One of the world's brightest lights celebrates 30th birthday

27 November 2018

One of the UK’s key international research facilities, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), is celebrating its 30th anniversary today.

In 1988, scientists from the UK and 10 other countries joined together to create the first third-generation synchrotron light source. Now, ESRF hosts about 10,000 scientific visits per year with users from 50 different countries. This facility produces very intense X-rays capable of penetrating material and revealing the inner structure of matter down to the level of atoms and molecules.

STFC manages the UK subscription to the facility, based in Grenoble, France, as one of its 22 partner countries. Thanks to this subscription, hundreds of users from the UK make use of the ESRF, the world’s most intense X-ray source, every year.

STFC’s Executive Director of Programmes Professor Grahame Blair is the UK Head of Delegation to the ESRF. He said: “It is a great honour for the UK to be a part of this world-leading international science collaboration.

“ESRF has enjoyed 30 years of frontier science addressing some of Nature's most complex and pressing questions, involving scientists and engineers from all over the world. STFC and the UK has enjoyed its share of success, giving our physicists and engineers access to the beam-lines to perform their experiments and to engage actively in the scientific strategy of the facility, while also enabling UK industry to bid for contracts and UK nationals to compete for jobs and research positions at ESRF.”

Institutions in the UK have visited ESRF to carry out ground-breaking research in a range of scientific disciplines, from astrophysics to chemistry.

Researchers from University College London studied making lithium ion batteries safer, and a team from Queen Mary University of London looked at how collagen behaves in sea cucumber – a process which could have significant medical implications.

In addition, a team of scientists from Imperial College London used the ESRF’s brilliant X-ray light to reconstruct the conditions that led to the creation of the planets, in a bid to understand how planetary systems formed from space dust.

Find out more on the ESRF website.

Last updated: 27 November 2018

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