South of England Analytical Electron Microscope [ATEM]

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Materials


The UK has for many years held a leading position and pioneered the use of transmission electron microscopy in the study of every class of engineering material. This proposal is to install a state-of-the-art fast acquisition and high-throughput analytical transmission electron microscope (ATEM) as a regional research facility for a group of universities in the South of England: Oxford, Bristol, Southampton, Exeter, Surrey, and Bath. Southampton and Bath Universities are founder members of the EPSRC-funded UK HE Facilities and Equipment Sharing Network Uniquip, and this application embraces the network aims to increase the visibility of and access to research equipment within and between institutions.

Supported by a strong local infrastructure in Oxford, the instrument will allow us to address key analytical problems and generate greater impact in projects of strategic importance in the research groups of 23 academic staff in the 6 partner universities, working on projects with >20 industrial partners. The specific theme areas we have selected to work on will use the ATEM to contribute to the development of novel materials across a wide range of engineering themes, including power generation, semiconductor materials, nanotechnology and catalysis, and to assist UK industry to maintain competitiveness and grow market share.

Planned Impact

The primary purpose of this new shared instrument is to enable and accelerate a broad portfolio of research projects, so much of the intended impact will be captured in the traditional manner - excellent papers in highly respected international journals and presentations at the major specialist conferences. The applicant team from the 3 partner and 3 associate universities have an excellent track record of publication and dissemination with co-authors in UK and international industry as well as many other UK HEIs, and we are confident that the new instrument will expand the visibility and impact of UK analytical microscopy and the project areas that it supports.

In addition:

[1] It is our intention throughout the project to look for new scientific partners - especially in the South and South West - who can bring exciting new experiments to the new instrument. We are confident that there will be many opportunities to expand the user base.

[2] A central feature of our vision for the new instrument is that it will help the university partners deliver important new results and understanding to our industrial collaborators. This is not an activity that will have to be built up from scratch as the investigators already hold a substantial portfolio of projects funded by industry, but the range, depth and significance of the output on problems that are both scientifically extremely challenging and of direct and immediate commercial relevance will be substantially increased by the availability of a genuinely state-of-the-art machine.

We propose a number of key performance indicators (KPIs) to enable the Steering Board to evaluate the impact of the ATEM and to provide evidence for redefining during the project the management strategies for the instrument.
The number of publications and presentations of research that makes use of the instrument.
The number of user days provided by the instrument
Instrument uptime.
The number of new users trained on the instrument.

These KPIs will be evaluated on a quarterly basis, and reviewed by the Steering Board who will then recommend to the Allocation Panel changes in emphasis or direction in work scheduled on the ATEM.


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publication icon
Ellaby TH (2018) Ideal vs real: Simulated annealing of experimentally derived and geometric platinum nanoparticles. in Journal of physics. Condensed matter : an Institute of Physics journal