2022 IOP Technician Award: Dave McCue
National Research Facilities
Dave McCue for excellent support of over 250 scientific experiments at the UK’s synchrotron facility Diamond Light Source, contributions to cutting-edge developments and dedication to training the next generation of synchrotron technicians.
Dave McCue has been the primary technical support for the I09 beamline, an experimental station at Diamond Light Source, for 12 years. In this time, he has built and rebuilt much of the beamline and provided support to over 250 user beam time sessions. As visiting scientists are often unfamiliar with the experimental setup, McCue ensures that users get the most out of their experimental time by providing expert mechanical support. He supports experiments across a wide range of fields, including batteries, quantum materials, catalysts and complex surface structure measurements. This involves the maintenance of a huge variety of sample environments, and the frequent addition of user equipment to the experimental chamber. McCue’s extensive experience is routinely called upon to mount, repair and even improve such equipment.
McCue is involved in every project performed on the I09 beamline from conception through design and unto completion, resulting in the construction of world-leading equipment that utilises many different synchrotron-based techniques. He has led the design and construction of the new in-house designed manipulator, a ‘unique-in-world’ manipulator that provides flexible sample environments for user experiments. This new manipulator allows a high sample throughput, in-operation study of batteries and access to a wider range of sample temperatures. Due to his wide range of expertise, McCue frequently supports other technicians, scientists and students across Diamond.
McCue is a key figure in the apprenticeship programmes of Diamond and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), training the next generation of synchrotron technicians, for which he volunteers his own time. He has trained 17 apprentices in mechanical assembly and is currently line managing four. His work within these apprenticeship programmes has seeded technicians into five other large facility labs; namely, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France, the Joint European Torus at Culham, Oxfordshire, and the Central Laser Facility, ISIS Neutron and Muon Source and Diamond Light Source at Harwell Campus, Oxfordshire. Notably, a recent addition to McCue’s team is a graduate from the STFC programme. The opportunity to continue learning under McCue, as they build a next-generation electron detector that will allow unparalleled study into quantum materials, was a vital consideration for this technician when joining the group.