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Durham supplying key equipment for Diamond project

Date 17 Sep 2006
Author The Editor

Durham University scientists are making a vital piece of equipment for the UK's largest science project for 30 years.A soft X-ray diffractometer supplied by the university will be an essential component of the new Diamond research complex, that will enable scientists to examine and test materials at a super-microscopic level - down to their basic atoms and particles. The process allows scientists to see the complex behaviour of electrons in solids and is important in developing new high-density memory devices for computers, new magnetic materials and sensors. Professor Peter Hatton and colleagues in the Physics Department at Durham have been awarded £900,000 for the project.Prof Hatton said: "Durham scientists are playing a leading role in the design and construction, and will ultimately be users, of Diamond - a vast new national facility. Diamond is a synchrotron: a particle accelerator that will produce X-rays a 100 billion times brighter than hospital X-ray machines. These beams will allow us to look deep into the basic structure of matter and materials. "The Diamond complex, which has been built in South Oxfordshire, is a 235m diameter doughnut-shaped building, covering the area of 5 football pitches. It is specially designed to be ultra-stable to prevent any vibration that could disturb the extremely fine beams of electrons that will be accelerated around its ring system. Equipment, including the Durham diffractometer, is being installed in stages. The complex will house up to 40 locations for setting up experiments as part of research in life, physical and environmental sciences. Diamond is funded by the government and the Wellcome Trust is due to open later this year at a total cost of about £300m. 

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