- Prof Andrew Harrison CEO Diamond Light Source
2017 marked a double anniversary for Diamond: our 15th anniversary as a company and 10 years of research and innovation. This was marked by the official visit of HRH the Princess Royal last February - a tremendous accolade for everyone involved with Diamond.
Our facility is currently completing its final beamlines, which will see us close Phase III construction in 2019. We now have 31 operational beamlines which are delivering an increasing number of high-impact publications. This review presents some of the highlights of this science, illustrating both new insights we are providing in fundamental science, and the positive impact for the economy and society at large in partnership with our user community.
With over 9,000 user visits, a machine up time of 98.2%, and exceptionally dedicated staff supporting every aspect of our activities, our offer to the science community is second to none. All of this underpins outputs that grow from year to year, most readily illustrated by the number of peer-reviewed publications, numbering 6,825 in 2017 with 41% of the output linked to the life sciences. This is the result of our creating an integrated offer for our structural biology community, which is unique in the world. We now have six microscopes dedicated to the life sciences running seven days a week each delivering 220 days of science per year. We are becoming a one-stop shop to understand the origins of diseases at a molecular or cellular level and to both discover and develop drugs to treat them. The physical sciences are blooming too, from multiprobe and operando studies of catalysts to new emerging technologies for ICT such as multiferroics, where electrical and magnetic functionality are coupled, so changing one can switch the other. As you will read in our Materials and Magnetism section, researchers from across the globe have used our I06 beamline to visualise this phenomenon and as the basis for new multifunctional devices that work well at room temperature, are opening up new avenues for creating new electronic storage devices.
Engaging with industry is also an essential part of our mission and the past year has seen a record income from proprietorial access. An increasingly important part of this is the new embedded facilities for electron microscopy for both life and physical sciences at eBIC and ePSIC, respectively. Diamond also provides crucial facilities for metrology, illustrated recently by work performed by FMB Oxford to test the performance of their manufactured components.
As taxpayers essentially fund 86% of the facility, we have kept our commitment to engage with the public. We offer regular open days and work with the media to communicate and create greater awareness of the ground-breaking science achieved here. With 5,635 visitors in the past year alone, of which 3,121 were school students and members of the public, we are continually making sure we present strong and diverse role models across all disciplines. We want to inspire as many youngsters as possible by the work we do and persuade as many of them as possible to choose STEM subjects as the path to their future careers. If we are to continue to enable world-leading science and innovation, we must ensure that Diamond continues to offer the very best technical facilities, from the machine, through the beamlines to rapid and effective methods of data analysis. In recognition of this, our stakeholders – STFC and the Wellcome Trust – will increase our capital budget from 2019 to support an ambitious programme of rolling upgrades. We prioritised these upgrades in close consultation with our advisory bodies for academia and industry, as well as reflecting on the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy, which presented grand challenges to which we can strongly contribute - clean growth, mobility and an ageing society. Our own plans also resonate with wider developments across the Harwell Campus – in particular the Rosalind Franklin Institute to develop enabling technology for medicine and the Faraday Institution for battery research – in which we are to be key partners. In the longer term, we plan a wholesale upgrade of machine itself – Diamond-II – in parallel with machine upgrades at synchrotrons around the world. This will offer an increase in brilliance, coherence and capacity that will offer wholly new scientific opportunities and maintain our competitive edge.
However, such developments should be carried out in partnership with other synchrotrons, which share the same technical challenges and aim to solve similar scientific problems. To this end, Diamond has played an active role in founding the League of Accelerator-based Photon Science (LEAPS), which brings together 16 organisations across Europe representing all 19 European synchrotrons and free electron laser facilities. As Brexit approaches in March 2019, it will be critical to ensure the UK remains a key element of this network and we continue to benefit from the international cooperation and exchange with our strongest international partners that enable us to tackle together some of the key scientific and societal challenges of our time.
Prof Andrew Harrison
CEO Diamond Light Source