New facility to focus on materials | University of Oxford
The new I14 beamline and electron microscopy centre taking shape at Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron science facility, on the Harwell Oxford Campus in Oxfordshire
The new I14 beamline and electron microscopy centre taking shape at Diamond Light Source, the UK’s national synchrotron science facility, on the Harwell Oxford Campus in Oxfordshire
Photo: Diamond Light Source

New facility to focus on materials

A collaboration between Oxford University, Diamond Light Source, and Johnson Matthey will create a world-class materials characterisation facility at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, Oxfordshire.

This site is close to both Oxford University and Johnson Matthey's Sonning Common Research laboratories and is home to Diamond, the UK's synchrotron science facility. As part of Diamond's pioneering hard X-ray nanoprobe beamline (I14) and electron microscopy centre, Johnson Matthey and Oxford University will each contribute cutting-edge microscopes from JEOL to support research in the physical sciences. These microscopes will complement two other advanced electron microscopes that will also be built at the new centre as part of a National Facility for Cryo-Electron Microscopy.

The new centre will offer unrivalled facilities for research across the biological and physical sciences. The hard X-ray nanoprobe will take structural analysis with detailed element mapping to the highest spatial X-ray resolution available anywhere in the world. Oxford University will bring a unique JEOL 300kV electron microscope dedicated to atomic scale imaging at world-leading resolution and Johnson Matthey will install a world-leading JEOL double-EDX and EELS capable microscope dedicated to chemical analysis with atomic scale resolution. Collaborations between Johnson Matthey, Oxford University and Diamond's I14 beamline will facilitate the interchange of samples between these systems and enable analyses at near-duty catalytic conditions to observe the influence of chemical and thermal challenges on material structure. 

Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, said: 'Bringing together these powerful instruments in one place will be hugely beneficial to researchers, both in academia and industry, who are studying materials at the atomic scale. This new facility could lead to advances in many exciting research areas including graphene technology and the development of cleaner, greener fuels.'

Professor Angus Kirkland, of Oxford University's Department of Materials, said: 'This facility will provide a world class capability for materials imaging and our collaboration with Johnson Matthey will bring real problems into focus and pose new questions. The combination of the two electron microscopes with the Nanoprobe will deliver unique insights and Diamond will provide the best possible environment to enable scientific interaction.'

Dr Elizabeth Rowsell, Director, Johnson Matthey Technology Centre, said: 'This is an exciting development for Johnson Matthey research, we chose to bring our investment to Diamond’s I14 beamline to further strengthen our extensive collaborations in advanced characterisation.'

Mr Koichi Fukuyama, Director JEOL Europe, said: 'This is a wonderful opportunity for JEOL and we are excited to be supporting the advanced characterisation research facilities that are being planned for the benefit of both academic and industrial scientists from the UK and beyond.'

Professor Andrew Harrison, CEO Diamond Light Source, said: 'We welcome closer engagement with UK companies such as JM. This development is part of a more general trend to develop strategic partnerships with industry and university, often underpinned by investment in complementary equipment or people, to exploit more fully our synchrotron facilities.'

The I14 hard X-ray nanoprobe beamline will be the third of four beamlines at Diamond that need to extend beyond the iconic silver doughnut shaped building due to the type of experiments it will enable scientists to carry out. The beamline will provide a state of the art facility in which a focused X-ray spot is positioned or scanned over a sample. Samples under investigation will include a wide range of organic and inorganic materials. The potential applications are extremely varied and include materials science, in areas such as new polymers, magnetic and nano-structured materials. Earth and environmental science and geochemistry, with potential research topics including aerosols, minerals, sediments, soils and bio-remediation. The beamline and associated microscopy facilities will also be able to investigate new energy sources and area of biological, biotechnological and biomedical science such as new biomaterials and the elemental imaging of cells. The beamline, which will come online in Spring 2017, will be a dedicated facility for micro-nano small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and nanoscale microscopy.

Complementing the beamline information, the electron microscopes, through EDX, EELS, atomic scale imaging and electron diffraction, show the identity, ordering and chemical state of atoms in the sample. The potential of today's advanced materials depends upon the structures and properties that arise from collections of atoms interacting in their local environment. In automotive emissions control catalysts, fuel cells, chemical process technology and battery materials the collections of atoms are the catalytically active sites and characterising those leads to better understanding and their improved design. At greater length scales, framework materials such as graphene, zeolites or complex ceramics provide controlled transmission of active effects from clusters of atoms to greater length scale properties. The expertise and equipment that Johnson Matthey, Oxford and Diamond bring together will provide the nucleus for the community to come together and address important future challenges.

Source: Diamond (full news release)

Visiting the I14 beamline and electron microscopy centre site at Diamond: L/R: Den Jones, Johnson Matthey Group Finance Director, Andrew Harrison, CEO of Diamond Light Source, Angus Kirkland, Professor of Materials, University of Oxford, Robert MacLeod, CVisiting the I14 beamline and electron microscopy centre site at Diamond: L/R: Den Jones, Johnson Matthey Group Finance Director, Andrew Harrison, CEO of Diamond Light Source, Angus Kirkland, Professor of Materials, University of Oxford, Robert MacLeod, Chief Executive, Johnson Matthey
Photo: Diamond