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Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

Harwell Campus

Aerial view of Harwell Campus
(Credit: STFC)

Scientists at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) come to work every day because they want answers to some of science’s biggest questions. How big a computer system do you need to analyse the weather? How do we solve the world’s antibiotics crisis or how do we keep our future energy supplies going?

RAL’s pioneering work in areas such as particle physics, scientific computing, laser development, space research, and technology addresses some of the important challenges facing society.

A laboratory has existed on the Chilton site since 1957. Rutherford Appleton Laboratory is named after the physicists Ernest Rutherford and Edward Appleton. Today, approximately 1200 staff work on site.

RAL is located on the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, and is funded and managed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). RAL is one of six sites in the UK operated by STFC which is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

UKRI brings together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England. It aims to maximise the contribution of each component part, working individually and collectively and works with many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.

RAL offers a range of diverse training schemes including engineering apprenticeships and summer student placements. These schemes help attract young people into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), which is vital for the future of the UK economy.

How to find us

How to get to Rutherford Appleton Laboratory

Our facilities

Some of our major scientific facilities onsite, and on the wider Harwell Campus, include:

(Credit: STFC)

Central Laser Facility is one of the world's leading laser facilities, its high power lasers can recreate the conditions inside stars while its small, compact lasers have medical, security and environmental applications.

(Credit: STFC)

ISIS neutron and muon source is a world-leading centre for research in the physical and life sciences, our suite of neutron and muon instruments give unique insights into the properties of materials on the atomic scale. ISIS supports a national and international community of more than 2000 scientists .The facility has published around 12,000 papers during its lifetime - making it one of the most productive facilities of its type in the world.

(Credit: STFC)

RAL Space carries out world-class science research and technology development with involvement in more than 210 spacecraft. Working throughout the lifecycle of space missions, RAL Space lead concept studies for future missions, design and build instruments, provide space test and ground-based facilities, operate ground-stations and process and analyse data.

(Credit: STFC)

Diamond Light Source Ltd is the UK national synchrotron radiation facility which generates brilliant beams of light from infrared to X-rays. These highly focused beams of light enable scientists and engineers to probe deep into the basic structure of matter and materials, answering fundamental questions about everything from the building blocks of life to the origin of our planet.

(Credit: STFC)

The Satellite Applications Catapult is one of ten UK network technology and innovation centres that helps organisations make use of, and benefit from, satellite technologies, and bring together multi-disciplinary teams to generate ideas and solutions in an open innovation environment. This Catapult has incorporated the activities of the International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC) into its programme.

(Credit: STFC)

Scientific Computing Department (SCD) manages high performance computing facilities, services and infrastructure, supporting some of UK's most advanced scientific facilities. Our staff provide the computational expertise, services and products that help the scientific community to make vital discoveries and deliver progress. We are leaders in the advancement and support of scientific computing, carrying out research and development to gather and interpret results quickly and clearly. Whether it’s creating new computational science software, helping to visualise complex scientific results, or developing the infrastructure that allows us to process huge amounts of data, R&D from SCD is driving improvements across the scientific research landscape.

(Credit: STFC)

Technology underpins some of the world’s leading science experiments. Our technology ranges from the very small - micro-nano-engineering, to the very large - major engineering structures.The experiments on the Large Hadron Collider depend on key components delivered by us. We have provided key technologies for some of the world’s best telescopes. Our technologies and competencies are world class, and the calibre and expertise of our staff, and our project and quality management expertise, enables us to deliver unique and advanced high performance engineering projects.

Last updated: 21 April 2021


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