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Project History

2022 marks the 25th anniversary of the operation of the UK’s XMaS (X-ray Materials Science) user facility at the European Synchrotron Research Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble.

It has been directed for all that time from University of Warwick and Liverpool Physics Departments and has provided hundreds of UK scientists (and many from further afield) with the opportunity to do leading research in a truly world-leading international centre.

1991–1994: The Early Days

In 1991, the investigators M.J. Cooper and W.G. Stirling first requested funds from the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) to design and build a bending magnet beamline at the ESRF for the use of a Collaboration Research Group (CRG) of UK scientists. The beamline was to be for “Magnetic and High Resolution Diffraction”. An 18-month design study was funded and begun in March 1992: the evolution of the design considerations are described in Paul et al. Rev. Sci. Instr. 66, 1741-5, (1995). After advice from a review panel chaired by Denis McWhan, the two mirror design, which would have maximized the wave-vector resolution attainable, was rejected in favour of simpler optics consisting of a water cooled constant exit double-crystal monochromator, followed by a toroidal mirror, which provided a focal spot (1:1 focussing) at the centre of a multi-axis diffractometer. Provision was also made for unfocussed monochromatic and white beam operation.