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UK Accelerators Get Boost

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LONDON, Oct. 13 -- Two particle accelerators that will help UK scientists pursue breakthroughs in areas such as medical research, super-fast computers and clean energy technology received a £147.5-million (about $264.63 million) boost this week in funding from the UK government, the Wellcome Trust medical charity and five of the Research Councils, the agencies that publicly fund British science.

Both of the gigantic and complex machines -- ISIS and Diamond Light Source -- are particle accelerators that produce light beams and particles of exceptional energy. The new funding covers phase II of Diamond Light Source and is made up of £103.4 million in government funding and £16.8 million from the Wellcome Trust. It also includes £27.5 million to increase capacity at ISIS for new hi-tech instruments for the second target station.

Diamond Light Source is a synchotron that can be compared to an extremely powerful microscope. The first section of Diamond machine tunnel was officially opened last week at the Harwell/Chilton Science Campus, a national science and technology center in Oxfordshire, in southern England. Expected to open in 2007, the facility -- which will be the size of five football fields -- will provide infrared, ultraviolet and x-rays beams of exceptional quality and a thousand times brighter than a hospital x-ray tube. These beams will enable scientists and engineers to delve deep into the basic structure of matter and materials, leading to potential breakthroughs in the fields of biotechnology, medicine, environmental and materials science, according to the UK Department of Trade and Industry.

ISIS, a neutron spallation facility that opened in 1985 at the UK Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, near Oxford, fires an accelerated proton beam at a special target that generates (by spallation) a beam of neutrons, which are then diverted to various instruments to probe matter. In 2003, ISIS was awarded £100 million to develop a new experimental wing, one of the largest awards of government funding for a single science project.

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Oct 2004
acceleratorsBasic ScienceDiamond Light SourceHarwell/Chilton Science CampusISISMicroscopyNews & FeaturesRutherford Appleton Laboratorysynchotron

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