physics Group, said: “Here in the UK we are making exciting progress in the world’s quest to develop the technology that will make a gamma-ray laser possible. The social and economic benefits of such technology will be dramatic. I look forward to the results that the UK research team will achieve with their international collaborators at Jyväskylä in Finland.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:19 am on February 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council   

    From STFC: “UK laser experiment mimics black hole environment” 


    STFC

    7 February 2018

    1
    The Gemini laser at CLF. (Credit: STFC)

    UK physicists have for the first time used an extremely powerful laser beam to slow down electrons travelling at near-light speeds – a quantum mechanical phenomenon thought to occur only around objects like black holes. By producing this effect in a lab, scientists hope to provide valuable insight into subatomic processes in the universe’s most extreme environments.

    Fast electrons, especially when they travel at near light speeds, are very difficult to stop. Often you require highly dense materials – such as lead – to stop them or slow them down. But now, scientists have shown that they can slow these superfast electrons using a very thin sheet of light; they squeeze trillions of light particles – photons – into a sheet that is a fraction of human hair in thickness.

    When light hits an object some of the light bounces back from the surface, often changing its colour (to even X-rays and gamma rays if the object is moving fast) – however, if the object is moving extremely fast and if the light is incredibly intense, strange things can happen.

    Electrons, for example, can be shaken so violently that they actually slow down because they radiate so much energy. Quantum physics is required to fully explain this phenomenon. Physicists call this process ‘radiation reaction’, which is thought to occur around objects such as black holes and quasars.

    Now, a team of researchers have demonstrated radiation reaction for the first time using the Gemini laser at the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s Central Laser Facility in Oxfordshire.

    Gemini scientist Dr Dan Symes said: “Experiments like these are extremely complicated to set up and very difficult to perform. Essentially, you need to focus a laser beam as big as an A4 size paper sheet down to a few microns and hit it with a micron-sized electron bullet that’s travelling very close to the speed of light.”

    Gemini Group Leader, Dr Rajeev Pattathil added: “You need two extremely well-synchronised high power laser beams for this: one to produce the high energy electron beam and another to shoot it. Gemini’s dual-beam capability makes it an ideal facility for these types of experiments. Gemini is one of the very few places in the world where such cutting-edge experiments can be performed.”

    The research team, led by Imperial College academic Dr Stuart Mangles, were able to observe this radiation reaction by colliding a laser beam that is one quadrillion times brighter than light at the surface of the Sun with a high-energy beam of electrons. All this energy had to be delivered in a very short duration – just 40 femtoseconds long, or 40 quadrillionths of a second.

    Senior author of the study [Physical Review X] Dr Mangles said: “We knew we had been successful in colliding the two beams when we detected very bright high energy gamma-ray radiation.

    “The real result then came when we compared this detection with the energy in the electron beam after the collision. We found that these successful collisions had a lower than expected electron energy, which is clear evidence of radiation reaction.”

    Study co-author Professor Alec Thomas, from Lancaster University and the University of Michigan, added: “One thing I always find so fascinating about this is that the electrons are stopped as effectively by this sheet of light, a fraction of a hair’s breadth thick, as by something like a millimetre of lead. That is extraordinary.”

    However more experiments at even higher intensity or with even higher energy electron beams will be needed to confirm if this is true. The team will be carrying out these experiments in the coming year.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:09 am on October 17, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council,   

    From STFC: “Crashing neutron stars unlock secrets of the Universe – thanks to UK tech” 


    STFC

    16 October 2017
    Jake Gilmore; STFC Media Manager – 07970994586
    jake.gilmore@stfc.ac.uk

    Mike Bishop; Senior Communications Officer, Cardiff University – Tel: 02920 874499 / 07713 325300
    bishopm1@cardiff.ac.uk

    Luke Sullivan; Communications Manager (Science), University of Birmingham – Tel: 0121 414 5134 / 07789 921165
    l.harrison.1@bham.ac.uk

    Liz Buie; Communications and Public Affairs Office, University of Glasgow – 0141 330 2702 / 07527 335373
    Liz.Buie@glasgow.ac.uk

    Ather Mirza; Division of External Relations, University of Leicester – Tel: +44 (0)116 2523335 / m: +44 (0) 7711 927821
    am47@leicester.ac.uk

    Emma Gallagher; Communications Officer, Queen’s University Belfast – Tel: 028 9097 5384
    emma.gallagher@qub.ac.uk

    Tom Frew; Senior Press and Media Relations Manager, University of Warwick – Tel: 02476575910 / 07785433155
    a.t.frew@warwick.ac.uk

    1
    Cataclysmic collision. (Credit: NSF/LIGO/Sonoma State University/A. Simonnet)

    In a galaxy far away, two dead stars begin a final spiral into a massive collision. The resulting explosion unleashes a huge burst of energy, sending ripples across the very fabric of space. In the nuclear cauldron of the collision, atoms are ripped apart to form entirely new elements and scattered outward across the Universe.

    It could be a scenario from science fiction, but it really happened 130 million years ago — in the NGC 4993 galaxy in the Hydra constellation, at a time here on Earth when dinosaurs still ruled and flowering plants were only just evolving.

    Today, dozens of UK scientists and their international collaborators representing 70 observatories worldwide announced the detection of this event and the significant “scientific firsts” it has revealed about our Universe.

    Those ripples in space finally reached Earth at 1.41pm UK time, on Thursday 17 August 2017, and were recorded by the twin detectors of the US-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and its European counterpart Virgo.


    VIRGO Gravitational Wave interferometer, near Pisa, Italy

    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo Hanford, WA, USA installation


    Caltech/MIT Advanced aLigo detector installation Livingston, LA, USA

    Cornell SXS, the Simulating eXtreme Spacetimes (SXS) project

    Gravitational waves. Credit: MPI for Gravitational Physics/W.Benger-Zib

    ESA/eLISA the future of gravitational wave research

    1
    Skymap showing how adding Virgo to LIGO helps in reducing the size of the source-likely region in the sky. (Credit: Giuseppe Greco (Virgo Urbino group)

    A few seconds later, the gamma-ray burst from the collision was recorded by two specialist space telescopes, and over following weeks, other space- and ground-based telescopes recorded the aftermath of the massive explosion. UK developed engineering and technology is at the heart of many of the instruments used for the detection and analysis.

    Dr John Veitch, who is co-chair of LIGO’s Compact Binary Coalescence Search Group and Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow’s School of Physics and Astronomy and played a leading role in the GW170817 data analysis said: “One key difference between the gravitational wave signals from binary black holes and binary neutron stars is that neutron stars are many times lighter than black holes. This means that the gravitational wave signal from neutron stars linger for a much greater period in the detector – for around 100 seconds as opposed to just a fraction of a second for binary black holes. A longer signal means we can glean much more information about the source.”

    Studying the data confirmed scientists’ initial conclusion that the event was the collision of a pair of neutron stars – the remnants of once gigantic stars, but collapsed down into approximately the size of a city.

    UK Science Minister, Jo Johnson, said “Today’s announcement of the latest detection of gravitational waves is another important development in our understanding of the universe which has been made possible by UK research and technology.

    “The recent awarding of the Nobel Prize for Physics to gravitational waves research is clear recognition of the importance of this area. The UK plays a significant role in these detections, enabling us to continue building our reputation as a world leader in science and innovation which is a core part of our Industrial Strategy.”

    There are a number of “firsts” associated with this event, including the first detection of both gravitational waves and electromagnetic radiation (EM) – while existing astronomical observatories “see” EM across different frequencies (eg, optical, infra-red, gamma ray etc), gravitational waves are not EM but instead ripples in the fabric of space requiring completely different detection techniques. An analogy is that LIGO and Virgo “hear” the Universe.

    The announcement also confirmed the first direct evidence that short gamma ray bursts are linked to colliding neutron stars. The shape of the gravitational waveform also provided a direct measure of the distance to the source, and it was the first confirmation and observation of the previously theoretical cataclysmic aftermaths of this kind of merger – a kilonova.

    Additional research papers on the aftermath of the event have also produced new understanding of how heavy elements such as gold and platinum are created by supernova and stellar collisions and then spread through the Universe. More such original science results are still under current analysis.

    By combining gravitational-wave and electromagnetic signals together, researchers also used a new technique to measure the expansion rate of the Universe. This technique was first proposed in 1986 by University of Cardiff’s Professor Bernard Schutz.

    UK astronomers using the VISTA telescope in Chile were among the first to locate the new source.


    ESO/Vista Telescope at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    “We were really excited when we first got notification that a neutron star merger had been detected by LIGO,” said Professor Nial Tanvir from the University of Leicester, who leads a paper in [The] Astrophysical Journal Letters today. “We immediately triggered observations on several telescopes in Chile to search for the explosion that we expected it to produce. In the end we stayed up all night analysing the images as they came in, and it was remarkable how well the observations matched the theoretical predictions that had been made.”

    Dr Kate Maguire, from Queen’s University Belfast was part of the team studying the burst of light from the smashing together of the two neutron stars “Using rapid-response triggering at some of the world’s best telescopes, we have discovered that this neutron-star merger scattered heavy chemical elements, such as gold and platinum, out into space at high speeds. These new results have significantly contributed to solving the long-debated mystery of the origin of elements heavier than iron in the periodic table.”

    Once the location of the collision was pin-pointed, scientists quickly maneuvered the Swift satellite to examine the aftermath with its X-ray and UV/optical telescopes.

    NASA/SWIFT Telescope

    “We didn’t detect any X-rays from the object, which was surprising given the gamma ray detection,” said Dr Phil Evans from the University of Leicester, lead-author of a paper published today in Science. “But we did find bright ultra-violet emission, which most people were not expecting. This discovery helped us to pin down what happened after the neutron star collision was detected by LIGO and Virgo.”

    4
    Artists impression of merging neutron stars
    (Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/M. Kornmesser)

    Professor Alberto Vecchio from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Gravitational Wave Astronomy said: “Detecting for the first time gravitational waves from the coalescence of a binary neutron star is fantastic, and even more so that we could do it almost in real time and precisely locate this source in the sky. If fact, telescopes around the world could then point at that little patch in the sky and show us over hours, days and weeks extra-ordinary events set in motion by this cataclysmic collision as the emerging radiation swept the whole electromagnetic spectrum.”

    Chief Executive Designate of UK Research and Innovation, Sir Mark Walport said: “Over a hundred years ago Einstein introduced his revolutionary General Theory of Relativity. In this, space and time were no longer absolute, no longer a fixed background to events, he proposed the existence of gravitational waves as a way to understanding the origins of the Universe.

    “The latest gravitational waves announcement, today, includes the first direct evidence that short gamma ray bursts are linked to colliding neutron stars and is the result of outstanding international collaboration. This spectacular discovery is built on ambition and tenacity of international partnerships. I am proud that UK Science is at the heart of many of the instruments and detectors used for today’s historic announcement”

    Dr Brian Bowsher, Chief Executive of the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council, said: “This new gravitational wave discovery will inspire many young people into the world of science as it reinforces the fact that there is still so much we can learn about how the Universe works. It offers new insights into the field of astronomy as well as showcasing how technological breakthroughs made by UK engineers and scientists made this latest understanding possible.”

    For science papers see https://sciencesprings.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/from-hubble-nasa-missions-catch-first-light-from-a-gravitational-wave-event/

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:00 am on October 4, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Astrobiology - BISAL, Boulby Underground Laboratory, DRIFT-II, Muon Tomography and Deep Carbon and Muon-Tides, SKY-ZERO, STFC - Science and Technology Facilities Council, Ultra-low Background Gamma Spectrometry   

    From STFC: “Boulby Underground Laboratory” 


    STFC

    10.4.17

    Welcome to Boulby Underground Laboratory, the UK’s deep underground science facility, located 1100m below ground in Boulby Mine on the North East coast of England.

    5

    7

    Boulby is one of just a handful of facilities world-wide suitable for hosting ultra-low background and deep underground science projects. Boulby is a special place for science – ‘a quiet place in the Universe’ – where studies can be carried out almost entirely free of interference from natural background radiation.

    Studies underway at Boulby range from the search for Dark Matter in the Universe, to studies of cosmic rays and climate, astrobiology and life in extreme environments, development of techniques for deep 3D geological monitoring and studies of radioactivity in the environment.

    For more information visit the Boulby Underground Laboratory website.

    Overview of the Laboratory

    The Boulby Underground Laboratory is one of just a handful of facilities world-wide suitable for hosting ultra-low background and deep underground science projects. Boulby is a special place for science – ‘a Quiet Place in the Universe’ – where studies can be carried out almost entirely free of interference from natural background radiation.

    The Boulby laboratory is located at Boulby Mine, between Saltburn and Whitby on the North-East coast of England and on the edge of the North Yorkshire moors.

    Boulby is a working potash, polyhalite and rock-salt mine operated by Cleveland Potash Ltd. At 1100m deep, it is the deepest mine in Great Britain.

    There are a huge network of roadways and caverns underground at Boulby with over 1000kms of tunnel having been excavated since beginning of mining operations in 1968. The salt and potash seams are left over from the evaporation of an ancient sea (the Zechstein Sea) over 200 million years ago. The main roadways and long-lasting caverns are cut into the rock-salt layer. Within the salt caverns, UK scientists and engineers have built a series of laboratories. With over 1100m of rock overhead reducing cosmic rays by a factor 1 million – and with the surrounding rock salt being low in natural background radioactivity – the laboratories make an ideal site for ultra-low background and deep underground science projects.

    The support facilities at Boulby include a dedicated surface building with staging / storage, workshop, health & safety, mess and office facilities. Underground there is over 1000m2 of laboratory floor space. The most recent laboratory space (the Palmer laboratory) has >750 m2 of clean-room floor space, with air conditioning / filtration, power, craning facilities, telephone and internet access, workshop & storage facilities etc. The mine operators Cleveland Potash Ltd provide additional essential support facilities.

    For a number of years Boulby has hosted the UK’s Dark Matter search studies, operating some of the most sensitive detectors in the world to try to detect Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) the strongest candidate for the missing matter in the universe. Boulby continues to host Dark Matter search studies, currently with the DRIFT-II project, the world most sensitive directional dark matter detector.

    Recently it has become clear that access and work-space in a deep underground environment is highly valuable in a broad range of science areas beyond astrophysics. This is very much in evidence at Boulby with a number of new studies underway or evolving including studies of cosmic rays and climate, astrobiology and life in extreme environments, development of techniques for deep 3D geological monitoring and various gamma spectroscopy studies of radioactivity in the environment. The Boulby Underground Science Facility is funded by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and operates in close partnership with the Boulby mine operating company Cleveland Potash Limited.

    DRIFT-II

    DRIFT is a low-pressure gas dark matter detector with direction-sensitivity for incident particles. In the search for Dark Matter a detector with direction-sensitivity is expected to provide the strongest signature in the case of a positive WIMP detection as well as enabling progress towards post-detection dark matter WIMP halo astronomy. DRIFT-II, the current DRIFT detector at Boulby, is the most sensitive directional dark matter in the world.

    DRIFT-II is a 1m3 gas-filled Time Projection Chamber (TPC) using electronegative (CS2) gas to reduce diffusion giving maximum track reconstruction resolution. DRIFT can operate in either spin-dependent or spin-independent mode depending on the fill gas mixture used. DRIFT is both limit-setting and undergoing R&D with various studies of technique/system performance and optimisation underway.

    Participating institutions:

    Sheffield University
    Edinburgh University
    Occidental College
    University of New Mexico
    Colorado State University

    SKY-ZERO

    SKY-ZERO is a Danish / UK project to better understand the role of cosmic rays in aerosol formation in the atmosphere. Aerosols are known to be important in climate models, but the mechanisms and variables behind their creation and growth are poorly understood.

    This experiment looks at the effect of controlled levels of ionisation on aerosol growth in an instrumented steel chamber containing pure air and trace additives to simulate, as well as possible, typical Earth’s atmospheres.

    Operating the experiment at Boulby and within a purpose build lead and copper ‘castle’ allows the ion-induced nucleation mechanism to be studied at lower ionisation levels than ever before. Thus enabling the investigation of (and unambiguous discrimination between) ‘neutral’ and ‘ion-induced aerosol’ nucleation and growth mechanisms.

    Participating institutions:

    Danish National Space Institute
    STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
    Birmingham University
    Manchester University
    Oxford University

    Muon Tomography and Deep Carbon, Muon-Tides

    Studies are underway to explore the use of Muon Tomography for deep 3D geological surveying applications. Muons are highly penetrating charged particles that are produced by cosmic rays from space and bombard the Earths atmosphere. On the Earth’s surface about 1 muon passes through an area the size of your hand per second.

    Deep underground muons are attenuated by many orders of magnitude but the muons that do penetrate can potentially be used to produce an ‘image’ of the structures above. The technique, ‘Muon Tomography’, is similar to CT scanning in medical imaging, but as muons are more penetrating than X-rays much larger and deeper structures can be imaged.

    Muon tomography has already been successfully used to image deep structures such as the interior of volcanoes and pyramids. Work is now underway to explore the use of the technique for imaging even deeper structures, with possible applications in mining and in monitoring for deep sub-surface storage initiatives such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). With its existing deep underground science facility, its depth and ease of access to underground spaces of various depths Boulby is uniquely well suited to the development of muon tomography techniques and instrumentation.

    Participating institutions:

    STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
    Durham University
    Sheffield University
    Bath University
    NASA-JPL

    Astrobiology – BISAL

    The field of ‘astrobiology’ seeks to investigate the limits of life on the Earth, the possibility of life beyond Earth, to prepare for the eventual human exploration and settlement of space and to apply this work to environmental challenges on the Earth. Boulby Mine, with its unique geology and existing deep underground science facility infrastructure, offers potential to make key advances in these areas.

    To facilitate Astrobiology at Boulby we are establishing the Boulby International Subsurface Astrobiology Laboratory (BISAL) connected to the current Palmer Lab. A rich programme of Astrobiology work is underway for BISAL including studies of life at depth and life in salt (both of significance to studies of life on Mars), studies of the effects of radiation (and lack of it) on life and the evolution of life. Boulby is also being used as a UK ‘Analogue’ site where exploration techniques and instrumentation for the exploration of other planetary bodies can be tested in remote & realistic conditions (MINAR – Mining and Analogue Research). The analogue programme, run by the UK Centre for Astrobiology, currently involves other organisations including NASA, Surrey Space Centre and DLR.

    In addition to the usefulness in astrobiology it is anticipated that some of the instrumentation development work in the above will also be of relevance to industrial geological exploration needs, for example in mining, and effort will be made to explore and exploit these links when found.

    Participating institutions:

    STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
    Edinburgh University

    Ultra-low Background Gamma Spectrometry

    The technique of gamma spectrometry using high sensitivity germanium detectors enables researchers to measure and identify trace levels of radioactivity in samples – an important and useful capability in a variety of studies from material selection in ‘rare-event physics’ to numerous studies of the environment.

    Boulby currently operates a 2kg ultra-low background germanium detector for gamma spectrometry. Operating such a system deep underground, free of interference from cosmic rays, enables improved sensitivities of orders of magnitude compared to that achieved in surface facilities allowing the very lowest levels of radioactivity to be measured.

    Participating institutions:

    STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
    University College London
    Royal Holloway University
    Sheffield University
    Edinburgh University
    Glasgow University
    The Scottish University Environmental Research Centre (SUERC)

    Contacts

    For all enquiries, please contact:

    Dr Sean Paling
    sean.paling@stfc.ac.uk

    How to find us

    Boulby Underground Science Facility
    Boulby Mine
    Loftus, Saltburn-by-the-Sea
    Cleveland, TS13 4UZ

    Tel: +44 (0)1287 646 300
    Mob: +44 (0)781 5520 853

    Download a map of where we are

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    STFC Hartree Centre

    Helping build a globally competitive, knowledge-based UK economy

    We are a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. Our strength comes from our distinct but interrelated functions:

    Universities: we support university-based research, innovation and skills development in astronomy, particle physics, nuclear physics, and space science
    Scientific Facilities: we provide access to world-leading, large-scale facilities across a range of physical and life sciences, enabling research, innovation and skills training in these areas
    National Campuses: we work with partners to build National Science and Innovation Campuses based around our National Laboratories to promote academic and industrial collaboration and translation of our research to market through direct interaction with industry
    Inspiring and Involving: we help ensure a future pipeline of skilled and enthusiastic young people by using the excitement of our sciences to encourage wider take-up of STEM subjects in school and future life (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)

    We support an academic community of around 1,700 in particle physics, nuclear physics, and astronomy including space science, who work at more than 50 universities and research institutes in the UK, Europe, Japan and the United States, including a rolling cohort of more than 900 PhD students.

    STFC-funded universities produce physics postgraduates with outstanding high-end scientific, analytic and technical skills who on graduation enjoy almost full employment. Roughly half of our PhD students continue in research, sustaining national capability and creating the bedrock of the UK’s scientific excellence. The remainder – much valued for their numerical, problem solving and project management skills – choose equally important industrial, commercial or government careers.

    Our large-scale scientific facilities in the UK and Europe are used by more than 3,500 users each year, carrying out more than 2,000 experiments and generating around 900 publications. The facilities provide a range of research techniques using neutrons, muons, lasers and x-rays, and high performance computing and complex analysis of large data sets.

    They are used by scientists across a huge variety of science disciplines ranging from the physical and heritage sciences to medicine, biosciences, the environment, energy, and more. These facilities provide a massive productivity boost for UK science, as well as unique capabilities for UK industry.

    Our two Campuses are based around our Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, and our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire – each of which offers a different cluster of technological expertise that underpins and ties together diverse research fields.

    The combination of access to world-class research facilities and scientists, office and laboratory space, business support, and an environment which encourages innovation has proven a compelling combination, attracting start-ups, SMEs and large blue chips such as IBM and Unilever.

    We think our science is awesome – and we know students, teachers and parents think so too. That’s why we run an extensive Public Engagement and science communication programme, ranging from loans to schools of Moon Rocks, funding support for academics to inspire more young people, embedding public engagement in our funded grant programme, and running a series of lectures, travelling exhibitions and visits to our sites across the year.

    Ninety per cent of physics undergraduates say that they were attracted to the course by our sciences, and applications for physics courses are up – despite an overall decline in university enrolment.

     
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