Diamond synchrotron secures funding for next phase

The government and the Wellcome Trust have announced further funding to support Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron science facility, in the next phase of its development.

Lord Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, announced that the government will allocate funding for Diamond from the Large Facilities Capital Fund. Earlier in the month, Science Minister Lord Drayson had committed the government to putting in place arrangements over the coming year to ensure longer-term operational support for national facilities such as Diamond.

This means that Diamond has secured approximately £110 million for phase III of its development, 14 per cent from the Wellcome Trust and 86 per cent through the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

"Diamond is a world-class facility and it is essential that it has both the capital and the revenue funding necessary for it to deliver world-class science," said Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust.

"We have been greatly impressed with the achievements of the team at Diamond who have delivered high-quality beamlines on budget and to specification. The Wellcome Trust is very pleased to work in partnership with the government, through STFC, to continue to support its development."

"Today we're demonstrating our ambitious vision for UK science," said Lord Mandelson. "By investing in one of the jewels of the nation's science crown we're building on record levels of investments over the past decade to secure the future of science and help drive innovation.

"Diamond - the world-best Light Source - shines a light on how strategic government investment in high-tech, high-skilled facilities can push at the boundaries of science and drive forward the new high-tech, high-skilled industries and jobs of the future."

Opened in 2007 near Didcot in Oxfordshire, Diamond is the largest UK-funded scientific facility to be built in the UK for more than 40 years. A collaboration between the Wellcome Trust and the UK government, the Diamond synchrotron currently has 17 operational beamlines with high-tech experimental stations used by UK and international scientists to study matter and material at the scale of atoms and molecules; five additional phase II beamlines are scheduled to be added.

Phase III of the project will provide for a further ten beamlines by 2017, bringing the full complement of beamlines at Diamond to 32. This will allow Diamond to fill important scientific gaps in provision as well as offering new opportunities in emerging areas where the UK can lead from the start.

Phase III will give researchers in the UK access to new and urgently needed techniques not currently available at Diamond. It will provide the facility with a world-leading capability that will push the limits of resolution into the nano-scale and will have major impact in the study of advanced materials, life sciences and in environmental research.

Since opening, Diamond has produced a wealth of exciting science, with 247 groups of researchers allocated regular time on the beamlines over the past year and 3000 users of the facility on the books.