The ISIS synchrotron at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire, UK, has launched a second target station for neutron beams which will allow scientists to study a range of new systems: from polymers and materials that sequester carbon dioxide, to soft matter and biomaterials. 

Experiments on the £145 million station at the facility - which is owned and run by the Science and Technology Facilities Council - are expected to start in October 2008, following five years of design and construction. A test beam to generate the first neutrons at the new target was due to be fired in the first week of August. From 2009, scientists around the world will be invited to apply for beam time.

Seven neutron scattering instruments have been initially installed at the target station. The first instrument to receive neutrons will be Inter, a high-resolution, high-flux reflectometer designed by ISIS scientist John Webster to study chemical interfaces by bouncing neutrons off them. 

Inter will study a wide variety of systems, says Webster - including the behaviour of biosurfactants, the interfaces between layers of thin polymer films used in organic LED screens, and the way drug molecules interact with membranes in the body.

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