SPIN-Lab

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Materials

Abstract

This proposal will develop a core laboratory that brings together the critical research tools for the characterisation of isolated and coupled spins in a well-managed hub: SPIN-Lab. This will be achieve through the upgrade of exiting tools together with the purchase of state-of-the art instruments to replace ageing or oversubscribed facilities. Therefore, we will implement a coherent vision centred on a combination of techniques that is not usually prioritised in a single institution, and that will be unique in the UK. Ultimately SPIN-Lab will be positioned as a leading national centre for magnetism research, supported by a research officer and managed by a board including members from Materials, Physics, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Life Sciences and Chemical Engineering. The current user base is over 50 investigators, spanning three faculties, at Imperial alone, and we will work closely with London-based institutions via for example the London Centre for Nanotechnology. The facility will be open to external users who will amount to 20% of the usage.

Key research tools include:
(a) a state-of-the-art SQUID-based Quantum Design Magnetic Properties Measurement System (MPMS-3) that will perform ultra-high sensitivity magnetic measurements in a range of conditions such as under photoexcitation, at high pressure, and in alternating fields.
(b) A state-of-the-art continuous wave electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectrometer coupled with a laser.
(c) Upgrades to ensure sustainability of existing tools by implementing cryogen-free operation, as well as extending functionality to include ferromagnetic resonance, magnetic force microscopy, solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance and low temperature Hall probe.

Our research will initially be applied to the following grand challenges: (1) Engineering novel solutions: Plastic electronics, catalysis, batteries, solar fuels; (2) Health and well-being: Hyperthermia and magnetic sensing; (3) Leading the data revolution: Spintronics and the Maser; (4) Discovery and the natural world: Natural magnetism, photosynthesis, photochemistry.

Planned Impact

The study and implementation of spins has led to game-changing scientific and technological breakthroughs, ranging from the understanding of biological processes to the development of the modern computer. Therefore, the setup of a facility centred on the characterisation of spin-based properties will have far-reaching impact on fundamental knowledge, society and the economy - and our brandname, SPIN-Lab, will ensure direct association of our results with capital EPSRC investment. The combination of optical excitation with the two main characterisation tools of this proposal is highly unique and will ensure that we can capitalise on the wealth of research and development in optics and optoelectronics in which the UK already has a leading role, for example. SPIN-Lab will underpin research in materials science, physics, chemistry, life sciences and medicine via the study of e.g. molecular magnetism, solar cells, spintronics, catalysis, biomimetics, natural nanomagnetism and energy materials. It will relate to society by addressing EPSRC-aligned grand challenges in Energy, the Digital Economy, Healthcare Technologies, Quantum Technologies and Manufacturing the Future.

The research underpins at least six CDTs housed at Imperial, as well as the groups of over 50 primary users in the host institution. It will therefore impact on people, addressing the need to train the next generation of engineers and scientists. Impact will be further facilitated by the relative ease of use of most research tools, implying that the equipment can be used as part of graduate courses. We will further extend impact by opening up the facility to a wider network of external users that will amount to 20% of the allocated time on the instruments.

Benefits will extend to our industry partners in oil and gas (BP and Shell - understanding of catalytic processes and of carbonaceous deposits), manufacturing of chemicals and materials (BASF, Johnson Matthey, Element 6 - characterisation and optimisation of materials), thin film fabrication (Kurt J. Lesker - new research directions for thin films), metrology (Bruker, Asylum Research - instrument development) and Technology (LG Displays, Litron Lasers - new applications of optics coupled with spins). Conversely we will benefit from their advice in scoping further directions and key research questions.
IP will be managed using Imperial College's well-established route for technology translation and IP exploitation via Imperial Innovations, a technology transfer company founded by Imperial in 1986 and now a PLC with a total of over £200m private sector fundraising for investment in technology and healthcare. External users coming via the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) will make similar use of, for example, UCL Enterprise and Kings Business and Innovation. The facility will be fully open to industrial users with Research Officer support and the ability for the user to retain all IP (such users will be required to pay full FEC). In the case of longer-term projects with Imperial academics, partnership agreements will be developed with the Imperial Research Office.

We will disseminate our impact trough the usual routes for publication and presentations, and in addition will set up a website as a repository for output and resource for users. We will hold a one-day workshop open to the UK community, including stakeholders in academia, industry and medicine, at the end of our grant, and annually thereafter. Imperial and the LCN has an active outreach and communications programme, so our results can be publicised to the wider public.

Spin is a key feature of major funding programmes, such as for example the 1 billion euro "Quantum Manifesto". We will use our positions on national and international boards to steer research directions and be included in relevant initiatives.

Publications

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Description SPIN-Lab has provided impact to the wider academic community, the public and industry through the organisation of outreach events, in particular the SPIN-Lab stall at the Imperial Festival. This will ensure maximum awareness of the lab capabilities to grow the user base, and to inform the public about the outcomes of our research. The lab has also helped build a community of academics, researchers and students who share an interest in spin-based science, and sparked new collaborations across the institution and beyond.
 
Description Imperial Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact SPIN-Lab held a stall at the Imperial Festival, an annual event which reaches up to 15000 members of the public from all ages and backgrounds. The stall included interactive demonstrations centered on the concepts of magnetism/spin and posters showcasing our research.
The activity ran over two days, raised awareness/understanding of spin science/engineering and established contacts with potential academic/industrial collaborators.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
URL https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/179534/spin-lab-imperial-festival/