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March 4, 2016

Celebrating 25 years of muon research at the RIKEN RAL Muon Facility

The cake

The ceremonial cake

On February 16-17, a users’ meeting to commemorate a quarter-century of the RIKEN-RAL project was held on RIKEN’s Wako campus, attended by more than 150 collaborators who have participated in the experiments conducted at the RIKEN-RAL facility. Following oral presentations by Indonesian and Malaysian collaborators, there was a poster session with 88 posters by researchers from Japan and abroad, featuring active discussions on muon science research.

RIKEN concluded an agreement of international collaboration on muon science in 1990 with SERC (The Science and Engineering Research Council) in the UK, and the following year, started construction of the world’s highest intensity pulsed muon experiment facility in the ISIS Proton Accelerator Facility (ISIS) at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL). Completed in 1996, the facility has been a key site for muon science research open to researchers from Japan, the UK and other countries.

More than 900 researchers have participated in the experiments conducted at the facility, leading to more than 380 papers published in international journals. These experiments have produced outstanding research results, two exceptional examples being research on the properties of the quantum spin liquid and another on the direct observation of α-sticking process, an inhibiting factor in muon catalyzed fusion (both behind paywalls).

Today, experimenters at the facility use the pulsed muon beam to measure and analyze the structure of internal magnetic fields in matter and elucidate the mechanisms between the emergence of superconductivity, magnetism, conductivity and insulation in innovative functional materials. Upgrading of the technology of ultra-slow muon beam production is also underway.

At the ceremony held during the poster session, RIKEN Executive Director Shigeo Koyasu, Nishina Center Director Hideto En’yo, RIKEN Facility Office at RAL Director Philip King, and KEK Professor Ryosuke Kadono gave opening remarks on behalf of the users, and then a congratulatory message from Tim Hitchens, British Ambassador to Japan, was read to the audience. A toast was given by Prof. Kanetada Nagamine, Honorary Fellow, who contributed to the opening of the RIKEN-RAL facility, and this was followed by the cutting of a cake with a special design commemorating the 25th anniversary.

During the poster session, there was a lively discussion by researchers working in different disciplines, and the ceremony concluded with the participants expressing their hopes for the continued development of science and technology in Japan and the UK, not only in the field of muon science but in all areas of science.