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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/V034014/1
Title: Addressing Interdisciplinary challenges through Raman Microscopy - a new facility for UEA
Principal Investigator: Lettice, Professor F
Other Investigators:
Marin, Dr MJ Lord, Dr R M Hernaez, Dr M
Saeed, Dr A Hui, Dr K Khimyak, Professor YZ
Fabian, Dr L Tolhurst, Dr TJ Fielden, Dr J
Askounis, Dr A Liss, Professor P Mayes, Dr AG
Melendi-Espina, Dr S Alexander, Dr MS Sobolewski, Dr A
Nolte, Dr S Kaplani, Dr E Romanov, Dr A
Qi, Dr S Wright, Dr JA Chao, Dr Y
Cammidge, Professor AN Baker, Professor AR
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemistry
Organisation: University of East Anglia
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 06 November 2020 Ends: 05 May 2022 Value (£): 537,500
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Analytical Science Energy Storage
Manufact. Enterprise Ops& Mgmt Materials Characterisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy Manufacturing
Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
29 Sep 2020 Core Equipment Award 2020 - Panel 1 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
This proposal seeks funding to purchase a Confocal Raman Microscope for the Science Faculty at UEA. This will be used by a large cohort of scientists, including early-career researchers and post-graduate students interested in the chemistry and properties of materials, to support their varied research work. It will strongly complement significant investments in other materials characterisation instrumentation over the last few years, including high precision confocal microscopy for imaging and metrology, (UKRI, 2020, £156K), (confocal) fluorescence microscopy (UKRI, 2019/20, £775K), scanning electron microscopy (UKRI, 2019, £620K), X-ray crystallography (EPSRC, 2019, £616K) and powder diffraction (UKRI, 2019, £140K), fluorescence spectroscopy (EPSRC, 2019, £61K) and NMR spectroscopy (solution and solid state, about £750K from internal resources over last 8 years).

Raman spectroscopy measures the specific vibrations in molecules and materials. Different materials vibrate in different ways, which provides details about their molecular makeup and structural organisation. It is a valuable characterisation tool for a wide variety of projects in chemistry, engineering, biology, pharmacy and environmental science and can be applied to many different types of samples. In some cases, the Raman spectrum can act like a "chemical fingerprint" to allow an unknown sample to be identified, such as a microplastic particle in a water sample. In other cases, very subtle changes to the details of the spectrum can provide information about chemical reactions that have taken place, or changes to the physical state of a sample such as crystallisation. Raman spectroscopy can be considered complementary to infrared spectroscopy, but it also has many important and unique attributes that open up completely new measurement opportunities. For example, it offers the ability to measure in water or other solvents, inside transparent containers (e.g. electrochemical cells, flow cells, ampoules of explosive or moisture-sensitive materials) and in many other configurations not easily amenable to other techniques, as well as specific material types, such as carbon materials; graphene, graphene oxide, nanotubes, that cannot be easily characterised by other techniques. In Raman microscopes, laser beams can be focused very tightly, providing incredible opportunities to achieve 2D and 3D imaging at sub-micron length scales using confocal microscopy techniques. Far beyond standard measurement scenarios, this enables detailed spectral characterisation with simultaneous sub-micron spatial resolution and thus opens up the world of micro- and nano-materials, composites, microphase separation phenomena and porous solids to analysis.

As part of UEA's research vision, its portfolio of materials-centred research has steadily grown in volume and importance, particularly with the emergence of the new School of Engineering (ENG), which will become independent in 2021. It will be boosted by the opening (January 2021) of the £7M Productivity East (https://beta.uea.ac.uk/groups-and-centres/productivity-east) advanced prototyping and manufacturing facility. This development is aimed at accelerating the growth of engineering education and research at UEA, for which Materials Science is already a significant research area. The characterisation of materials is an essential, complementary tool for exploiting the investment in manufacturing capability. As well as supporting a large cohort of scientists from diverse schools of study in their research endeavours, the Raman microscope will also contribute immediately to the Productivity East infrastructure, which is key to delivering local and regional impact from the research undertaken at the University.

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