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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W02098X/1
Title: The UK National Crystallography Service 2022-27
Principal Investigator: Coles, Professor SJ
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Chemistry
Organisation: University of Southampton
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 July 2022 Ends: 30 June 2027 Value (£): 4,010,773
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Catalysis & Applied Catalysis Chemical Synthetic Methodology
Materials Characterisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
17 Nov 2021 PS NRF Call 2021 Interview Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The NCS facility is amongst the most powerful and highest throughput in the world. Through this next phase it will take a significant step that will clearly make it the world-leading facility. This will be achieved by harnessing upgrades to the latest cutting-edge X-ray technologies, coupled with a range of advanced techniques that expand the scope of crystallography studies that are accessible. Core business will be the ability to handle and examine samples that a typical academic crystallography unit cannot. New provision of the advanced techniques will enable crystallisation and dynamic experiments under non-ambient conditions and will cement the NCS's globally leading position. Investment in expertise and training the next generation continues to be central to the NCS, which will provide a rapid, professional and expert service for chemical crystallography to chemistry and related areas.

The Core service will provide either raw/derived data being provided for processing, or a full analysis service taking a study through to publication. The ability to handle the most demanding samples in the UoS laboratory is a key feature, providing an effective filter for a follow-on synchrotron service. The NCS has regular access to the world-leading I19 beamline at Diamond Light Source. Thus, when required, the most powerful facilities are readily available to all of UK Chemistry and related disciplines, enabling rapid progress and cutting-edge research. It will be possible to perform advanced crystallographic experiments for feasibility, pump-priming or collaborative projects e.g. variable temperature, variable pressure and controlled gas environment studies. Customers from SMEs, spin-outs and large industry alike will have access to the same advanced facilities via commercial access to the professional, timely and bespoke service. Both novice and expert users will have access to appropriate training, from work-shadowing, introductory practical work and rudimentary data analysis, through to advanced analysis and solving the most demanding structural problems. A novel PG student apprenticeship scheme will extend NCS expertise out into individual departments.

The NCS is well established in the research community with a proven ability to deliver a high profile and high throughput service and leads in many aspects, both nationally and globally. The facility has an exceptional publication record and is amongst the world's most prolific contributors to the CSD. The Director has been involved with NCS operations for 30 years, with the co-director working within the field for >20 years and a highly experienced team this gives a combined NCS staff expertise well in excess of 90 years.

Professionalism is a trademark of the NCS - it prides itself in exemplary and rigorous processes for sample handling and tracking, data management and publishing, a bespoke user interface and an ability to deliver to a demanding set of KPIs. The environment in which the NCS is housed is ideally suited to its function. Governance and strategic direction of the facility is performed by an independent panel with wide-ranging expertise which presides over access, ensuring that the highest profile and impact science is being supported in the best possible way.

Key new features for the NCS in this next phase of operation include:

Reaching out to new users and sectors, the new crystallisation service underpins industry, SMEs and spin-outs, while dynamic experiments extend capability for academia;

Completing upgrades to the next generation instrumentation will catapult the capability and capacity of the NCS to a new level for a lab-based facility;

Several technician and apprentice schemes will train the next generation.
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.soton.ac.uk