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Pioneering new x-ray facility will study diamonds

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SCIENTISTS from Aberystwyth University are among the first to have used a pioneering new x-ray facility at one of the world’s most advanced scientific facilities.

The new VERSOX facility at the UK’s national synchrotron radiation facility in Oxfordshire was developed by a team of scientists including Professor Andrew Evans, head of the Department of Physics at Aberystwyth.

Professor Evans chairs the User Working Group of the multi-million pound VERSOX project which delivered its ‘first light’ in June 2017.

Professor Evans and colleagues from the Materials Physics research group at Aberystwyth used the new facility to study diamonds at the beginning of August.

Their work focused on nanodiamonds which measure just five nanometres across. Over a million diamonds would fit on the head of a pin.

The team are studying how these tiny diamonds supplied by diamond producer DeBeers could be used to improve the way drugs are delivered in the body for the treatment of conditions such as cancer.

Five years in its development and construction, VERSOX is part of Diamond Light Source at the Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire.

Designed to work like a giant microscope, Diamond Light Source harnesses the power of electrons to produce bright beams of light that scientists can use to study anything from fossils to jet engines, viruses and vaccines.

VERSOX is one of a series of laboratories known as ‘beamlines’ that capture the bright light beams, giving researchers access to a machine 10,000 times more powerful than a traditional microscope.

Described as a versatile soft X-ray facility, VERSOX has been designed for the study of elements including those essential for life: carbon, nitrogen and oxygen.

Professor Evans said: “VERSOX provides a unique advanced tool for future materials development, as it allows researchers to study the atomic structures, the chemical nature and the composition of surfaces at near-ambient pressure, providing important real-world data for a wide range of materials and applications.

“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,” he added.

Researchers at Aberystwyth University specialise in the physics of diamond surfaces and coatings with molecules, metals, insulators and graphene and also in the interaction of diamonds with light to pave the way for making new quantum structures.

Aberystwyth is one of eight partner universities to have been awarded a new Centre for Doctoral Training in Diamond Science and Technology (CDT) by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

The work of the CDT promises many pioneering diamond-enabled technologies and original scientific insights.
PhD students from the University are using the soft x-ray methods available through VERSOX to probe interfaces between diamond, nanodiamond and organic molecules for applications in electronics, quantum computing and drug delivery.

A world authority on diamond surfaces, Professor Evans is a guest speaker at the week-long European Materials Research Society 2017 Fall Meeting and Exhibition which opens in Warsaw Poland on Sunday (Sept 17).

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Recognition given to long-standing members of Council committee

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AT AN Ethics and Standards Committee (virtual) meeting held on 17 September 2021,  Rif Winfield and Hywel Wyn Jones were given recognition for their 10 years’ of service to the Committee between 2011 and 2021. A small plaque was presented to both.

Hywel was Chair of the Committee for 3 years.

In their place, two new independent members Alan Davies and Caryl Davies have been appointed.

Eifion Evans, Chief Executive of Ceredigion County Council said, “Ceredigion County Council has benefitted from a decade of advice and considerations provided by Rif & Hywel. We welcome the new members of the committee and their input to the function of the Committee will be greatly appreciated.”

Standards Committees of local authorities exist to do all that is possible to promote and safeguard the standards that the public rightly expect from their elected representatives.

Ceredigion County Council Chairman, Councillor Paul Hinge, said, “Our thanks go to Rif and Hywel who have given their time to contribute to the Committee and we welcome the new members.”

The Committee is made up of five independent members, two county councillors and two town/community councillors. Meeting quarterly, reports for the Ethics and Standards Committee including dispensation applications can be found on the Council website: www.ceredigion.gov.uk.

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Exciting new developments on the horizon for Lampeter Wellbeing Centre

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Architects have been appointed to oversee the project and work will now begin on the proposed layout for the facility

At a Cabinet meeting held on 01 December 2020, it was agreed that Lampeter Leisure Centre would become the location of the Council’s first Wellbeing Centre in the County.

A significant amount of work and investment is to be made at the Leisure Centre which will improve the facility and the resources for years to come.

Over the coming months, as we see the plans and proposals for Wellbeing Centre develop, they will be shared with service users and the residents of Ceredigion.

Architects have been appointed to oversee the project and work will now begin on the proposed layout for the facility. The layout will be a reconfiguration of the existing facility in order to provide a Wellbeing Centre that can provide an enhanced range of Through Age Services, including Leisure Services to the residents of Lampeter and the mid of the county. 

Councillor Catherine Hughes, Ceredigion County Council Cabinet Member, said: “We are looking forward to the development of the new Wellbeing Centre at Lampeter. This will provide a range of services to residents within their local community.

This development comes at a welcome time, as Ceredigion Public Service Board is carrying out an Assessment of Local Wellbeing, in order to find out about the wellbeing of local people and communities, now and in the future.”

Lampeter Leisure Centre will be closed during the building works, but during this period alternative provision will be made available for all service users and clubs.

We look forward to being able to share these alternative plans with you over the coming weeks, as soon as these arrangements have been finalised.

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UK Government must improve HGV drivers’ working conditions – Ben Lake MP

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Many people in the HGV industry have expressed concern

FOLLOWING his contribution during PMQs on September 8 regarding the HGV driver crisis, Ben Lake MP has raised the issue again, with Minister Grant Shapps.

Ben Lake MP has said:

“Many constituents who work in the HGV industry have come forward to share their experiences with me about the HGV driver crisis. As well as expressing grave concern, they have also shared ideas and long-term solutions that would greatly improve the current situation. 

“It’s important that the UK Government listens and gives full consideration to these suggestions and I look forward to meeting with the Minister in the near future to discuss them further.”

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