Experimental Equipment Call

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


The research activity that will be supported by this proposal supports a wide range of advanced materials research and will focus on seven key areas including:
*High Speed Additive Manufacturing
*Fabrication and Characterisation of Functional Molecular Films
*New Frontiers in Material Characterisation
*Nuclear Materials
*Advanced Nanomaterials and Devices
*Polymer Science, Soft Matter and Colloids
*Functional Property Characterisation

Planned Impact

The experimental equipment detailed in this proposal will deliver a range of benefits to the beneficiaries outlined below:

Firstly, industrial partners (both new and with whom the University already maintains close and productive relationships) will benefit from direct access to otherwise unobtainable cutting-edge equipment, as well as to the outputs/results of research conducted Sheffield academics and third parties on this equipment. This is expected to: offer greater design freedom for product designers and manufacturers by eliminating prohibitive up front tooling costs; remove the key barriers to wider adoption of additive manufacturing, i.e. cost and speed of production; generate new IP and new materials for fields such as energy, optical devices and photonic applications. The availability of this equipment is also expected to attract interest from new partners and act as a catalyst for new partnerships and collaborations.

SMEs in particular have already expressed interest in developing new types of product and optimising their quality using this new equipment, which would otherwise be beyond their reach. Among the names already interested in the commercial opportunities on offer are Attocube Systems, Helia Photonics, M2 Lasers and Toshiba Europe.

Secondly, a large number of the projects planned for the proposed equipment offer strong environmental benefits e.g. lower emissions by reducing weight in transport applications and offering digital 'transportation' of CAD files instead of transportation of products; and low-carbon technology using thin film techniques such as low-cost photovoltaics, low-energy lighting and thin-film batteries.

Care will be taken to ensure that the new equipment will also benefit students of the University at all levels but particularly at PhD and Early career levels giving them valuable practical and technical skills and experience on cutting edge machinery that are much sought after by (and of great benefit to) industrial employers.

By offering access, such as Dual Beam FIB beam time to other regional universities, the scientific and research benefits of the equipment will be shared and maximised and concrete opportunities for new collaborative and multi-disciplinary projects to foster innovation in this expanding sector will be.

The participating teams boast strong track records in communication and public engagement that will ensure that interested members of the public will be given every chance to find out more about a new and exciting field with myriad potential applications, in engaging and vivid ways.


10 25 50
Description The investment made through this award has supported the establishment of the following key equipment facilities:
* Cluster tool, including organic-semiconductor thin-film evaporation system, metals evaporation source, ebeam source for dielectric-materials deposition
* FEI Helios: A Dual Beam Focused Ion Beam Facility
* New world-class small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) instrument equipped with a liquid gallium x-ray source
* X-ray photoelectron spectrometer

The establishment of these equipment facilities supports a wide breath of innovative advanced materials research at Sheffield and beyond. The equipment continues to support a range of research projects, underpinning multiple materials science awards.
Exploitation Route The equipment funded through this call is run with a locally managed multi user equipment model allowing academics, industrial partners and key collaborators to benefit from the new capabilities and functionalities available.
Sectors Chemicals,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Energy,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Other

Description The new multidisciplinary collaborations that the equipment has led to have led to new engagements with non-academic users, for example the multinational coatings company AkzoNobel and the Cambridge based SME Eight19, and has consolidated existing collaborations, e.g. with Sellafield Ltd., the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and National Nuclear Laboratory.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Chemicals,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology
Description EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account via University of Sheffield IIKE
Amount £25,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/K503812/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2016 
End 03/2017
Description Akzo-Nobel collaboration 
Organisation AkzoNobel
Department AkzoNobel UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We plan to help our industrial partner understand and improve the development of a high value commercial product
Collaborator Contribution Materials, expertise and market access.
Impact Akzo-Nobel Marine coatings division to fund a CDT phd studentship in the area of anti-fouling research. This studentship (£40k) will start in September 2017
Start Year 2016
Description Big Solar Ltd collaboration 
Organisation Big Solar Ltd
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Sheffield have been working with back-contact groove architecture electrodes supplied by Big Solar Ltd, and have been exploring their combination with perovskite semiconductors. We have been making and testing devices, and helping Big Solar tune the electronic properties of their n and p electrode materials.
Collaborator Contribution Big solar have fabricated the back-contact electrode substrates, and have provided advice and guidance about the direction of the project.
Impact No technical outputs - it is commercially sensitive.
Start Year 2016