On Friday (16 September), we learned that our friend and colleague Professor Tom Marsh was reported as missing from La Silla Observatory in Chile where he had been working as a visiting astronomer at the ESO (European Southern Observatory).
A community updateLink opens in a new window is available from the Provost, Chris Ennew.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the operation of the UK’s XMaS (X-ray Materials Scattering) user facility at the European Synchrotron Research Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble. It has been directed for all that time from Warwick and Liverpool University 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.
XMaS came about when the first of the world’s ultra-bright synchrotrons was being designed and built in Grenoble, France in the early nineties. The ESRF’s bending magnets were originally designed to simply steer the electron beam around the synchrotron ring between the newly developed insertion devices. It was soon realised that they were a potent source of synchrotron radiation which could exploited as new beamlines if funded by national groups. The UK took advantage, with Malcolm Cooper, here at Warwick, and Bill Stirling, first at Keele and then Liverpool, asked to devise a plan and to bid for EPSRC funds. Needless to say the first back-of-the-envelope designs were, with hindsight, rather naive and embarrassingly under-costed but detailed design work by our small project team generated a viable blueprint, which has since stood the test of time.
When it opened for users in the autumn of 1997 it was never, in our wildest dreams, envisaged that it might be still operational 25 years later. Of course XMaS has undergone a continuous programme of improvement and upgrades over the years with including developing sophisticated sample environments and advances in x-ray metrology. A major refurbishment was necessitated by the recent comprehensive upgrade of the ESRF and as a consequence we now have what is virtually a new beamline and fit for purpose for many years to come.
Initially the science case for the beamline was devoted for the study of magnetic materials, very much in vogue in the 1990s. In fact the acronym XMaS stood for X-ray Magnetic Scattering but the facility has since evolved to encompass a broader materials programme (polymers, liquid crystals, catalysts, etc.) using a variety of techniques (spectroscopies, wide and small angle scattering etc.). The facility has four permanent staff and two postdocs on site, who carry out their own research as well as help the visiting research groups run a very diverse range of experiments. Following the retirement of Malcolm Cooper in 2010, XMaS has been led from Warwick by Tom Hase with admin support from Sarah Jarratt.
The Physics department will be hosting an event at the Warwick La Palma Observatory facilities today, bringing together key Warwick staff, delegations from the Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), and the observatory host institution, the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC). The visit will showcase the Warwick facilities and further develop the unique opportunities provided by our instrumentation platform at one of the best observing sites in the world, with a particular focus on the topical area of Space Domain Awareness, an emerging activity at Warwick.
After a successful week at the National Astronomy Meeting hosting over 800 astronomers and more than a thousand members of the public, we speak to some of our Local Organising Committee (LOC) who reflect on the past week.
The 2022 Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting (NAM) will be hosted by the University of Warwick's Physics Department from Monday 11th July to Friday 15th July. Alongside the incredible science programme planned for attendees, the team have also organised an extensive public engagement programme on campus which is mostly free and completely open to the public.
Professor Steven Brown has commented in Chemistry World on the announcement of funding of more than £16 million from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) for a state-of-the-art 1.2 GHz spectrometer, building on the two 1 GHz systems that are already in place in the UK, including at the UK High-Field Solid-State NMR Facility.
Find out more in Chemistry World.