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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/W033852/1
Title: A Relativistic Electron Diffraction and Imaging (RUEDI) Facility for Structural Dynamics on the Femtosecond Timescale
Principal Investigator: Browning, Professor ND
Other Investigators:
Maskell, Professor S Noakes, Dr TCQ Mehdi, Professor B
Welsch, Professor CP Kirkland, Professor AI
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Material, Design & Manufacturing Eng
Organisation: University of Liverpool
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 01 December 2021 Ends: 31 March 2024 Value (£): 3,258,626
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
01 Jan 3000 Large Research Infrastructure Outline Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Transformative innovations in the science and technology of personalised medicine, energy storage (grid and transportation), clean growth (energy generation, transformation and advanced manufacturing), and materials operating under extreme conditions will start from achieving atomic and molecular control of the fundamental (bio)-chemical interactions that determine each process. As Lord Kelvin famously said, "To measure is to know. If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it". Here we introduce the vision of a national facility centred on the unique measurement capabilities offered by relativistic ultrafast electron diffraction and imaging (RUEDI). This globally unique facility would permit the direct observation of atomic/electronic motions directing the very chemistry that must be controlled to make the advances listed above. It would enable observations that are the essence of chemistry and by extension, the driving force for biological functions on their fundamental time and length scales.This would permit:

A determination of structure-function relations at the cellular level in biological systems as a means to better target drug development (such as for COVID-19) as well as create new biomimics, beyond mutagenesis, to harness biology in new ways.

Electrochemistry constitutes a significant fraction of the UK and global economy and RUEDI could be used to directly observe the molecular origins of the all-important electrical double layer in electrochemical systems and from it help develop new and improved energy storage systems.

Experiments to determine the fundamental mechanisms leading to functionality in catalysts, enabling a more rational hunt for new catalysts and providing the impetus for developing new photocatalysts that will drive future renewable energy sources.

The interplay between phonon and electron oscillations would also be directly observable and controllable, allowing RUEDI to uniquely probe new concepts in plasmonics and strongly coupled systems for electronic devices, sensors, probes and detectors that could transform the use of nanotechnology.

Experiments at the frontiers of spatial and temporal resolution using in-situ cells will permit a new fundamental understanding of how materials and devices perform under extremes of temperature, pressure, field and environment.

The fundamental structure-function relationships that the facility can uncover directly impact the EPSRC priorities of 21st Century Products, Digital Manufacturing, Sustainable Industries and New Industrial Systems. The RUEDI facility would also have direct impact on numerous research themes defined by EPSRC for growth, such as biophysics and soft matter physics, chemical biology and biological chemistry, energy storage, materials for energy applications, RF and microwave devices, and statistics and applied probability. The RUEDI imaging facility will be unique in the UK (and globally), and produce relativistic electron bunches at energies up to 5 MeV, at a repetition rate of 100 Hz. It is envisaged that each bunch contains up to 107 electrons, with the length of each bunch less than 100 fs. This provides enough electrons for diffraction patterns and images in a single-shot, with bunches short enough to resolve structural change on the timescale of biochemical processes. The key advantages in using relativistic electrons, as compared to the more common ~100-300 keV electron energies, are higher penetration depth and reduced space-charge effects, leading to shorter bunch lengths, greater transverse coherence, and more electrons per pulse, thereby enabling clear single-shot images to be observed. RUEDI therefore allows the evolution of structural changes in materials to be observed through time-resolved experiments. In this manner, this facility would be unique by allowing the all-important function of a material to be determined, rather than simply its static structure.

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