The new Diamond Light Source synchrotron was the star of the show at the prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering Soirée in Didcot last night (26 June). More than 150 distinguished guests including His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, the Academy’s Royal Fellow, attended the dinner at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

The Diamond Light Source is the largest UK-funded scientific facility to be built for over 40 years and the brightest medium-energy source in the world. The synchrotron has applications in virtually all fields of science. Recent users have studied problems as diverse as the structure of crucial protein in tuberculosis, to the effects of sunlight on pigments used in Turner's watercolours. Diamond has a wide range of engineering applications; from corrosion mapping to studying large components in incredible detail. Precision engineering to incredibly high specifications played a vital role in Diamond's construction, from ensuring the stability of the synchrotron and monitoring the position and alignment of the beam itself, to the challenges of powering and safely operating such a complex facility.

The exhibit also showcased the work of one of Diamond's artists in residence, Paula Groves, who has been working closely with engineers on site to develop sculptural pieces created with metal taken from the Diamond site.

Also on show was the ISIS neutron scattering facility, recently doubled in size with a second neutron source. The £140 million Second Target Station generated its first neutrons this month.

Professor Keith Mason, STFC Chief Executive, said “To successfully transfer innovative technology from conception through to commercial application is notoriously difficult. This exhibition demonstrates how our extensive range of engineering activities in Oxfordshire and the UK have contributed to innovation and wealth creation, through the use of technology transfer to develop novel, commercially successful products and processes.”

Senior Vice President of the Royal Academy of Engineering Wendy Hall said “The Academy’s partnership with the Science and Facilities Council will, I hope, go from strength to strength in future as we pursue a shared vision to promote a greater awareness of the role of science and engineering in today’s society and in shaping our daily lives.  One of the key aims of the Academy is to move engineering from the periphery to the centre of society and to show the importance of engineering and science skills to the economy and for the long term well-being of society.”

Notes for editors

  1. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.
  2. The Science and Technology Facilities Council is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS). STFC was formed by Royal Charter in 2007 upon the merger of the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils (CCLRC) and the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) and the transfer of responsibility for nuclear physics from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The STFC is one of seven national research councils in the UK.
  3. For more information about Diamond, see
  4. Diamond generates extremely intense pin-point beams of synchrotron light of exceptional quality ranging from x-rays, ultra-violet and infrared. For example Diamond’s x-rays are around 100 billion times brighter than a standard hospital X-ray machine or 10 billion times brighter than the sun. Many of our everyday commodities that we take for granted, from food manufacturing to cosmetics, from revolutionary drugs to surgical tools, from computers to mobile phones, have all been developed or improved using synchrotron light.

    Diamond will bring benefits to:
  • Biology and medicine. For example, the fight against illnesses such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, osteoporosis and many cancers will benefit from the new research techniques available at Diamond.
  • The physical and chemical sciences. For example, in the near future, engineers will be able to image their structure down to an atomic scale, helping them to understand the way impurities and defects behave and how they can be controlled.
  • The Environmental and Earth sciences. For example, Diamond will help researchers to identify organisms that target specific types of contaminant in the environment which can potentially lead to identifying cheap and effective ways for cleaning polluted land.

For more information please contact

For more information please contact: Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0636