LENS Initiative Newsletter - January 2022, Issue 3

Our first newsletter of the new year is packed with updates from members, who have continued to deliver an impressive range of activities despite the challenges of the last two years.

If you would like to find out more about LENS’ activities, our virtual General Assembly on 17 February is open to all. You can also hear from our Chair, Robert McGreevy, on the goals and scope of the LENS Initiative in our new video.

Through the LENS: foreword by LENS Coordinator

Since joining the ILL in 2009, Miriam Förster has managed multiple projects for the European neutron and muon community. In this foreword, Miriam describes the evolution of research and innovation programmes in Europe.

Thanks to three consecutive NMI3 projects funded by the European Commission (EC), the European neutron and muon sources have, for a long time, been motivated to work together to exchange their experience and create synergies. In 2015, the launch of the SINE2020 project marked the first step to a different kind of funding.

The EC wanted the neutron community to evolve and establish its independence, emphasising that the I3 funding instrument was only intended to initiate the integration of infrastructures. Over four years, the SINE2020 project extended a succession of EC funding, providing support for joint research activities and networking, not including funding transnational access to the facilities. Over 15 years (2004 – 2019), the EC provided a total of 56M EUR to the European neutron and muon community.

Now, the steer of the EC tends towards overarching goals, such as the Horizon Europe Missions, and Research Infrastructures need to demonstrate their impact in terms of enabling mission-oriented research. It is with this in mind that the Analytical Research Infrastructure in Europe decided to join forces, leading to the creation of the ARIE network.

More than ever, the research community must have a shared goal, and the united front presented by the analytical facilities in Europe is an important step towards this ambition. I am hopeful that the scientific community will continue to renew its commitment to work towards a common objective that reaches beyond the short-term goals of the individual institutions.

Find out about Miriam's career in neutron science in Meet the People

Join the LENS General Assembly

On 17 February, LENS will be holding a virtual, open meeting to provide an update on the consortium's activities and the situation for neutrons in Europe.

View the agenda and register >>

Recent News

BNC-LENS beam time open for proposals until 22 Feb

Given the current shortage of neutrons in Europe, BNC is offering to accommodate any experiment that has been allocated beam time at a LENS facility but for any reason has not yet been scheduled, provided it is technically feasible to accomplish at BNC.


New leadership at European neutron facilities

Since our last newsletter, three LENS members have welcomed new leadership. In October, Roger Eccleston took over as Director of ISIS, following Robert McGreevy’s retirement. The same month, Paul Langan was welcomed as Director of the ILL, succeeding Helmut Schober, who took office as Director General of the ESS on 1 November.

Many congratulations to Roger, Paul and Helmut on their new roles, and we look forward to their participation in the LENS Council.

ESFRI Roadmap recognises LENS’ role in strengthening European science and innovation

Since 2006, the ESFRI Roadmap for Research Infrastructures has influenced national and European strategies, policies and funding. The latest roadmap recognises LENS’ role in bringing together European analytical facilities to "improve the cooperation of various communities and enhance user facilities".



Last year, parties from across the world gathered for the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). In parallel, LENS members joined forces to demonstrate the role of neutron science in delivering breakthroughs for climate and sustainability. A variety of materials, including webinar recordings and science highlights are available on our COP26 webpage.

Researchers from the University of Bath have used neutron diffraction to investigate the interaction between salty water and carbon dioxide under extreme conditions, advancing research into the storage of carbon deep beneath the seabed. 


ISIS Public Engagement: Lighting the way with lemons!

As part of activities marking COP26, ISIS held a virtual workshop for over 450 primary school students from across the UK. Students were taken on a journey through battery technology, learning about components, discovering neutron science, and building their own lemon batteries to power a light bulb! The event was a huge success, with many more schools requesting the recording. To find out more, email ISISschools@stfc.ac.uk.

25 years of neutrons at SINQ

On 17 January, PSI celebrated the 25th anniversary of the inauguration of the Swiss Spallation Neutron Source, SINQ. In this time, SINQ has established itself as an important centre for neutron research in Europe.

High-performance detector for DMC enters hot commissioning phase

As part of a joint project with MLZ, a new high-performance 2D position-sensitive detector has been installed on the cold neutron diffractometer (DMC) at SINQ. DMC will enter the SINQ user program later in 2022.

New instrument commissioned by LLB

SAM is a medium size small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) instrument that is currently being developed by the LLB, to be commissioned at the ILL in Spring 2024. It is a medium-size small-angle neutron scattering instrument with polarised neutrons capabilities. A spin echo option (“MIEZE” method) will also allow spectroscopic studies up to a few ns resolution. Along with SHARP (ILL) and SANS-LLB (SINQ-PSI), SAM is part of the LLB’s strategy to provide versatile neutron beamlines to the user community of the former Orphée reactor (Saclay, France).

Call for nominations for ENSA prizes

The European Neutron Scattering Association (ENSA) invites nominations for the 2021 prizes: Erwin Felix Levy Bertaut (in collaboration with ECA), Walter Hälg, and the Neutron Instrumentation and Innovation Award. Prizes will be awarded at the International Conference on Neutron Scattering 2022 in Buenos Aires (ICNS 2022).

MLZ User Meeting 2021

From new battery materials and cancer therapeutics made at FRM II, to a new deuteration service, the more than 130 talks and posters showed that MLZ users are very active. The latest MLZ newsletter provides information on scientific instruments and current developments.

Follow MLZ and FRM II on social media

Get an insight into the fascinating world of science and research with neutrons. Follow MLZ for a look behind the scenes at the research neutron source, including impressive pictures, scientific highlights and exciting videos about scientists and instruments.


Building better batteries with neutrons

In collaboration with LENS, ISIS has created new resources for school students (ages 11-14) describing how batteries work and how neutrons are used to investigate battery technologies. A worksheet and video (available in five languages) explains how to build your own battery using lemons!

New comic gives a colourful perspective on neutron science

Travelling along channels: Confined liquids seen by neutrons is a fun retelling of a real neutron diffraction experiment. The comic, which is available online and in print, is part of a series of comics by LLB describing ‘scientific adventures’ at large-scale neutron scattering facilities.

Muon Spectroscopy: An introduction

Aimed at beginner graduate students and those new to the technique, Muon Spectroscopy: An introduction provides a comprehensive overview of muon spin resonance spectroscopy and its applications. The book was published as a follow up to the successful SINE2020-funded Advanced Muon School held by ISIS and PSI in 2019.

Meet the People

LENS Coordinator - Miriam Förster

Miriam Förster joined the adventure in 2009, working as a project manager on the second Integrated Infrastructure Initiative for Neutron Scattering and Muon Spectroscopy (NMI3) project. Based at the ILL, Miriam has since successfully managed three coordinated projects for the European neutron and muon community and helped the ILL to increase its overall participation in EU projects. Since 2017, Miriam has been the Head of the EU-Office at the ILL, overseeing all European project funding under direct responsibility of the ILL Director.

As a trained engineer with an MBA from a French national school (ENPC), Miriam’s pragmatism and efficiency are put to great use in managing LENS secretariat and through her involvement in EIROforum – as well as in running the EU-office at ILL.

Miriam was born and raised near Frankfurt. She studied next to the Baltic Sea and in Vienna, completing her studies with a diploma thesis on modelling avalanches in Switzerland and Argentina. She then started working for a German engineering company in the Ivory Coast and Mozambique, before settling in France. In her free time, she is a passionate skier and cyclist.

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