Lead Research Organisation: University of Liverpool
Department Name: Physics


The specific arrangements of matter at the atomic scale gives advance functional materials their unique properties. Therefore, the future in materials design relies on our ability to control nanoscale structures. To achieve this, a vital tool for material scientist is x-ray diffraction as it allows in-depth characterisation of the crystal structure.

Here we propose to establish an x-ray diffractometer dedicated to nanoscale and thin film structure with a set of capabilities which will enable material scientist to study the structural properties of polycrystalline and epitaxial films and probe the interface quality and structure which often dictates the performance and functionality of the nanoscale material. The high throughput capability offered by this equipment will play a vital role in atomic scale design of functional materials and process optimisation for integration in device. It will enable the routine measurement of phase purity, crystalline quality, thickness and roughness using non-destructive method. More advanced measurements will be used to determine epitaxial relationship and texture of the nanostructures. The materials studied have applications in renewable energy (photovoltaic, battery, thermoelectric), electronic (transparent conducting oxides, dielectrics, semiconductor alloys)

Planned Impact

The new x-ray diffraction instrument that is requested in this application underpins a large number of scientific programs. The underlying capabilities enabled by the equipment are vital for the development of advanced functional materials which have been recognised as one of the UK "Eight great technologies". The impact of the proposed equipment will be in the following areas:

(1) Economy
The non-destructive high throughput characterisation of nanostructures enabled by the proposed equipment is central to the discovery of advanced functional materials and its integration in the supply chain in surface engineering and advanced films & coatings will enable accelerated commercialisation of novel devices and lead to the development of new technologies. This will be accompanied by job creation and enhance the future competiveness of the UK industry in the field of advanced functional materials. Usage of the proposed equipment will contribute to this development through generating knowledge and intellectual property that will be exploited in this long-term development.

(2) Society
The fundamental principle behind the requested equipment, x-ray scattering, is widely used in everyday medical application. Linking large scale facilities such as synchrotron radiation sources to this physical principle will contribute in educating the wider society on the possibilities to explore the atomic scale arrangement of matter. We have a successful strategy for outreach event using the EPSRC mid-range facility XMaS with a particular focus on tackling the gender bias in Physics.

(3) Knowledge Exchange
The project will train young researchers who will acquire the necessary skills to contribute to the future economic development outlined above. These skills will include specific knowledge in x-ray scattering method as well as more generic skills such as effective communication, project and time management.


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Description The primary objective of this grant was to establish a new x-ray diffraction facility at the University of Liverpool with the procurement of a state-of-the-art instrument. The new diffractometer has been delivered and fully commissioned (see url for details) in February 2017. Users from several group across the chemistry, physics and engineering have been trained and the PI together with the School of Physical Science are piloting a new Shared Research Facility scheme based on this equipment. The facility is fully operational with more than 40 users from UoL.
Exploitation Route The primary objective as been achieved and the facility is operational. The success of the facility has led to an expansion of activity by adding XPS and powder diffraction.
Sectors Other

URL http://www.scimed.co.uk/rigaku-9kw-smartlab-xrd-installation-university-liverpool/
Description International Exchanges 2019 Cost Share
Amount £12,000 (GBP)
Funding ID IEC\R1\191040 
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2019 
End 09/2021
Description Lynette Keeney (Tyndall-UCC) 
Organisation University College Cork
Department Tyndall National Institute
Country Ireland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The x-ray suite procured in this grant was used to characterise epitaxial thin films using x-ray reflectivity, reciprocal space map and pole figure.
Collaborator Contribution The partner provided epitaxial thin films of potential room temperature multiferroic materials.
Impact None so far.
Start Year 2019
Description Phil King XRD 
Organisation University of St Andrews
Department School of Physics and Astronomy
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are assessing the quality and thickness of films grown by MBE.
Collaborator Contribution They are providing samples suitable to be measured in the diffractometer purchased with this award.
Impact This collaboration is allowing for the optimization of complex inorganic materials growth.
Start Year 2017
Description Rigaku workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact During this workshop our team was able to presents the facility which has been setup at the University of Liverpool from this award and discussions with other academics led to possible collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017