On the 12th January 2016 our physics students visited Diamond Light Source in Didcot, Oxfordshire. Diamond is the UK’s dedicated synchrotron radiation source and has been in action since 2007. By accelerating high energy (3GeV) electrons around a 560m storage ring, extremely bright light known as synchrotron radiation is produced. This light, which can span X-rays to the far infra-red, enables scientists to look at the structure of a huge variety of samples over a range of scales; from ancient artefacts to state of the art materials; and from viruses to meteorites!
The national facility has over 20 separate beamlines enabling physicists, chemists, biologists and engineers from all over the UK to perform microscopy, spectroscopy, diffraction pattern analysis and scattering experiments.
The day started with a lecture about the inner workings of the facility, including the linear accelerator and storage ring, as well as highlighting the countless applications for which instrument time at Diamond has been of tremendous benefit to researchers.
After lunch the students were given a tour of the facilities. It was great to get up close to such a fantastic feat of science and engineering and our students were able to ask many questions about the physics behind the operation.