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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R025355/1
Title: FINESSE NanoBio (Fabrication and Imaging of Neon-Etched Structures and Surfaces for Engineering, Nanoscience and Biotechnology)
Principal Investigator: Daly, Dr R
Other Investigators:
Neely, Professor A O'Neill, Professor W Abell, Professor C
Reichelt, Dr S Langford, Dr RM
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Alphasense Ltd Carl Zeiss Ltd (UK) NSG Group (UK)
UK-CPI (dup'e)
Department: Engineering
Organisation: University of Cambridge
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 19 February 2018 Ends: 30 November 2020 Value (£): 2,427,240
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Manufacturing Machine & Plant Materials Characterisation
Materials Processing
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
06 Dec 2017 EPSRC Strategic Equipment Interview Panel December 2017 (2) Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The FINESSE NanoBio team is proposing a new UK capability in imaging, cross-sectioning and patterning materials that are traditionally very difficult to examine at the nano and sub-nanometre scale without seriously effecting their structure or behaviour. It is important that the UK is placed at the forefront of this research, enabling start-ups, SMEs and large companies to drive innovation and growth with stronger underpinning scientific understanding. To address this, the team is requesting funding for a customised Zeiss NanoFab tool that consists of:

1. An ultra-high precision imaging capability (sub 0.5 nm) of conductive and non-conductive samples

2. An ultra-high precision patterning and TEM sample preparation capability (2 nm) of the same range of samples

3. A cryogenic sample handling system to enable imaging of biological materials and biological or fluid interfaces with materials and structures.

The tool achieves this revolutionary performance by focusing a stream of helium ions onto the surface and measuring the subsequently released secondary electrons. Ions can also be used to remove material in their path for patterning or cross-sectioning materials. This system has three ion options, gallium for bulk removal, neon for additional polishing and cutting and helium for very careful polishing. This difference in behaviour is due to the lower mass of the ions.

Direct writing of metals in 10nm feature sizes is also feasible with this system, which will enable electrical contacts to be fabricated to advanced functional materials to test, for example, their conductivity or electrochemical behaviour when making sensors.

The requested support will have far-reaching impact through the projects and industrial partners of almost 50 research groups actively supporting this proposal in Cambridge, across 10 different Departments and 4 different Schools. This sphere of scientific influence is amplified by the strong support from 5 universities, 2 catapult organisations and 3 industrial network organisations, who represent an estimated 1500 companies.

This incredible response by academics and industrial researchers means the facility will also drive new engagement and collaborations between these partiers and will foster collaboration, through for example the planned symposium and engagement events.

The commissioning, access, outreach and management will be delivered by a small committee of experienced researchers and microscopy suite managers, with review and guidance from a larger steering group of EPSRC, industrial and academic partners to ensure fair access, an environment that fosters collaborations and postgraduate education.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.cam.ac.uk