Foundation of a Deuteration Network: DEUNET
The deuteration.net website
Most modern neutron facilities all over the world have deuteration laboratories that offer isotopic labelling and sample preparation services to the user community. In order to enhance the synergies and user benefits from these facilities, SINE2020's Chemical Deuteration work package has been an important vehicle for establishing a scientific collaboration network that allows the participating labs to support each other and share expertise, as well as serving as a focal point for connecting to the neutron scattering user communities that use deuteration.
Task 5.5 of the work package was to establish a European chemical Deuteration Network, DEUNET, to provide a platform to improve user access to deuterated compounds for experiments at neutron facilities. Deuterated compounds are essential for many neutron techniques, but as most users are not experts in chemical synthesis, user access to a deuteration service is paramount for promoting innovative neutron research, particularly in biomedical science and soft matter research.
DEUNET increases the visibility of deuteration services, connects them more easily to users and facilitates the sharing of complementary expertise between members. Since its first meeting in 2015, it meets about every 6 months, has members from 4 different facilities around Europe and has attracted international members from Australia, the USA and Japan including several biological deuteration facilities. There is even interest from industry as many vendors and producers of speciality chemicals typically lack expertise in deuteration methods and are keen to get to know the neutron scattering community.
DEUNET has its own dedicated website: deuteration.net to communicate with, and connect to, the user community and aims to set up a deuterated chemicals database so users can search for information about compounds that have been deuterated before and where. The network has also carried out an international User survey to identify the current and future deuteration needs of users, and have together organised a User workshop held in Oxford in May 2017, attended by 60 people from all over the world.
The platform has already fostered several cross-facility collaborations that will help expand the range of deuterated molecules offered to users by new method development and boosting know-how on how to make new deuterated compounds. An important ongoing discussion is how deuterated compounds can be offered to European and global neutron scattering users on a scientific merit basis, regardless of where they perform their neutron experiments.
The DEUNET initiative will help to bring new users to neutron techniques and enable new science through increased access to deuterated molecules and materials and has been instrumental in preparing a new laboratory at the European Spallation Source, which will have its own chemical and biological deuteration labs within the DEMAX Deuteration and Macromolecular Crystallisation platform.
DEUNET members as well as biological deuteration and crystallisation facilities in Europe now aim to secure further support together for sustainable deuteration services and continued R&D in deuteration and crystallisation methods after SINE2020 ends, under the Deuteration Technologies Task within working group 3 of the League of advanced European Neutron Sources (LENS) initiative.
Acknowledgements: Hanna Wacklin-Knecht and Anna Leung, ESS
Participants of the DEUNET meeting on 25th April 2019.