The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has formed a Photon Science Department to coordinate the operation and development of STFC’s light source facilities and associated science.
The department pulls together the expertise in the STFC’s Central Laser Facility in Didcot and the Synchrotron Radiation Department at Daresbury, and will be led by Prof Mike Dunne, who is currently the director of the Central Laser Facility.
The new light source project will make use of combined accelerator and laser technology to provide ultra-short pulses to explore the dynamics of matter across many scientific disciplines.
Dunne said ‘The opportunity to combine the extremely high peak powers and ultra-short pulse lengths available from lasers, with the huge average powers and spectral tuning ranges that accelerators can deliver has been recognised for some years. Recent advances in both fields offer even more exciting possibilities in the immediate future.
‘The opinion of the UK and international user community will be critically important in determining the scientific priorities for the new department, and the new light source project. As such, we will be seeking detailed comments over the next few months.’
Part of the consultation process on these new directions will include seeking opinion on the formation of a dedicated Research Institute for Photon Science. This will focus on the scientific exploitation of next-generation light sources such as Diamond, XFEL (X-ray Free Electron Laser), emerging laser facilities, and the new UK light source project.