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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/X030083/1
Title: An Electron Diffractometer for Nanomaterial Structure Characterisation
Principal Investigator: Forgan, Professor RS
Other Investigators:
Wilson, Dr C
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: School of Chemistry
Organisation: University of Glasgow
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 February 2023 Ends: 31 January 2025 Value (£): 1,856,858
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
22 Nov 2022 EPSRC Strategic Equipment Interview Panel November 2022 - Panel 1 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Determination of how atoms are precisely arranged within a crystal is essential for scientists to understand the properties of a material, be it a drug, part of an electrical device, or even a component of a much larger ensemble. For a number of years, X-ray diffraction has been the gold standard, where crystals of the target material are hit with an X-ray beam, and analysis of the resulting diffraction of the X-rays allows the structure to be determined. This technique has underpinned famous scientific breakthroughs such as understanding the structure of penicillin, the first antibiotic, and the DNA double helix, both of which were achieved in the UK. However, despite huge advances in X-ray crystallography it still requires crystals around 10 microns in size, which is approximately the diameter of a water droplet in a cloud. As such, only certain materials can be studied by this technique, and often not in the form they will used, meaning there is a major gap in our capability for examining materials with particle sizes smaller than this.

In this project, we propose to purchase one of the world's first commercial electron diffractometers. This state-of-the-art technique uses diffraction of electrons instead of X-rays, and means much smaller samples can be analysed, including so-called nanomaterials. Electron diffraction can be used to analyse samples that are approximately 200 times smaller than X-ray diffraction, hugely expanding the scope of materials which can be structurally characterised. As such, widespread uptake of electron diffraction will result in a genuine step-change in how we make and understand materials.

We will install the diffractometer in the University of Glasgow's Analytical Suite, alongside other equipment that is used to determine the structure of materials, to generate a comprehensive regional facility with state-of-the-art expertise and infrastructure. The facility will serve a wide range of scientists at Glasgow and at other universities and companies across northern UK. We will work closely with existing consortia of experts in diffraction, such as the National Crystallography Service, to ensure that the needs of the UK scientific community are analysed and strategically served through provision of appropriate expertise, equipment, infrastructure, and support. In doing so, we will ensure the UK remains at the forefront of materials science and maintains its position as a world-leader in diffraction, and stimulate a whole range of new research projects in diverse areas such as pharmaceutical manufacturing and ultramodern energy materials, to benefit the UK economy and overall research and innovation strategy.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.gla.ac.uk