The CLF, ISIS and Diamond Light Source

Multidisciplinary facilities and expertise provide unique capabilities across a range of research fields

Our national facilities, the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source (ISIS), the Central Laser Facility (CLF) and Diamond Light Source (Diamond) are the powerful ‘microscopes’ of the 21st century, imaging and pulsing matter to obtain unique insights.

The technologies that these three centres have developed have led to the creation of a number of successful spin-out companies. For example, Cobalt Light Systems, now part of Agilent, harnessed a method invented at the CLF for identifying the chemical composition of matter underneath surfaces such as the skin or contained in bottles. Cobalt’s products targeted security applications, including the identification of hazardous materials, explosives and narcotics. 

ISIS helped INEOS ChlorVinyls, Europe’s largest manufacturer of chemicals, to eliminate undesirable by-products from its manufacturing process. This led to improvements in materials such as PVC which are important components of many everyday products.

Diamond has contributed to a diverse range of business solutions, collaborating with Unilever and the University of Manchester to understand the microstructure of ice cream, and with Rolls-Royce to examine advanced engineering materials that will improve the durability of aircraft engines. 

Research supported by the facilities delivers economic and societal benefits in areas such as the environment, renewable energy and healthcare. Laser beams at the CLF are helping scientists gain an insight into climate change – specifically the pollutants produced by burning fossil fuels which can affect formation and growth of water droplets in clouds. They are also vital tools for medical research assisting the development of better cancer treatments for example. 

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