Diamond studies…on diamond


We’ve just received a press release letting us know that the Diamond Light Source (‘the UK’s world-class synchrotron facility’) has just had its first users on its new test beamline (B16 for all you big facility junkies out there!). This is only the 8th of the 40 planned beamlines.

The lucky scientists are from Royal Holloway, University of London, and they’re developing high-res XRD techniques to map crystal imperfections. Moreton Moore (who Google reveals is also a Councillor on Runymede Borough Council) has spent a large part of his career studying…diamonds. Not just a girl’s best friend, industrial diamonds can contain tiny inclusions of metal that could cause failure. So being able to separate out the elements within the metal using the hard X-rays from Diamond could lead to better industrial diamonds.

The new test beamline’s job is to allow researchers (academic and industrial) to test their optical components. Kawal Sawhney, Principal Beamline Scientist, said ‘It enables us to push our capabilities and advance the technology that is available to users, without interrupting the schedule of the other beamlines, ultimately resulting in better, cutting-edge science.’

Having used the neutron source at ISIS (on GEM and HRPD) and the old synchrotron source at Daresbury (9.1) in my PhD, I tend to get a bit green-eyed over this sparkling new facility. Daresbury especially was a source of mild dread to us all, probably because of the prospect of running an experiment over 48 hours, in which you need to change the image plate every 20 minutes. This required two of us to stay up until 4am before the other two team members took over. The unfortunate thing is that the furnace broke at around 9am, thus slightly ruining everything. That’s to say nothing of the rubber bands and sticky tape that seemed to be holding everything together – or the infamous canteen!


Neil Withers (Associate Editor, Nature Chemistry)

Please sign in or register for FREE

If you are a registered user on Nature Portfolio Chemistry Community, please sign in