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ISIS gears up for a data deluge

UK neutron science research centre ISIS is preparing for the expected torrent of data it will produce and have to process when its Second Target Station opens this year.

The Second Target Station is the UK’s biggest science project currently under construction and is expected to almost double the amount of experiments supported within ISIS. This will increase the rate at which ISIS produces data rapidly, as researchers make use of the new instruments the station will house. 


The ISIS Second Target Station Project will complement the facilities already operating at ISIS and enable the centre to expand into research areas such as soft matter, advanced materials and bio-science.  The experimental programme at the new target station will begin in October 2008.

ISIS is currently developing a new framework for the second centre with Rutherford Labs, which operates ISIS via its Science and Technology Facilities Council, for the simulation and analysis of data from the neutron experiments.

The new common framework is called  ‘Mantid’ and will support many kinds of analysis software within a common environment. 

By letting scientists model their experiments in 3D and providing real time analysis and visualisation, Mantid will allow scientists to tune their experiments on-the-fly to optimise the performance of their equipment, hence saving time.

Software engineers for the new framework are also working in close partnership with neutron scientists to ensure evolving needs of neutron science are met.

ISIS is also producing new tools to support an increasing user base and make neutron science more accessible to academia and industry. The ISIS centre currently supports an international community of more than 2,000 scientists who use neutrons and muons for research in physics, chemistry, materials science, geology, engineering and biology.

Refinements in our understanding of neutrons and more efficient and complex experiments will also drive up the rate at which data is produced.  The amount produced will soon be some 2,000 times the amount of data in the human genome each year.


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