Meet Diamond’s new Physical Sciences Director

Introducing Professor Laurent Chapon

Diamond recently appointed a new Physical Sciences Director, Professor Laurent Chapon: an expert in materials science as well as X-ray and neutron diffraction techniques.
Prof Chapon joins Diamond from the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) in Grenoble where he held the position of Senior Fellow and Diffraction Group Leader for over five years. He will be responsible for delivering and developing high-quality scientific resources for physical sciences. More than 3,000 scientists visit the facility every year, so he recognises his new role will be both challenging and rewarding.
Commenting on his appointment, Prof Chapon said: “I’m delighted to be moving to this exciting new opportunity at the helm of physical sciences at one of the world’s most widely-renowned science centres. I am looking forward to contributing to the astonishing work that Diamond delivers.
“Life sciences at Diamond have been hugely dynamic in facilitating pioneering science. My goal is to emulate that drive and vision for the facility’s physical sciences division. Capitalising on the strengths of the expert team here, I’m confident that we can support Diamond to achieve its full potential.”
Prof Chapon’s established record in big facility physical sciences makes him well-equipped to help realise Diamond’s vision to be a world-leading centre for synchrotron science and the cornerstone of a world-class site for scientific discovery and innovation at Harwell.
Diamond’s CEO, Andrew Harrison, said: “With more than 15 years of experience working for national laboratories, mostly in leadership roles, in which he made a real difference to the organisation, and with over 100 publications to his name, Laurent is very well placed to lead Diamond through the opportunities and challenges that we expect to encounter as a fully operational national facility.”
After achieving his PhD in materials science from the University of Montpellier, Prof Chapon took up consecutive post-doctoral positions at the Argonne National Laboratory in the USA, and the Hahn-Meitner Institut in Germany.
He knows Oxfordshire well, as from 2002, he worked on the Harwell Campus, first as an Instrument Scientist and then as Crystallographic and Engineering Group Leader for the ISIS Neutron Facility.
In 2011, Prof Chapon moved back to France to take up a Senior Fellow position with the ILL. Since 2013, he worked there as Diffraction Group Leader. In this position, he was responsible for leading and managing a large group of scientists and technicians, as well as overseeing a broad range of scientific projects, tools and instrumentation, and contributing to the overall strategy of the Institute. Throughout this time, he has also been a regular and highly productive user of Diamond, working on new materials and multiferroics; a type of material with the potential to support higher-performing technological devices.

Prof Chapon has provided facilities with considerable expertise in the provision of software, as a co-founder and sponsor of the Mantid Project, and as developer of more recent C++/python projects, including a package to refine magnetic structures obtained from magnetic X-ray scattering experiments, now in use at Diamond.