Scientists at Huddersfield University have played an important role in getting one of Europe’s biggest construction projects off the ground.
Physicist Prof Robert Cywinski, dean of the university’s graduate school, joined large numbers of other European scientists for a ceremony to lay the foundation stone of an advanced neutron research facility in Lund, Sweden.
The group were celebrating the start of work on a 2bn-euro “super microscope” which will enable thousands of researchers to see and understand the atomic structure of materials.
The facility, called the European Spallation Source (ESS), represents a major advance on the more usual nuclear reactor-based technology.
It is hoped that the first neutrons will be produced by 2019 and it is estimated that eventually some 3,000 scientists a year will use the ESS for research into fields that include computer components, fuel cells, textiles, medicines, transport, food technology, DNA and cosmetics.
Prof Cywinski was heavily involved in spreading public awareness of the project – including the production of a promotional movie fronted by actor and Huddersfield university chancellor Sir Patrick Stewart.
Prof Cywinski said he was delighted that construction work had started and that he was able to take up an invitation to attend the foundation stone ceremony – marking the fruition of a project that he can trace to the 1980s.
Also present at the ceremony were the university’s Prof Sue Kilcoyne and Prof Colin Carlile, a central figure in the development of the ESS, who is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Huddersfield.
Several of Prof Cywinski’s colleagues at Huddersfield have also been closely involved in the development of the ESS. They include Prof Roger Barlow, Dr Cristian Bungau and Dr Adriana Bungau, who have carried out crucial calculations. They hope to continue being involved in the design of instrumentation and the accelerators.
Huddersfield’s Prof Rebecca Seviour spent a year in Lund seconded to the ESS project as a physicist, helping the development of the powerful ESS accelerator during its design phase.