LENS Initiative Newsletter - June 2021, Issue 1

Welcome to the first issue of the LENS Initiative newsletter.

Established in 2018, the LENS Initiative is the result of a long and productive partnership between European neutron facilities, working to advance neutron science and technology across the world.

With the launch of this newsletter, we look forward to bringing you updates on the latest activities and opportunities from LENS.

Map showing the location of LENS members.

Through the LENS: foreword by Robert McGreevy

At the LENS launch meeting in Liblice in 2019, I was honoured to give a short introduction to the long (and proud) history of collaboration of European neutron (and muon) facilities – from the first Access to Research Infrastructures programme at the DR3 reactor in Denmark in the 1990’s, and the Neutron Round Table (picture below from 1994), to the Integrated Infrastructure Initiatives for Neutrons and Muons (NMI3) in the 2000’s and their successor SINE2020.

The founding of the European Neutron Scattering Association in 1994 and the International Society for Muon Spectroscopy in 2002 were also important steps to building a broad community of facilities and users.

For 30 years, EU-funded projects have provided us with a very convenient framework, timescale and funding for technical collaborations. However, this is not part of the new Horizon Europe programme. One of the challenges for LENS, and where I plan to focus my efforts as chair, is to renew these collaborations, or initiate new ones, though now they will have to be self-funded and self-organised. LENS Working Groups 3 and 4 need to include real joint projects with deliverables and milestones (all the things we hated when the EU made us do them …), as well as more general meetings and information exchange. While there are opportunities in Horizon Europe, these will be mainly around the delivery of scientific services to priority challenge areas such as the Green Deal, in partnership with other research infrastructures (e.g. through ARIE – Analytical Research Infrastructures of Europe). They will only be a very small proportion of the overall science programmes that our facilities already offer in these areas, so they should consume a proportionate share of LENS effort.

The other challenge for LENS will be to help maintain the cohesion of the community of facilities and users that I referred to before. While the user community is a lively mix of new faces and old timers, the facilities are mainly old timers, several of whom we have unfortunately lost recently. The expected new arrival – the ESS – is a bit overdue and any low energy accelerator based facilities are yet to be conceived (even if names have already been chosen). Like any community, we will have our differences in priorities, but there is a strong common recognition that ‘united we stand’ – which is why LENS exists.

Science Highlight

Designing the next generation of electronics using neutron science

In an international collaboration with the ILL, researchers are experimenting with the design of semiconductors, which are a key component of modern computer chips. Their studies could herald the future of electronics using organic materials and bespoke designs.


Industry Case Study

Exploring engine components to develop more durable, fuel-efficient lubricants

A team of scientists from Infineum UK Ltd and Finden Ltd have studied organic deposits from lubricants in engine components using neutron tomography at ISIS Neutron and Muon Source.


Recent News and Activities

LENS appoints new Chair

In March, LENS welcomed Robert McGreevy as chair. Robert, who is Director of ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, has long been a proponent for collaboration between European neutron facilities. Find out more in Meet the People.

Many thanks to Helmut Schober (ILL) for his invaluable contributions as founding chair of the LENS Initiative.

Analytical Research Infrastructures of Europe for the Green Deal: ARIE4GD

LENS is part of the Analytical Research Infrastructures in Europe (ARIE), an association of around 120 research facilities covering neutrons, muons, X-rays, ion beams, electron microscopes, protons and lasers. As part of ARIE, LENS has been involved in the creation of position papers on how Europe’s research infrastructures can contribute to Horizon Europe Missions in general, and to viral and microbial threats in particular. ARIE also submitted a proposal to Horizon 2020 as part of the ‘Green Deal’ call to enable cross-technique facility access for energy storage materials research.

The proposal aimed to open up research infrastructure access through tailored access programmes and the provision of expert advice and assistance to the energy storage community.  This was the first time that such a large collaboration of research infrastructures collaborated to create a network of facility access – an entirely new and exploratory venture.  The proposal scored well with the EU, but is still waiting to hear whether funding will be made available.  

Visit the ARIE website >>

LENS Report on Low Energy Accelerator-driven Neutron Sources

An Ad-hoc Working Group of LENS has published a report on the scope and capabilities of low energy accelerator-driven neutron sources, offering an outlook on how this evolving technology could supplement the ecosystem of neutron sources in Europe.

Read the report >>

LENS Machine Learning School

In February, over 80 participants attended the online LENS Machine Learning School. The school provided beginner and intermediate coders with an overview of machine learning techniques, alongside neutron- and muon-based applications.

View resources from the Machine Learning School >>

LENS Webinar Series

Join us for the next LENS webinar

10 June, 15:00 CEST
The Wolter optics based neutron microscope
Dr Daniel Hussey - Physical Measurement Laboratory, NIST

Find out more and register >>

Meet the People

LENS Chair - Robert McGreevy

Robert McGreevy started his ‘neutron career’ in 1978 as a PhD student at Oxford University, carrying out experiments at the ILL, the Dido and Pluto reactors at Harwell in the UK, and also the less well known Harwell linac compact neutron source. He then became a postdoc with the specific role of being one of the first users of ISIS. During the 1980’s he developed the Reverse Monte Carlo method for structural modelling, for which he is best known scientifically, enabling the study of disordered in materials ranging from simple liquids to superconductors. In 1992, Robert moved from Oxford to Sweden, becoming Director of the Studsvik Neutron Research Laboratory between 1994 and 2002, when he moved back to the UK to become a Division Head at ISIS. After a year at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, he became Director of ISIS in 2012. He has been actively involved in European collaborations over many years, from being one of the earliest users to benefit from an EU Access programme (at the DR3 reactor in Denmark) to being coordinator of the first NMI3 project.

Contact us

Want to receive the LENS newsletter directly to your inbox?