Diamond Light Source ("Diamond") is the UK's national synchrotron science facility located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire. Its purpose is to produce intense beams of light whose special characteristics are useful in many areas of scientific research. In particular it can be used to investigate the structure and properties of a wide range of materials from proteins (to provide information for designing new and better drugs), and engineering components (such as a fan blade from an aero-engine) to conservation of archeological artifacts (for example Henry VIII's flagship the Mary Rose).
Following early work during the 1990s, a final design study was completed in 2001 (the so-called 'Green Book') by scientists at Daresbury Laboratory; construction then began following the creation of the operating company, DIAMOND Light Source Ltd.
Diamond was built at Chilton near Didcot in Oxfordshire, UK, next to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory operated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). It produced its first user beam towards the end of January 2007, and was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 19 October 2007.
The facility is operated by Diamond Light Source Ltd, a joint venture company established in March 2002. The company receives 86% of its funding from the UK Government (via the STFC) and 14% from the Wellcome Trust. Diamond cost £260m to build which covered the cost of the synchrotron building, the accelerators inside it, the first seven experimental stations (beamlines) and the adjacent office block, Diamond House. Costain Ltd constructed the building and the synchrotron hall.
One of seven UK Research Councils, Diamond are the primary funder for Astronomy, Nuclear, Particle and Particle Astrophysics. With the UK Space Agency, they support Space Exploration. On behalf of the other Research Councils, they manage access to large science facilities for UK researchers through their facilities and international agreements, making available cutting edge machines to provide x-rays, lasers and neutrons. Continuing our international leadership role, they manage the UK subscriptions to major collaborations in our science areas, such as CERN and ESO.