The Old Bostonian Association

Graham C Smith (BGS 1960-1967)

Graham Smith, son of the late Colingwood "Colin" Smith of Swineshead, has led a team of scientists from the Brookhaven National Laboratory, New York, together with Veljko Radeka from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, to design and fabricate an advanced two-dimensional, neutron detector.

This instrument has eight separate devices all behaving as part of a single device, whereas previous neutron detectors had at most three devices, working separately. It took three years to design and build but it will permit data collection to be made twenty times faster! Its function will be to study protein structures.

Proteins are very large molecules that carry out the cell's chemistry, direct organs' activities, and defend against infection. The diversity and usefulness of proteins stem from their intricate structure and shape. Neutrons tell you information about the hydrogen content of proteins and, as about half the atoms in a protein are hydrogen atoms, this means that neutrons provide valuable information that would not be available otherwise.

The advanced neutron detector will allow scientists to take snapshots of changes that occur in a protein every millisecond. The detector will be able to count at least one million neutrons per second.
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Updated 21 February, 2005