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25 years of X-ray Scattering at XMaS

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.


Mon 12 Sep 2022, 11:15 | Tags: Feature News, announcements, Research

A new ANImated MOLecular viewer has been released: AniMol is here

It's finally here, the new molecular viewer "AniMol" (ANImated MOLecules) is in beta for free public use. AniMol allows you to create interactive views of molecular structures or dynamics thereof and then gives a permanent link and QR code image for access from anywhere, including on mobile devices. For example, check out the #sarscov2 spike proteins' plausible opening/closing motion at or

AniMol was created by current Maths and Physics 3rd year student James Panayis working with recent Warwick Physics graduate James Partington and Prof. Rudo Roemer from theory group. Their work has been funded in part by a Warwick InnovationsLink opens in a new window "Impact Acceleration Account" fund.

Wed 20 Jul 2022, 13:52 | Tags: Undergraduates, Research

Learn more about Advancement and Innovation for Detectors at Accelerators (AIDAinnova) project

Dr John Marshall and Dr John Back are working as part of the AIDAinnova programme to further the development of the Pandora pattern-recognition software. They are developing algorithms to interpret highly-complex images of neutrino interactions in the detectors that will be deployed for the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, DUNE. Their software uses a careful blend of sophisticated clustering algorithms and machine-learning approaches.

The Pandora software aims to provide an automated approach to reconstruct what happened in neutrino interactions, and so help unlock the mysteries of neutrinos. One of the defining features of DUNE will be its cutting-edge detectors, and the role of pattern recognition and machine learning is becoming more important to interpret the detector outputs. Under the AIDAinnova programme, Dr Marshall and Dr Back are adapting the Pandora software specifically for use at the DUNE Near Detector.

Dr Marshall says “Through AIDAinnova, we’re collaborating with other teams across Europe: to develop software for future detectors, and to help include the Pandora software in a reusable “turnkey” software stack, designed for easy use at future particle physics experiments.”

AIDAinnova is co-ordinated through CERN. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermilab is the host laboratory for DUNE, in partnership with funding agencies and more than 1,000 scientists from all over the globe.

Find out more about AIDAinnova project by watching The AIDAinnova project video.  

25 April 2022.

Wed 27 Apr 2022, 15:37 | Tags: Outreach, Public Engagement and Media, Research

Heteronanotubes break the bandgap barrier

Nano-scale co-axial cables - heteronanotubes - can now be created from different semiconducting materials, offering the possibility of active nano-scale wires that absorb light efficiently and are also highly conductive. Our recent work uncovers the unique way in which infrared light is absorbed in the central core of a heteronanotube, altering the amount of visible light absorbed by the outer skin. This contrasts to the traditional picture of light absorption in semiconductors, where a photon of light is only absorbed if its energy is above a critical energy - the bandgap - of the material.

Tue 15 Mar 2022, 10:59 | Tags: Research

Knowledge Transfer Partnership led by Professor Steven Brown graded outstanding!

The recently finished Knowledge Transfer Partnership led by Professor Steven Brown from our NMR group funded by Innovate UK in partnership with AstraZeneca to improve pharmaceutical product quality and manufacturing processes has been graded as outstanding!

Read the case study.

Thu 24 Feb 2022, 10:02 | Tags: announcements, Research, Awards

Why are we seeing more northern lights this year?

Spectacular auroral displays have been seen in the sky in more places this year, with greater frequency. Professor Sandra Chapman, Head of Centre for Fusion Space and Astrophysics answers the question in The Conversation.

Read The Conversation article

Mon 07 Feb 2022, 08:48 | Tags: announcements, Research

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