[Press & Publications] Beaming Smiles Mark Scientists' Success [Physics & Astronomy}

March 2000

No 53

Scientists at the University of Leicester have reason to be beaming with success - following completion of a 1million 'beamline' project.

The first experiments have been successfully completed by scientists in the Physics and Astronomy Department using the new and highly innovative source of ultra violet light.

The team from Leicester, headed by Dr Chris Binns, has been working on the project in conjunction with Professor Colin Latimer of Queen's University, Belfast, and Dr David Holland and Dr Paola Finette from Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire since 1997.

This followed the group's success in gaining a 1.3m Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council grant. Officially named 'BALLAD' (Belfast And Leicester Line At Daresbury), the new beamline, designed to be used for research in all natural sciences, is now part of the Synchrotron Radiation Source (SRS) at Daresbury.

Dr Binns said: "Now that the beamline, which is a high-intensity source of ultra violet light of variable (linear or circular) polarisation, has proven successful, its practical applications will be impressively diverse.

"It will enable a wide range of experiments on systems as diverse as atmospheric molecules, important for the maintenance of the environment, chiral molecules, which are central to the study of modern medicine, and novel magnetic materials, important for the complex tasks of magnetic recording."

Dr Binns explained that the first, successful, experiment looked at a unique magnetic material formed out of clusters rather than atoms. In order to keep pace with the ever-increasing demand for high-density information storage it is necessary to develop new high-performance magnetic materials. Such 'cluster-assembled' materials (a novel process under development at the University of Leicester) are the most promising candidates for the data storage systems required in the next decade.

"The variable polarisation properties of the beamline represent the future for the study of materials to be used in high performance recording systems," said Dr Binns.

For more information, please contact Dr Binns on +44(0)116 252 3585.

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Last updated: 27 March 2000 16:02
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