India is collaborating with the United Kingdom for enhancing the facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), which is one of the national scientific research laboratories in the UK operated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).
Union minister of state for science and technology; MoS earth sciences; MoS PMO, personnel, public grievances, pensions, atomic energy and space, Dr Jitendra Singh visited the UK's premier institution, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) and met researchers, including those working on the UK- India iSiS project.
In addition to hosting facilities for the UK, RAL also operates departments to co-ordinate the UK programme of participation in major international facilities. The largest of these are the areas of particle physics, and space science. The site hosts some of the UK's major scientific facilities, including the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source (1984), a spallation neutron source, the Central Laser Facility, the Diamond Light Source synchrotron etc.
Dr Jitendra Singh mentioned that in this year of India’s G-20 presidency when Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given the theme of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ meaning the whole world is one single family, India is ready to offer its experiences in science and innovation to other countries for the larger benefit of mankind. The UK, being a traditional partner, has been collaborating with India in the field of science and innovation for a very long time, he said.
The minister appreciated Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) for coordinating the UK programme of participation in major international facilities. Under Mega Facilities for Basic Research, Indian researchers are having collaboration with international institutions like CERN (Geneva), FAIR (Germany), TMT (USA), Fermilab (USA) and LIGO (USA). Major achievements from these international collaborations include about 500+ collaborative research publications, 150 PhDs, creation of R&D infrastructure in the country, involvement of 150+ Institutions and 75 Indian industries, development, prototyping of a large number of in-kind items for these mega projects and technology transfers.
Dr Jitendra Singh said that India’s Department of Science & Technology (DST) has a major collaborative project under the Nano Mission, which enabled Indian researchers to pursue collaborative research with the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source and to have access to all of the neutron and muon beamlines of the facility at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. The ISIS accelerator in RAL is one of the few leading research centres to carry out neutron scattering studies in materials research.
The minister appreciated DST for contributing to the construction cost of a new beamline ZOOM dedicated to small-angle scattering in TS2 of the ISIS facility. The tenure of the project is up till 30 September 2023, with total project cost of £2.5 million. Over 25 research papers have already been published, encompassing various disciplines.
The proposal for Phase II (2023-28), which is under consideration, has 5 components, namely, provision for the visits of two scientists for each experiment, provision of cash contribution of £3 million towards the upgrade of mutually beneficial instrumentation (including the “Indian motivated” ZOOM beamline), provision of fellowships for one postdoctoral fellow, provision for the visit of two researchers obtained their beam time under direct access, fund to organise steering committee meetings every year in India and the UK alternately and fund for organising the "India-UK Neutron Scattering Workshop" alternate year starting from the first year of the project.
Talking about another breakthrough in the field of science and innovation, Dr Jitendra Singh said the union cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the LIGO-India project to build an advanced gravitational-wave detector in Maharashtra, at an estimated cost of Rs2,600 crore. The facility’s construction is expected to be completed by 2030. The observatory will be the third of its kind, made to the exact specifications of the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatories (LIGO), in Louisiana and Washington in the US. LIGO-India will work in tandem with them.
The minister concluded by saying that he is looking forward to more opportunities for India UK collaboration in sharing of R&D infrastructure to get more from less.
Dr Jitendra Singh is leading a high-level official Indian delegation of the ministry of science and technology on a 6-day visit to the United Kingdom.