"Throughout the 90s, it became apparent that there was some science that we just couldn't do with Isis 1," said Andrew Taylor.
"We wanted to look at polymers, surfactants, aggregates - these things have got structures bigger than just a few tenths of angstroms.
"Bigger molecules need neutrons which are matched to their structure - longer wavelength neutrons."
The new target station supplies these. It also has a greater flux (flow of neutrons per second) allowing greater control of intensity, and quicker experiments - ideal if you are a researcher visiting from Japan for just three days of beam time.
At its core is a lump of tungsten metal the size of a packet of biscuits - the "target" - into which pulses of protons are fired at 84% of the speed of light.
The target radiates neutrons like a discoball scatters light - 20,000 million million per second.
Surrounding it is a ring of colour-coded bunkers, inside which scientists place their samples - be they toothpaste or turbine blades.
Each bunker houses a different experimental tool for imaging matter.
The neutrons are like pinballs fired into the sample, cannoning off the atoms inside and spraying out on to a detector.
By recording the angles they pop out, scientists can plot the atomic structure of the sample material, without breaking it open, or cutting it up.
And whereas other high-resolution microscopy techniques only scratch the surface of a material, Isis can give a cross sectional view of the material in its natural state.
Take a pint of beer. To watch the individual alcohol molecules flirting with different water molecules, you need to observe them in the aqueous environment.
Spiders and silkworms spin their silk from liquid precursors - creating fibres far stronger than anything we humans can synthesise artificially. So how do they do it?
Scientists from the Oxford Silk Group have been using Isis 1 to measure the properties of the liquid silk ingredients.
Isis 2 is equipped with more powerful experiments, which will reveal how the silk recipe is stored and prepared.
Isis (left) and Diamond (right) have different techniques for visualising matter
Meanwhile, on a global scale, the new target station will help Isis to compete with other neutron sources.
They include the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), Grenoble, France, which uses a continuous nuclear reactor as its neutron source, and the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, US, which is based on Isis technology, only with higher beam powers.
But is neutron scattering really so special? After all, there are other types of super-microscope - one within eyesight of Isis.
The Diamond synchrotron light source uses highly focused beams of X-rays to probe deep into the basic structure of matter and materials.
But Isis can do some things that Diamond just cannot.
Andrew Taylor, director of Isis, with his team
"We see matter in a different way," Andrew Taylor explains. "Neutrons see the nucleus of the atom. X-rays see the electrons.
"And that means that neutrons see the hydrogens. X-rays don't.
"Take uranium hydride. Uranium's got 92 electrons and hydrogen has one. The X-rays have no idea where the hydrogen is.
"But neutrons see the hydrogen and uranium nuclei with equal magnitude."
No wonder that automotive engineers aiming to design hydrogen storage materials are working with Isis.
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