Her Majesty The Queen Officially Opens Diamond Light SourceOct 19, 2007
Gerd Materlik, CEO of Diamond, welcomes the Queen to the facility.
Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, officially opened Diamond Light Source, the UK’s new national synchrotron facility today (Friday 19 October 2007). Diamond is the largest science facility to be built in the UK for 40 years and is set to play a major role in facilitating ground breaking science that is carried out in this country over the coming decades.
The Royal Party toured the synchrotron machine – an incredible feat of science and engineering measuring over half a kilometre in circumference and covering an area over three times the footprint of Buckingham Palace. During the visit, they were shown how the powerful light is produced and exploited, along with the range of science to which Diamond has already started to contribute. Since the first research scientists were welcomed to Diamond in January 2007, a wide variety of experiments have taken place. These include research work that could potentially lead to drugs being available to prevent cancer cells from spreading, studying meteorites to understand the early solar system, examining ways to improve digital data storage through improved magnetic materials, and using the powerful X-rays to investigate fragile ancient parchments.
Diamond scientist Nick Terrill describes some of his research to the Queen.
The mood was definitely one of celebration as The Queen and The Duke met many of the staff, scientists, engineers and technicians from Diamond who have helped create this world class scientific facility in the Oxfordshire countryside in just five short years. As Professor Gerd Materlik, CEO of Diamond, said: "We feel extremely honoured by the Royal visit, which not only marks our official opening, but also pays tribute to all those involved with the design, construction and now operation of Diamond. From the very beginning, we have placed great emphasis on the importance of community collaboration. Early in 2007, we welcomed our first academic users from universities across the UK and in July an open day, attended by over 4,000 people, allowed us to share with the local community in Oxfordshire the wide range of science that has started here: from research into the structure of medicine to the mapping of chemical composition of meteorites".
Diamond scientist Thomas Sorensen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Technical director Richard Walker and Colin Norris
Professor Keith Mason, Chief Executive Officer of STFC, said:" Many of the everyday commodities we take for granted, from revolutionary drugs and surgical tools, to food and electronics, have been developed or improved using synchrotron light. The applications of this uniquely bright and intense light provide a wealth of direct benefits to society and the economy. Diamond represents the next generation of light sources in the UK, building on the heritage of the world’s first dedicated synchrotron which was constructed in 1981 at our Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire".
Commenting on this collaboration, Professor Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: "We are proud to have supported the Diamond Synchrotron from its conception to successful delivery. British science is world class. To keep it that way we need to ensure that the scientific community has access to world class infrastructure such as Diamond. The Diamond synchrotron is already revealing the crystal structures of important biological molecules some of which may serve as targets for future drug therapies. This is an exciting time for science."
Lord Triesman, Minister for Intellectual Property and Quality at the Department for Innovation Universities and Skills continues: "Over the years, very intense X-ray sources produced by synchrotrons have had an enormous impact on many areas of science, ranging from materials science to aircraft structures, right through to the structures of proteins and medical research. They have helped the development of the anti-flu drug Relenza and are improving vaccines to combat the foot and mouth virus, just two examples of this powerful technology in action. Diamond Light Source reflects the government’s strong commitment to funding research in the UK and ensures that we can justifiably claim our position at the leading edge of global scientific endeavour."
Her Majesty unveiled a sculpture and plaque commissioned by Kent sculptor Paula Groves to mark the official launch of the facility. After The Queen departed, the grand finale of the event was a parachute display by the British Army Parachute Regiment display team, the Red Devils, watched by the guests and schoolchildren from the local Chilton primary school.
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Notes to Editors
Funding and Investment:
- The investment for Phase I of the project amounts to a total of £260 million and includes the construction of the building, the synchrotron and the first seven beamlines
- A second phase of development is planned to include installation of a further 15 beamlines at an additional investment of £120 million
- Beamlines will then be added at an average of two to three per year to a maximum of approximately 30-35 research stations
- Diamond uses arrays of magnets to accelerate the electrons at nearly the speed of light and focus them to generate extremely intense pin-pointed beams of synchrotron light of exceptional quality
- In comparison with the current national synchrotron light source in Cheshire, the beams generated by Diamond will be up to 10,000 times brighter - around 100 billion times brighter than a standard hospital X-ray machine or 10 billion times brighter than the sun
- With state-of-the-art technology and in operation a team of about 300 dedicated staff, including engineers, scientists, support staff and technicians from around the world, Diamond aims to become one of the UK’s leading research bases by providing a unique environment, tailored specifically to the needs of the UK and European synchrotron user community
- 2 million man-hours (or 1,100 ‘man-years’) have been worked by the construction team Download pdf
- 2,100 tons of steel were erected, more than was used in the London Eye (1,600 tons of steel) and equal to around 300 London buses
- We’ve poured 35,000 m3 of concrete, enough to fill 14 Olympic size swimming pools
- The floor area is 45,000 m2, which is over 3 times the footprint of Buckingham Palace
The Mary Rose:
In 1545 Henry VIII’s revolutionary warship, the Mary Rose, capsized in the waters of the Solent. Over 400 years later, on 11 October 1982, archaeologists managed to raise her remains, but exposing these timbers to the air has increased the risk of decay. Scientists from Diamond will be working with scientists from the Mary Rose Trust, the National Museum of Scotland, STFC (Daresbury) and the University of Kent to help preserve the Mary Rose.
The Red Devils:
‘The Red Devils’ is the official parachute display team of both The Parachute Regiment and The British Army. The team’s members are widely regarded as among the best display parachutists in the world. Formed in 1964, the Red Devils carry out more than 100 spectacular parachute displays each year at public events worldwide and also help to raise over £100,000 for charity each year by carrying out Tandem Skydives with members of the public.