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  • HRH The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh pause by the Diamond model while former CEO Gerd Materlik (left) and Sir David Cooksey, Chairman (right) explain how the machine works.
  • Aerial view of the construction site of Diamond Light Source (06.2003)
  • Aerial view of Diamond Light Source today

10 Years of Scientific Achievement at Diamond

Oct 25 2017 Comments 0

October 19th marked 10 years since Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, officially opened Diamond Light Source, the UK’s synchrotron science facility based at Harwell, Oxfordshire and as part of its anniversary celebrations, the public were invited to find out more about the exciting past decade of research and innovation.

Inside Diamond open day events offer the chance for visitors to see inside the particle accelerator and experimental laboratories, meet some of the scientists that use Diamond and ask them about the work they do - everything from viral proteins to engine parts and ancient texts.

For the past 10 years Diamond has exceeded expectations, with 2017 marking the publication of 6,000 peer reviewed journal articles, employees now topping 600, academic and industrial user visits now exceeding 9,000 a year and over 60,000 visitors ranging from undergraduates and graduates, secondary school students, to members of the public.

Synchrotron light has helped develop or improve many everyday commodities, including food manufacturing to consumer products, revolutionary drugs, surgical tools, computers to mobile phones. For example, recently technological advancement at Diamond has aided the design of a new synthetic vaccine to protect against the foot and mouth disease virus and to target the virus that causes polio. Diamond has also supported progress in a number of other fields, including green energy solutions, advanced engineering and nanotechnology.

Prof Andrew Harrison, current CEO at Diamond, commented: “With these achievements in mind, all I can say is that I am humbled and proud to be at the head of such a great project and of the dedication of our current and former staff, contractors and user community from academia and industry.

“Let us not forget we are here as the result of the vision (that the) UK Government and the Wellcome Trust had (when investing) 15 years ago. We are all looking forward to an even brighter future! By 2020, Diamond will have 33 operational beamlines, which together with complementary facilities, will provide a truly integrated facility for virtually every field of science. I am confident Diamond will remain at the forefront of scientific research in the UK, Europe and globally.”

At the official opening of Diamond 10 years ago, the Royal Party toured the synchrotron machine – an incredible feat of science and engineering measuring over half a kilometre in circumference and covering an area over three times the footprint of Buckingham Palace. During the visit, they were shown how the powerful light is produced and exploited, along with the range of science to which Diamond had already started to contribute. The Queen and The Duke met many of the staff, scientists, engineers and technicians from Diamond who helped create this world class scientific facility in the Oxfordshire countryside in just five short years.

Professor Gerd Materlik, former CEO of Diamond, said at the time, "We feel extremely honoured by the royal visit, which not only marks our official opening, but also pays tribute to all those involved with the design, construction and now operation of Diamond. From the very beginning, we have placed great emphasis on the importance of community collaboration. Early in 2007, we welcomed our first academic users from universities across the UK and in July an open day, attended by over 4,000 people, allowed us to share with the local community in Oxfordshire the wide range of science that has started here - from research into the structure of medicine to the mapping of chemical composition of meteorites."

To find out more about Inside Diamond events visit

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