The University of Nottingham will be the base for the world’s first Liquid Phase Photoelectron Spectroscopy (LiPPS) machine.
Funded by a £675,000 grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), LiPPS is a unique X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) machine which allows researchers to take atomistic measurements of the surface of liquids for the first time.
The researchers say the machine will increase the UK’s competitiveness in a range of high-value industrial sectors including semiconductors, aerospace, pharmaceuticals and automotives.
“The excellent new LiPPs machine will be the first of its kind in the UK,” said Business Secretary Vince Cable on a visit to the University of Nottingham.
“It will help maintain the University of Nottingham's leading position in nanotechnology research, which has a host of real world applications.
“The university’s close links with industry will enable businesses to tap into this knowledge and expertise, driving growth and innovation across a range of important sectors, including manufacturing.”
Current instrumentation in the XPS field allows only for the analysis of solid substances, but the LiPPs machine will be able to deal with a wider range of sample types and to acquire data autonomously.
The university says the facility will open up an entirely new sector for the research community, generating new avenues for research and supporting training of early stage career researchers.
Through the provision of open access to industry LiPPS, which will be sited within the Nottingham Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Centre (NNNC), will provide a key service that could yield products within two to three years.
The potential applications of this technique are vast as solute composition and interfacial structure are dominant in a wide range of processes including catalysts and electrode-related systems.
Insight into interfacial regions in these systems is crucial to the design of more efficient energy storage/conversion devices.
It underpins our knowledge of solution-based processes including electroplating and polishing which are key to high tolerance engineering processes throughout the automotive and aeronautics industries.
“The University of Nottingham’s Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Centre is leading the way in nanotechnology research,” said Professor David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Nottingham
“We have a long history in the research and commercialisation of nanotechnologies and I am very pleased that EPSRC is providing significant funding to enable us to commission the production of the LiPPS machine.
“This unique spectrometer will enable us to continue our important, cutting edge work in this field.”
The Centre will collaborate with other leading centres of Photoelectron Spectroscopy, particularly the national facility (NEXUS) hosted at Newcastle University.
Other universities including Imperial College, York, Leicester and Queen’s University Belfast will also benefit from its use.
The announcement of the LiPPS instrument is the latest in a number of major initiatives that the university is undertaking in the field of nanotechnology.
Just last month, the university and its spin-out business, Promethean Particles, secured a major EU nanotechnology research project with an overall value of €9.7 million.
The project, known as SHYMAN (Sustainable Hydrothermal Manufacturing of Nanomaterials), will take place over the next four years and includes partner universities and businesses from 12 European countries.
Read more about the University of Nottingham’s work in nanotechnology