Professor Emma MacPherson was on Sky News International showcasing a new skin scanner which has the potential to transform the way skin cancer is detected and treated. Using pulses of light from the terahertz part of the light spectrum it will detect how far cancer that is not visible has spread under the skin. This will mean that surgical removal can be better planned, more effective and faster. This in turn will reduce patient waiting times and improve patient outcomes as well as reduce costs to the NHS.
We would like to wish Professor Steve DixonLink opens in a new windowLink opens in a new window a huge congratulations as he has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering during their AGM on 20 September 2022. Steve is a Professor and Director of the Centre for Industrial Ultrasonics.
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.
We have a brand new observatory on campus near to the University sports pavilion. The telescope was lifted in last week, having been brought to the UK from La Palma where it was used to contribute towards projects on topics ranging from exoplanet and variable star characterisation to global clusters. Our Physics with Astrophysics students will be able to gain hands-on project experience with the telescope starting this academic year.
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.