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Nuclear physics collaboration takes off

Nuclear physics research is set to benefit from a major international project.

The UK has officially become part of FAIR, the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research, a €1.6 billion international project being built in Darmstadt, Germany.

The UK’s new member status at FAIR will allow nuclear physicists - including representatives from the University of Edinburgh - to work at the cutting edge in developing new and innovative applications for nuclear physics.

These could include creating brand-new techniques for cancer therapy, studying the high-radiation conditions found in space for future manned space missions, or developing nuclear-fusion energy.

Phil Woods, of the University’s School of Physics, is part of the NUSTAR (NUclear STructure, Astrophysics and Reactions) group that will contribute to the FAIR project.

FAIR will be the world’s most important nuclear physics research facility for many years to come making this a very exciting time to be involved in this area of research. It will most certainly provide vital inspiration for our young nuclear physicists and engineers of the future.

Prof John WomersleyChief Executive, UK Science and Technology Facilities Council

Radiating change

Nuclear physics research is already responsible for a host of world changing applications across many areas of our lives.

These include providing the technology behind MRI scanners in hospitals, in the early detection of brain tumours and cancer therapy, as well as in anti-terrorism security applications.

With first experiments expected later this decade, researchers hope that work conducted at FAIR will make huge strides towards our understanding of the universe.

It could reveal findings about so far unknown states of matter and still missing information about the creation of the Universe 13.8 billion years ago, as well as elements on the supernovae of stars.

Once fully complete, FAIR will have a high energy and high intensity accelerator complex, with several storage rings and 3.5km of beam-lines, and will provide antiproton and ion beams with unprecedented intensity and quality.