Funding for Diamond Light Source

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has allocated £97.4m to the Science and Technology Facilities Council for Diamond Light Source’s Phase III development at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.

Diamond, the largest medium-energy light source in the world, is a giant synchrotron that generates brilliant beams of light — from infrared to X-rays — to examine the properties of materials at the atomic and molecular level. This has led to high-quality research in the life, physical and environmental sciences. Recent examples of materials studied have included brain tissue to further our understanding of Parkinson’s disease, and metal for hip replacements.

The funding, together with a £13.8m contribution from the Wellcome Trust, will add 10 more beamlines to the facility, eventually bringing the total to 32.

The new beamlines will extend Diamond’s reach into areas including industrial processing, engineering materials, forensics, environmental and medical science, archaeology, cultural heritage and food science.

Once the 10 new beamlines are operational, they are expected to facilitate the development of cheaper and more effective ways to remove toxins from polluted soils, which currently costs an estimated tens of billions of pounds; or provide high-resolution 3D images of biological samples, extending knowledge of diseases.

The beamlines will also help examine the electronic structure of complex materials that could have a potentially great impact on the development of ultra-fast electronic devices and materials for energy storage.