Synchrotron science and cultural heritage

 
Diamond's CEO, Andrew Harrison at the facility
 
On 25 November 2015 at 15.00 in the Atrium of the General Staff Building Professor Andrew Harrison, CEO Diamond Light Source, will give a lecture entitled «Synchrotrons: lighting up the past. How 21st century technology is illuminating our cultural heritage». The event is organised by The State Hermitage Museum, UK Science and Innovation Network in Russia (SIN Russia) and British Consulate-General in St. Petersburg.
 
At the lecture Professor Harrison will speak about unique capabilities of accelerators called synchrotrons, which act like giant microscopes. The advanced super-sensitive technology of such accelerators allows the investigation of both both organic and non-organic subject matter, including works of art and archaeological artefacts, layer-by-layer without destroying them. This opens up a whole range of opportunities for collaboration with conservators and museums to preserve cultural and historical heritage.
 
Professor Andrew Harrison graduated from the University of Oxford, majoring in chemistry. He was previously Director General of the ‘Institut Laue-Langevin’ neutron source in Grenoble, France, where he worked since 2006. Professor Harrison is Professor of Solid State Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh and founding director of their Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions. Professor Harrison is a member of the Advisory Committee for Neutron Research of the National Research Centre «Kurchatov Institute». Since 2013 Professor Harrison has been CEO of the UK’s synchrotron Diamond Light Source
 
Diamond Light Source (Oxfordshire, UK) was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II in 2007. It is the world’s largest medium energy synchrotron science facility. The machine speeds up electrons to near light speeds so that they give off a light 10 billion times brighter than the sun, which makes it possible to examine complex micro-systems and structures and carry out fundamental and applied research across a range of scientific disciplines: from structural biology to chemistry, physics and materials science. Diamond Light Source currently has 25 laboratories, known as ‘beamlines’, in which diffraction, spectroscopy and imaging as well as other techniques are used to examine molecular and atomic structure of materials.
 
At Diamond Light Source a multitude of objects are being explored – from dinosaur bones to archaeological artefacts. Conservation scientists from all over the world also examine the effectiveness of existing as well as best new substances used to help preserve historic buildings and relics. The Dead Sea Scrolls were examined here. The conservation of Henry VIII flagship Mary Rose has been one of the most well-known projects. The vessel sank almost 500 years ago and was lifted to the surface in 1982. Equipped with cutting-edge methods, scientists were able to examine the wooden elements of the vessel and determine the degree of damage, which helped identify the best conservation methods for this unique battleship. In his lecture Professor Harrison will speak about a number of museum projects, as well as advanced technologies used at Diamond Light Source.