It has been just over a year since I joined Diamond and took over the leadership of the organisation and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Some of the highlights include meeting staff at all levels, who never cease to impress me with their enthusiasm and dedication, and the appreciation shown by our user community. It has also been fascinating to engage with my colleagues and users in the development of a new 10 year vision for the organisation.
Diamond is a flagship institute on the Harwell campus and we play a central part in the developments planned for the site. We have a role, alongside the other organisations present, to make Harwell a dynamic place to work, train, and study so that we create a well coordinated hub of knowledge and skills. Our challenge over the next 10 years will be to continue to grow in strength as a world-leading facility delivering science of the highest quality through our beamlines; we will also look to remain a catalyst for collaborations internationally amongst the international synchrotron community. This will mean anticipating and adapting scientifically, technically, and culturally to the ever-changing world around us. Collaborations at all levels – academia, funding agencies, and industry – will be key in this. This requires foresight, good planning, and adequate funding in order to continue our leadership; and to attract and retain talent so that the best science is undertaken within our walls.
Some of the key technical developments envisaged in the next few years include the following:
Many of these technical developments will lead to yet more prodigious amounts of data so it is imperative to also develop more effective ways to handle data quickly, reliably, and flexibly, and to do so with other organisations which are also facing the challenge of ‘Big Data’.
The role of our advisory bodies – Diamond Industrial Science Committee (DISCo), Science Advisory Committee (SAC), and Diamond User Committee (DUC) – will be crucial in helping to shape our future. We look forward to engaging with them in more depth about our priorities and the direction required to ensure Diamond’s performance is continually improved.
A leading measure of the success of Diamond is the number of published papers in peer-reviewed journals per annum. We are now approaching a total of 4,000 since operations began in 2007 and this number is rising steeply as new beamlines come online. The total number of protein structures deposited in the World Protein Data Bank now stands close to 2,660 and the number deposited in calendar year 2014 put Diamond in the top three synchrotron contributors in the world.
The past financial year has seen a total of 4,988 individual on site user visits, plus a further 2,708 individual remote user visits, where samples are submitted by courier. All of this was made possible by a very stable beam, even though a major failure of an RF cavity occurred in 2014 that led to significant downtime. This situation could have led to more serious repercussions if Diamond had not already started to put in place backup modules as part of a longer-term plan to safeguard the reliability of the beam. The total percentage of ‘up’ time of the beam in 2014 was 97.6% of scheduled time, with a mean time between failures of 38.6 hrs. The latter is lower than in 2013 because the replacement RF module had to be bedded in; however we now anticipate a performance of at least previous levels in 2015.
In the next 12 months, we will be completing the strategy work and associated engagement with staff and users. I am eager to ensure that Diamond is well represented at the next Comprehensive Spending Review so that we ensure that we maintain and consolidate our leading position, as this is critical to our future. It is essential that Government continues its commitment to science and technology to ensure that academia, the charity research sector, and industry continue to have access to the best R&D tools – this will mitigate the risk of divestment and delocalisation of the our industry research portfolio, which is critical to the long-term growth of our economy.
As a leading synchrotron light source, Diamond is in a great position to inspire the public about the tremendous power of light to illuminate atomic and molecular details of the world around us. We are also perfectly poised to provide answers to some of the most challenging questions faced by our society: in healthcare, the environment, the manufacturing of new materials for cleaner, more energy efficient devices, and for electronics for computation and communication. Our breadth is our strength and we continue to widely disseminate our impact so that it is appreciated not only by our funders, but also UK taxpayers at large.
Diamond has underpinned publicity for the 2015 International Year of Light by creating a web platform www.light2015.org on behalf of the worldwide network of synchrotron light sources, and by participating in the delivery of a wide range of outreach programmes; but more on this in our next annual review!
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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