We welcome academic and industry research projects at the Dalton Cumbrian Facility from the UK and overseas.

Our facilities allow scientists to simulate several decades of in-service exposure in an operating environment, providing important data for lifetime behaviour predictions and models.

Visiting researchers have support from our experimental team as well as access to analytical and inspection laboratories, meeting rooms and hot desks in our research office.

We are part of the National Nuclear User Facility, part of the HM Government’s Nuclear Industrial Strategy enabling greater accessibility to world leading technologies as a collaborative effort from four complimentary hubs within the UK: the Central Laboratory of the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL), the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy (CCFE), the Dalton Cumbrian Facility (part of The University of Manchester) and the University of Lancaster.

Booking our facilities

We welcome academic and commercial users from the UK and overseas.

Please contact Anne Knott and we will ensure the most appropriate member of staff responds to discuss your requirements.

Accelerator systems

We publish calls for proposals regularly throughout the year and allocate beam time well in advance. Please register by contacting Anne Knott if you would like to be included in call notifications. Proposals are panel-assessed and we would strongly recommend contacting us for an informal discussion prior to submitting a proposal.

Gamma irradiator

We allocate irradiation slots one month at a time, one month in advance. However, it is best to contact us as early as possible to discuss your requirements. We reserve a fixed percentage of time each month for commercial work with the remainder for academic projects. Occasionally there may be short notice slots available. We welcome projects from a variety of fields; this equipment is not reserved exclusively for nuclear sector research. For example, we have undertaken a number of biological projects in recent months. 


Equipment charges are determined on a sliding scale according to how your organisation and research is classified, from fully collaborative university research to purely commercial work. Please contact us for details.

Research proposals

If you intend to include use of our equipment in a grant proposal, please contact us prior to submitting the bid. We would aim to support your submission by providing charging information and discussing capability, feasibility, timescale, initial pilot studies, potential collaborations and challenges to consider. 

Accelerator systems

Our 5MV and 2.5MV Pelletron Ion Accelerators are available for use by academic institutions and industry. 

  • 2.5 MV Pelletron Ion Accelerator

    Our 2.5 MV single-ended accelerator (NEC Model 7.5SH) is capable of accelerating ions to energies up to 2.5 MeV for protons, helium ions or heavier gas ions from the accelerator’s RF ion source.

    It operates two beam lines which are configured to coincide with two beam lines from the existing 5 MV tandem accelerator to provide 2 dual beam irradiation end stations.

    The dual beam capability allows researchers to replicate the damage environment experienced by materials in a high radiation field, where the presence of the ion radiation (typically proton or alpha irradiation) can interact with radiation damage mechanism and alter the process.  In these experiments the 2.5 MV single-ended accelerator provides a proton or alpha rich radiation field whilst a heavy ion beam from the larger 5 MV tandem accelerator is used to create the radiation damage.

    High current RF source for:

    • Up to 100μA of 1H+ (up to 2.5 MeV ions)
    • Up to 50μA of 4He+ (up to 2.5 MeV ions)
    • Lower currents of heavier gas elements
  • 5 MV Tandem Pelletron Ion Accelerator

    Our 5 MV tandem accelerator is capable of supplying 10 MeV protons and 15 MeV helium ions as well as higher energies of a variety of partially-stripped heavy (typically metal) ions, principally for research in nuclear energy.

    The 5 MV ion accelerator operates six beam lines, three focused on radiation chemistry and three on materials damage. It has two ion beam sources; one for high current proton and alpha beams, with a second source for lower currents of heavier ions.

    • High current TORVIS source for:
      • Up to 100μA of  1H+ (up to 10 MeV ions)
      • Up to 15μA of 4He2+ (up to 15 MeV ions)
    • Low current SNICS source for heavy ions
    • Six beam lines allowing flexible experimental setup
    • Two target vaults to facilitate parallel working
  • Beam lines

    Dalton Cumbrian Facility has a total of eight operational beam lines with six end stations available for irradiations, two of which have dual beam irradiation facilities.

    • Lead shielded NNUF ‘hot cell’ for high current / high energy irradiations, with shielding for activated samples
    • A general purpose radiation chemistry end station with access to a collimator
    • An autoclave system for irradiation of fluids
    • Two dual beam end stations for irradiation with multiple ions
    • Rutherford Backscattering end station incorporating RBS and PIXE analysis for characterisation of samples
    • General purpose materials damage end station
  • Research focus

    The beam lines will be used primarily for radiation damage studies of materials that are of interest to the nuclear energy industry.

    The accelerators are also suitable for research in a variety of other areas, for example radiobiology and space missions.

  • Gamma irradiator

    Co60 irradiator

    Our Cobalt-60 gamma irradiator lets researchers understand the mechanistic effects of gamma radiation on exposed materials. It is designed specifically to support a wide range of nuclear research applications as well as research in other fields.

    • Self-shielded
    • Capable of supplying absorbed dose rates from 4 Gy/min up to 450 Gy/min
    • Experimental flexibility enabled by a large 9 litre sample chamber incorporating a range of sample configuration
    • Two 19mm access ports with scatter shields to accommodate flexible wiring and pipework in experimental designs.Other irradiation facilities include a controlled atmosphere chamber with low energy electron gun and laser induced fluorescence detection

    Pre- and post-irradiation characterisation and analytical equipment

    Dalton Cumbrian Facility provides fully equipped analytical and post-irradiation examination laboratories to closely examine the impacts of radiation exposure.

    Our equipment can be used to measure gas production, analyse ions in solution, measure polymers and other organics, determine macromolecular weight distributions, perform isotopic analysis and a wide range of other measurements to analyse the molecular structure and surfaces of materials and samples.

    Analytical techniques available include:

    •  Field emission gun environmental scanning electron microscopy
    • FT IR & IR Raman spectroscopy
    • Raman microscopy
    • Gas and ion chromatography and HPLC
    • Absorption, reflectance and fluorescence spectrometry
    • Surface area and pore size analysis (BET method)

    Central Laboratory access

    National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) Central Laboratory

    Through our partnership with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the National Nuclear Laboratory we have an agreement covering academic access to the National Nuclear Laboratory’s Central Laboratory, on the Sellafield site.

    Central Laboratory is capable of handling uranium, plutonium and other highly radioactive materials, including nuclear waste.

    Key facilities at the Central Laboratory: 

    • Highly active alpha/beta/gamma cells (awaiting active commissioning)
    • Active laboratories for plutonium
    • Low active and inactive laboratories
    • A uranium active rig-hall
    • A non-active rig-hall incorporating vitrification test rig
    • The supporting infrastructure and workshop space for over 300 technologists
    • Variety of electron microscopes and mass spectrometry systems

    Example areas of research focus: 

    • Oxide and metal fuel reprocessing
    • High-level waste vitrification
    • Intermediate level waste treatment and storage
    • Mixed oxide fuel production
    • Decontamination and decommissioning
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