How Diamond is underpinning the UK’s industrial strategy

A year on from the formal launch of the UK’s Industrial Strategy, Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron, has undertaken many activities which have been supporting the delivery of the Industrial Strategy. Here we explain how Diamond is an agent of change for 21st century global challenges.

A diagram of the beamlines at Diamond

The UK Government’s Industrial Strategy1 highlights Grand Challenges to put the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future: to be a leader in the artificial intelligence and data revolution; to equip UK industry to be best prepared for clean growth; to be at the forefront world-wide in the mobility of people, goods and services; and to help meet the needs of an ageing society.

A year on from the formal launch of the UK’s Industrial Strategy, Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron, has done a round-up of activities which have been supporting its delivery and explains how we are an agent of change on the 21st century global challenges.

Already we have seen key investment like the Faraday Institution and the Rosalind Franklin Institute as part of the Industrial strategy current waves of allocations be located close to Diamond as we are a catalyst for the activities they are undertaking.

Diamond is enabling world-class science in universities and industry, both in the UK and internationally, which is advancing knowledge and underpinning innovation in virtually all fields of research. Now in its 11th year of operations, Diamond offers access to 32 instruments which it calls beamlines (Figure 1) and 5 complementary facilities – the Electron Bio-Imaging Centre (eBIC), the Electron Physical Science Imaging Centre (ePSIC), the MPL (Membrane Protein Lab), the XChem Fragment Screening service and the XFEL Hub, which develops technology for sample delivery and data analysis for Free Electron Lasers for life sciences.

Figure 2: Total number of proposals for beamtime access and user visits per year
Figure 2: Total number of proposals for beamtime access and user visits per year

The information that Diamond provides is essential in understanding and developing the properties, function or processing of materials, including biomaterials, for an immense range of science and technology, from drug design and catalysts, through to electronic devices and high-performance engineering alloys to heritage science. The work that Diamond supports has a direct impact on some of the key challenges for our society, for example healthcare, the environment, more efficient energy storage and transport.

Diamond has reached 9,500 user visits in the past financial year (Figure 2). It has directly supported proprietary work for over 130 companies, and about 40% of all delivered beamtime in FY2017/18 had direct or indirect industrial access through the peer-review access route.

Its output includes a rapidly rising number of peer-reviewed articles, to date 7,400 (Figure 3), and a rate of deposition of structures in the Protein Data Bank that places it as one of the most productive synchrotrons in the world, and the leader among medium energy synchrotrons. 

Figure 3: Cumulative number of publications by Diamond scientists and users, and cumulative number of structures deposited in the Protein Data Bank.
Figure 3: Cumulative number of publications by Diamond scientists and users, and cumulative number of structures deposited in the Protein Data Bank.

Such high throughput has been enabled by a remarkable level of robotic automation, matched with efficient data analysis pipelines in close-to-real time; both now being rolled out across an increasing number of physical and life sciences beamlines to optimise workflows.

Since the facility opened its doors in 2007, Diamond has welcomed over 12,000 direct users who have had an impact on a wider network of at least 24,500 researchers, positioning Diamond as one of the largest user bases among national facilities in Europe.

Diamond’s output is not just characterised by volume. The institutional h-index currently stands at 128 2, and a recent analysis showed that 25% of publications are found in journals with an impact factor of nine and above.

Spotlight on Industrial Strategy: How Diamond is helping the UK be the world’s most innovative economy…

In September 2018, an agreement was launched for a new cryo-EM capability for use in the life sciences industry sector by Thermo Fisher Scientific, one of the world leaders in high-end scientific instrumentation and Diamond Light Source.

This collaboration positions the UK as a global leader in providing large-scale industrial access to Cryo-EM for drug discovery. It is also creating a very real step change for life sciences sector, because it is a one-stop shop for structural biology and one of largest cryo-EM sites in the world embedded in a synchrotron with all its complementary facilities and techniues. This collaboration has confirmed Diamond as one of the leading global cryo-EM sites but in particular, one which provides the life sciences sector with an offer not available anywhere else in the world.

References

1 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/664563/industrial-strategy-white-paper-web-ready-version.pdf

2 Our h-index is the maximum value of h such that our user community and staff members have published apers that have each been cited at least h times; for example a h-index of 120 means that 120 Diamond papers have been cited at least 120 times.