Science and Technology Facilities Council
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UK confirmed as founding member of world's largest microscope

The UK has cemented its leading role in designing and delivering the world’s largest microscope, the European Spallation Source (ESS), by being confirmed as a founder member of the project.

Once complete, the ESS will support research teams, including many from the UK, in addressing significant global challenges that range from healthcare and security to ecology and fuel technology.

STFC is managing the UK contribution to the ESS, which includes design expertise and  in-kind contributions to construction, and the project will offer incredible opportunities for UK researchers in the future.

Dr Andrew Taylor, STFC’s Executive Director of the National Laboratories said: “This milestone reinforces the wide respect for UK neutron science community across Europe and the instrumental role it plays in developing world-leading facilities. STFC has already made a substantial contribution to the ongoing success of this international project through our engineering and design expertise and we will continue to play a leading role over the coming years.

“The ESS will provide new opportunities for researchers in a broad range of scientific areas including life sciences, energy, environmental technology, cultural heritage and fundamental physics.”

The UK’s founding member status was confirmed by ESS Council in Malmo, Sweden on 9 June. The UK shares equal status in the project as founding members alongside the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland.

As the world’s next-generation neutron source the ESS is currently under construction in Lund, Sweden, and will be an accelerator-based facility producing neutrons for a large array of advanced instruments once it is operational in 2025. The UK is already playing a crucial role in the building of the ESS and this latest decision cements the importance of the UK to the project through the expertise of its scientists and engineers and its impressive neutron science experience.

As an ESS Founder country, the UK will continue its commitment to the construction of this neutron-based particle accelerator.

STFC has more than 30 years’ expertise and experience in the construction of spallation instrumentation through operating the UK’s ISIS neutron and muon beam research facility.  This facility is taking the lead in designing and delivering two key instruments, LoKI and FREIA, that will eventually be part of the ESS.  The UK, through STFC’s Accelerator Science and Technology Centre (ASTeC), has also recently delivered new state of the art vacuum test facilities to ESS.

Notes to Editors

For facts, images and illustrations, please visit the European Spallation Source website.

Media contact:

STFC Media Manager
Jake Gilmore
Tel: +44 (0)1793 44 2092
Mobile: +44 (0)7970 99 4586


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