Science and Technology Facilities Council
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Consultation process on the new Imaging Solutions Centre - Request for input

On the 14th July the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) announced a £397 million investment portfolio in new scientific infrastructure. This announcement included the earmarking of £24M for a new Imaging Solutions Centre to be built at the Rutherford Appleton laboratory, on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.

As part of the process of planning for the new Imaging Solutions Centre (ISC), the STFC now invites researchers in UK universities and industry to comment on the composition of this new Centre.

View the questions we would like responses to.

Harwell Science and Innovation Campus

The Imaging Solutions Centre is envisaged as a new user facility on the RAL-Harwell campus, which will provide new skills and imaging technology for the UK imaging community. The expected user base may include life scientists, materials scientists, engineers and medical scientists. The ambition is to provide new, world-class imaging capabilities, and enhanced access to the imaging capabilities provided by the existing large-scale facilities, such as the Diamond Light Source, the ISIS neutron facility and the Lasers for Science Facility.

The centre will incorporate new hardware and software which will augment that available at Universities and other Research Laboratories.

The centre will thus bring together:

  • Leading large-scale radiation sources (ISIS, Diamond Light Source, Lasers etc.)

  • Leading laboratory-scale imaging techniques

  • Advanced visualization & data interpretation software

  • Imaging R&D

  • Leading detector technology - in partnership with the STFC Detector Systems Centre

  • Computational modelling - in close collaboration with the STFC Hartree Centre

  • Imaging 'users' & imaging 'providers' to define a development path

The ISC has £24M of capital earmarked for its construction, and we are currently planning on a centre that will hold between 50 and 75 staff and visitors. Many of the visitors will be on a long-term basis; for example University groups that wish to be based at the centre.

It is envisaged that visitors (both long and short-term) will make up the majority of those working within the centre. The STFC is therefore particularly interested in hearing from research groups that would like to form a strategic alliance with the new centre, and contribute to its future success.

The ISC will therefore operate in a manner analogous to the nearby Research Complex - with which it will have close ties.

The Imaging Solutions Centre will focus on the real-space imaging of materials and components using photons (from X-ray to IR), neutrons and electrons. This encompasses both the structure of materials (including biological materials) and material properties (e.g. stress) that vary as a function of position within a sample or component.

Such techniques may be used to image a wide range of materials and components, over a range of length scales - from nanometres to millimetres. The potential subjects to be studied will include living cells, sub-cellular structures, advanced engineering materials, nano-materials, engineering components, fuel cells and semiconductors. The new Imaging Centre would therefore make a step change in the use of STFC's facilities by industry - while also enabling exciting new academic research to be pursued.

A strength of the centre would be its expertise in 'imaging algorithms', which would range from advanced graphics techniques (e.g. 3-d displays) through inversion techniques, to the ability to interpret evidence (using Bayesian methods - for example).

The development of the ISC is being led by the ISC project Management Board within STFC, and advised by the Imaging Solutions Centre Advisory Panel (ISCAP). The ISCAP has formed four consultation panels to ensure that advice is received from as wide a constituency as possible. The leaders of the four consultation panels are:

  • Life Sciences - Prof Maggie Dallman (Imperial College, London)
  • Materials - Prof Phil Withers (Manchester)
  • Electron Microscopy - Prof Dave Stuart (Oxford/Diamond Light Source)
  • Medicine - Prof Lefkos Middleton (Imperial College, London)



We seek answers to the following questions from a wide variety of UK based researchers. We will acknowledge all replies, and may seek clarification, or additional information from respondents.

  1. What organisation do you work for and what is your area of research?

  2. What skills would you like to see within the new ISC ? From your perspective, how could the ISC make most impact through the provision of a new imaging expertise?

  3. What equipment would you like to see within the new ISC ? This could be lab-based instrumentation, new computing hardware/software, or additions to the existing (or planned) imaging instruments on ISIS, Diamond or Lasers.

  4. What would your level of interaction be with the new centre? Would you expect to be an occasional user of its facilities and software? Or would you envisage basing some of your research programme on the Harwell Campus, and sharing some staff with the new centre?
Please suggest other researchers that we should contact to ensure the greatest success for this new opportunity.

Replies should be sent by email to

Page last updated: 03 February 2009 by Mike Johnson

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