ISIS@MACH (MAterials Characterisation Hub), is a new Research Infrastructure (RI) based in the in the Region Lazio –University of Rome Tor Vergata’s Campus, acting as the first Hub of the UK based ISIS pulsed neutron and muon source, supported by Region Lazio under the specific funding programme POR FESR 2014-2020 to strengthen Research Infrastructures.

ISIS@MACH is an open access RI seeking to answer relevant science questions about the fundamental nature of composite materials at the atomic and molecular scale. The research facility is located in University of Rome Tor Vergata’s Campus.

The research facility, Campus, is the first hub of the ISIS pulsed neutron and muon neutron (UK).

This represents a new stage in the longstanding relationship between the two institutions, dating back to 1985, which will enable both Italian and UK researchers to pool knowledge and experience with collaborators across UK and Italy, respectively, recognising the value of integrating light, neutron and muon probes bring to multidisciplinary research. 

ISIS@MACH provides essential tools for carrying out comprehensive multidisciplinary projects for the understanding of properties of composite materials, from atomic-characterisation to synthesis, technique development to numerical simulation. It will also strengthen links between Italian researchers and the wider neutron and muon communities. ISIS@MACH is the first ISIS hub outside of the UK, providing neutron and muon users with a new suite of unique and complementary characterisation techniques. The creation of the Hub is a natural consequence of the continuous collaboration between ISIS and “University of Rome Tor Vergata”, involving a large number of students and researchers, and an increasing number of industrial partners. Another area to benefit will be cultural heritage research. Neutrons and muons are non-destructive tools for peering deep into materials, which can provide a range of insights, for example how an object was made, the impact of conservation methodologies or whether and how the object has been restored.

ISIS@MACH offers access to both an integrated suite of probes, instrumentation and services on site and, through the ‘ISIS@MACH Neutron Gate’, to the suite of neutron&muon beamlines at the ISIS facility.

ISIS@MACH suite of instruments and service are free at the point of access for academic and industry researchers, provided the results from experiments are published in the public domain. Fully confidential fast-tracked use of the instruments is also available for industrial and commercial customers.

Users- regardless of their affiliation, area of expertise or field of activity – may apply for access to ISISMACH’s or jointly to  ISIS@MACH’s and ISIS’s, by submitting proposals using the ISIS@MACH online system. These are reviewed by Facility Access Panel’s (FAP’s). There are a number of routes to access ​beamtime​ to ISIS@MACH, that are dependant​ on the urgency and complexity ​​of the user requests (see Beamtime Proposal Guidance).

Approved proposals allow proponent users to access to ISIS@MACH’s integrated suite of instruments, probes, service and support competences for performing the research on site – for sythesis and growth, for fine analysis of surfaces and imaging, for theory and simulation; to access the suite beamlines at ISIS facility, which applies only for those users requesting an additional analysis with neutron and muon probes “ISIS@MACH Neutron Gate”.


ISIS@MACH is operated by an interdisciplinar community of scientists. Experiments, research and development programmes are designed as joint efforts between scientists of the research infrastructure academia and industry. Through ISIS@MACH, users can benefit of open access research, instrumention, services, expertise, training opportunities and data management services in composite materials, that may not been available at their home institutions or among their collaboration partners.

The research activities within ISIS@MACH concern different areas of Smart Specialization, i.e. Space, Life Science, Cultural Heritage, Energy, Green Economy and ICT.

The facility accepts proposals based on the integrated use of the laboratories for research projects that cover from sythesis and growth to fine analysis of composite materials. The access request is submitted as a scientific proposal, through a web-site (under construction), upon registration, without deadlines, and are treated in a pipeline manner. ISIS@MACH proposals are subsequently peer-reviewed by international experts and ranked according to scientific merit. Access mode and time are then agreed with the successful proponents in order to maximise the success of the usage of the facility.


Background: the rationale for ISIS@MACH

Understanding the properties of materials on the nanoscale provides the opportunity to develop advanced materials, tailoring their properties for specific applications, tackling global challenges across life, chemical, medical, physical and engineering sciences as well as in arts, heritage and archaeology. There is increasing recognition that addressing varied problems such as green energy or antibiotic resistance, the digital economy or food security, requires a multidisciplinary approach.

Accessing innovative sythesis and growth, fine analysis and imaging technologies on the atomic ascale in an integrated manner, in synergy with ISIS facility, and in a single hub is a path to undertake to foster breakthrough material and bio-material discoveries and their translation into applications.

The University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, the Center for Studies and Research “Enrico Fermi” at ISIS@MACH and the ISIS neutron and muon source will work together bringing expertise in areas including aerospace engineering, biomaterials, building greener economies, cultural heritage, and energy research. Almost all of the major changes in our society, the dramatic revolutions in transport and manufacturing, the expansion of computing and the internet and the steady increase in average life span, have their origin in understanding and exploiting the physics and chemistry of materials. The goal of modern materials science is to understand the properties of matter on the atomic scale, and to use this knowledge to optimise the properties or develop new materials.


The Joint Research Unit ISIS@MACH ITALIA – work in progress


What are research infrastructures?

Research infrastructures are facilities, resources, and related services used by the scientific community to conduct research and foster innovation. They include major scientific equipment, resources such as collections, archives or scientific data, e-infrastructures such as data and computing systems, and communication networks. Their development has been coordinated through the European Strategic Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) since 2002. ESFRI is a strategic instrument to develop the scientific integration of Europe and to strengthen its international outreach.