[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 31-May-2012
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Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

World's first liquid surfaces X-ray machine will increase UK's international competitiveness in high-value industry

The University of Nottingham will be the base for the world's first Liquid Phase Photoelectron Spectroscopy (LiPPS) machine, a high performance tool that will increase the UK's competitiveness in a range of high-value industrial sectors including semiconductors, aerospace, pharmaceuticals and automotives.

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. Current instrumentation in the XPS field allows only for the analysis of solid substances. LiPPS will be easier to operate, able to deal with a wider range of sample types and to acquire data autonomously.

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.

Business Secretary Vince Cable, who is visiting the University of Nottingham today, said: "The excellent new LiPPs machine will be the first of its kind in the UK. 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."

Through the provision of open access to industry LiPPS will provide a key service that could yield products within two to three years. The potential applications of this technique are vast. 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.

LiPPS will be sited within the Nottingham Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Centre (NNNC) at University Park. 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.

Speaking about the LiPPS instrument, Professor David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Nottingham, said: "The University of Nottingham's Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Centre is leading the way in nanotechnology research. 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 university's Dr Peter Licence and his team are credited with the discovery of ionic liquid-based surface science. Additionally Ms Emily Smith has been a key figure in the development of XPS instrumentation and is one of the few people in the world with the expertise to design and interpret experimental data in the context of liquid samples.

The announcement of the LiPPS instrument is the latest in a number of major initiatives that The University of Nottingham 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.

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For more information about The University of Nottingham's work in nanotechnology, visit http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/nnnc/index.aspx

For further information contact Nick King, Marketing Projects Manager, Business Engagement and Innovation Services, University of Nottingham. Tel: 0115 82 32184, or email nicholas.king@nottingham.ac.uk

EPSRC Press Office on 01793 444404 or pressoffice@epsrc.ac.uk

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around 800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone's health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK. www.epsrc.ac.uk

The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as 'the embodiment of the modern international university', has 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is also the most popular university in the UK by 2012 application numbers, and 'the world's greenest university'. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2011, for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fund-raising campaign, will deliver the University's vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future.

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