Prof Andrew Evans (front row, third from left) at the opening of the new VERSOX facility at Diamond Light SourceImage copyright Aberystwyth University
Image caption Prof Andrew Evans (front row, third from left) with colleagues at the new VERSOX facility

Aberystwyth University experts have been among the first to use a new x-ray unit to study tiny diamonds, a million of which could fit on a pin head.

The VERSOX facility in Oxfordshire was developed by a team including Prof Andrew Evans, head of the university’s Department of Physics.

He said researchers could use it to study the atomic structures, chemical nature and composition of surfaces.

Designed to work as a giant microscope, experts are studying nanodiamonds.

The Materials Physics research group at Aberystwyth University are probing interfaces between diamond, nanodiamond and organic molecules for applications in electronics, quantum computing and drug delivery.

The VERSOX facility is part of Diamond Light Source, the UK’s synchrotron science facility at Harwell Campus, Didcot, which is used by academics and industry researchers to conduct experiments.

It is one of a series of laboratories known as “beamlines” that capture the bright light beams, giving researchers access to a machine said to be “10,000 times more powerful than a traditional microscope”, according to a university spokesperson.

Prof Evans said: “The facility will be of benefit to a diverse range of scientific areas, including pharmaceuticals, electronics, environmental chemistry and heritage conservation and we are delighted that the Aberystwyth group is one of the first to use it.”

Researchers at Aberystwyth University specialise in the physics of diamond surfaces and coatings with molecules, metals, insulators and graphene as well as the interaction of diamonds with light.

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