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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X013774/1
Title: National Facility for High Speed and High Temperature X-Ray Diffraction
Principal Investigator: Bowen, Dr J
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Aston Particle Technologies Ltd Bruker
Department: Faculty of Sci, Tech, Eng & Maths (STEM)
Organisation: The Open University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 November 2022 Ends: 31 October 2024 Value (£): 644,851
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Aerospace, Defence and Marine Manufacturing
Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
11 Jul 2022 EPSRC Strategic Equipment Interview Panel July 2022 - Panel 1 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Developing an understanding of the properties of functional materials is achieved via systematic analysis of their performance, typically under a range of conditions, perhaps replicating their manufacture and processing, or the environment in which they are intended to be used. The information obtained from these analyses often drive innovation, leading to new technologies which can have profound impact across society. Materials used for energy applications and for structural integrity typically experience high temperatures and rapid temperature changes. Characterising the long-term effect of sustained operation under extreme conditions, especially cyclic heating and cooling, is a challenging measurement goal. Similarly, the processing and manufacture of metals, alloys, polymers, ceramics, and pharmaceuticals often involves changes in temperature and changes of phase including melting and freezing, in certain cases with crystallisation, the morphology of which may determine the usefulness - or otherwise - of the material in its final form.

There is currently a critical lack of technical capability for measuring the structural properties of materials across a large temperature range; this is particularly true for temperatures in excess of 1000 oC. Further, the ability to rapidly measure changes in material properties at lower temperatures, with high resolution, is another research need which is poorly catered for. The inability to obtain important information under challenging measurement conditions prevents further breakthroughs and innovations in certain technology areas that are vital to the UK's long-term interests.

The National Facility for High Speed and High Temperature X-Ray Diffraction at the Open University (OU) will provide the UK with a unique and timely facility enabling pioneering materials characterisation measurements for engineers, chemists, physicists, and materials scientists. It will facilitate in delivering transformative research programmes under the EPSRC themes of Energy, Engineering, Global Uncertainties, Healthcare Technologies, Manufacturing the Future, Physical Sciences, Quantum Technologies, and Research Infrastructure - achieved through the provision of remotely accessible instrumentation capable of measuring structural changes in materials over large temperature ranges and at high speed.

The diverse prospective user community have already expressed their overwhelming support for this facility, demonstrating the scientific need which exists across the UK. This facility will benefit a significant breadth of high-quality UK engineering and physical sciences research. The facility will become a national hub for non-ambient materials characterisation, where fundamental insights into the unique properties of high-value, functional materials and their associated technologies can be explored. The facility will be a place where best practise can be shared, new collaborations will be established, and innovative, transformative projects will be realised. For some research groups it will serve as a 'Gateway to the Synchrotrons', yielding data that supports applications to those facilities, increasing their competitiveness. Significant impact in research relating to the environment, healthcare, and high-value materials is expected, followed by positive economic impact over the coming decades via the technologies which will be developed as a result of the new insights achieved.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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