Science Minister visits Harwell as Government invests £81 million in new Advanced Imaging Centre

A new advanced imaging centre at Harwell Campus will receive £81 million government funding, housing super-bright lasers to produce state-of-the-art 3D X-rays in just 40 seconds. Images generated at the Extreme Photonics Applications Centre (EPAC) will give precise 3D images of the internal structure of objects from aircraft wings to bones.

The investment is positive news for UK Plc as the technology will help businesses to speed up development of high-value products and could reduce costly manufacturing errors. The technology has the capability to accelerate development of new medical treatments and identify design improvements. Currently high resolution 3D imaging of a diseased bone with existing technology can take hours or days: the new systems will produce detailed 3D X-rays in just 40 seconds.

Commenting today, Science Minister Chris Skidmore said “Today’s launch of the £81 million advanced imaging centre will enhance the UK’s leading role in laser technology, including revolutionising medical imaging. I’m especially delighted to be launching the centre with Physics Nobel Prize winner Donna Strickland.”

Opening at Harwell in 2024 EPAC furthers the pioneering work of 2018 Physics Nobel Prize winner Donna Strickland whose work to develop high-intensity ultrashort pulses of light beams transformed whole sectors including medicine technology and is now a common technique in laser surgery, among other disciplines.

Coinciding the launch of EPAC with the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which aims to encourage females to pursue a career and subjects relating to science and technology, Donna Strickland stated, “Science education helps develop skills in problem solving and critical thinking necessary to address some of the world’s biggest challenges. When we encourage girls and women to engage with science, they bring more diversity to science and fresh perspectives that can only help in finding innovative solutions.”

Funding for EPAC is provided from UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF)  (£71.5 million) with further investment of £10 million from the Ministry of Defence.