|Headquarters||Chilton, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom|
|Leader||Professor Andrew Harrison|
Diamond Light Source (or Diamond) is the UK's national synchrotron light source science facility located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire. Its purpose is to produce intense beams of light whose special characteristics are useful in many areas of scientific research. In particular it can be used to investigate the structure and properties of a wide range of materials from proteins (to provide information for designing new and better drugs), and engineering components (such as a fan blade from an aero-engine) to conservation of archeological artifacts (for example Henry VIII's flagship the Mary Rose).
There are more than 50 light sources across the world. With an energy of 3 GeV, Diamond is a medium energy synchrotron currently operating with 32 beamlines.
The Diamond synchrotron is the largest UK-funded scientific facility to be built in the UK since the Nimrod proton synchrotron which was sited at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in 1964. Nearby facilities include the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, the Central Laser Facility, and the laboratories at Harwell and Culham (including the Joint European Torus (JET) project). It replaced the second-generation synchrotron which was at the Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire.
A design study during the 1990s was completed in 2001 by scientists at Daresbury and construction began following the creation of the operating company, Diamond Light Source Ltd.
The construction costs of £260m covered the synchrotron building, the accelerators inside it, the first seven experimental stations (beamlines) and the adjacent office block, Diamond House.
The facility is operated by Diamond Light Source Ltd, a joint venture company established in March 2002. The company receives 86% of its funding from the UK Government via the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and 14% from the Wellcome Trust.
Diamond generates synchrotron light at wavelengths ranging from X-rays to the far infrared. This is also known as synchrotron radiation and is the electromagnetic radiation emitted by charged particles travelling near the speed of light when their path deviates from a straight line. It is used in a huge variety of experiments to study the structure and behaviour of many different types of matter.
The particles Diamond uses are electrons travelling at an energy of 3 GeV round a 561.6 m circumference storage ring. This is not a true circle, but a 48-sided polygon with a bending magnet at each vertex and straight sections in between. The bending magnets are dipole magnets whose magnetic field deflects the electrons so as to steer them around the ring. As Diamond is a third generation light source[further explanation needed] it also uses special arrays of magnets called insertion devices. These cause the electrons to undulate and it is their sudden change of direction that causes the electrons to emit an exceptionally bright beam of electromagnetic radiation, brighter than that of a single bend when traveling through a bending magnet. This is the synchrotron light used for experiments. Some beamlines, however, use light solely from a bending magnet without the need of an insertion device.
The electrons reach this high energy via a series of pre-accelerator stages before being injected into the 3 GeV storage ring:
The Diamond synchrotron is housed in a silver toroidal building of 738 m in circumference, covering an area in excess of 43,300 square metres, or the area of over six football pitches. This contains the storage ring and a number of beamlines, with the linear accelerator and booster synchrotron housed in the centre of the ring. These beamlines are the experimental stations where the synchrotron light's interaction with matter is used for research purposes. Seven beamlines were available when Diamond became operational in 2007, with more coming online as construction continued. As of April 2019 there were 32 beamlines in operation. Diamond is intended ultimately to host about 33 beamlines, supporting the life, physical and environmental sciences.
Diamond is also home to eleven electron microscopes. Nine of these are cryo-electron microscopes specialising in life sciences including two provided for industry use in partnership with Thermo Fisher Scientific; the remaining two microscopes are dedicated to research of advanced materials.