University of Manchester and Diamond Light Source to Produce Unique Imaging Facility
Due for completion in 2012, the X-ray Imaging and Coherence beamline at Diamond, I13, is designed for a broad range of scientific users from biomedicine, materials science, geophysics, astrophysics and archaeology.
Its two branch lines - called the ‘imaging' and ‘coherence' branches - will provide tools for non-destructive examination of internal features ranging from the micro (a few thousandths of a millimetre) to the nano (a few millionths of a millimetre) length scale.
Diamond has entered into a seven-year collaboration with The University of Manchester to develop the imaging branch line, working together to discover, explore and exploit new science using synchrotron light.
Professor Phil Withers is leading the X-ray Imaging at the University and is a longstanding synchrotron user. He said: "The late Professor Alan Gilbert [the inaugural President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester] visited Diamond and was struck by the world-class standard of the facility, and he was keen for Manchester to be directly involved.
"With our own dedicated imaging suite at Manchester, the Henry Moseley X-ray Imaging Facility, which was officially opened in June last year, Manchester was looking to expand its imaging capabilities and the partnership with Diamond provided the perfect opportunity."
The 3D X-ray tomography that will be performed on I13 has many applications. It can be used to characterise the internal structure of porous materials such as trabecular bone or metal foams, or to determine the size and shape of cracks and other defects inside components such as aircraft parts, where unexpected failures could have catastrophic results.
The funding from Manchester includes capital, staff and operational costs towards the I13 imaging branch beamline in return for substantial dedicated access.
The staff financed through this collaboration will accelerate the completion of the I13 imaging branch and ensure its operation for the next seven years. The effort is further supported by a team from The University of Manchester, situated on site to drive forward the research.
The experimental hutches for I13 are currently under construction but the optics hutches are already receiving X-rays from the synchrotron ready for testing.
I13 is part of the second phase of construction at Diamond which is due to be complete in 2012. Funding for Phase III, the design and construction of a further ten beamlines, was announced by the government in October this year and will bring the total number of experimental stations to 32 when complete in 2017, enhancing the capabilities of the Diamond synchrotron science facility.