EPSRC Capital Award for Core Equipment

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: University of York


An Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) detector for the Scanning Electron Microscope and a MultiPrep high-precision polishing system to support electron microscopy will be purchased for the the York-JEOL Nanocentre. A 2D x-ray detector will be purchased to upgrade an existing multi-user XRD system housed within the Department of Physics, and an argon glove box will be purchased and located within the Department of Chemistry. The equipment funded through this proposal will enable advances in fundamental understanding of the structure and functionality of materials and will support key EPSRC disciplines including the interdisciplinary capabilities and infrastructure of the York Nanocentre, and specifically build on the strengths of York in condensed matter physics, inorganic materials and materials for energy. Research will be supported in a number of applications including, battery technology, aerospace, automotive, nuclear, solar cells, and biomedical.

Planned Impact

Fundamental research into functional materials has delivered enormous technological impact over the last century. Such materials offer the prospect of high performance, multi-functionality and outstanding energy-efficiency in information storage, processing and energy capture. The development, for example, of ferromagnetic thin films and piezoelectrics has resulted in applications such as non-volatile memory, capacitors and ferroelectric field effect transistors, pressure/motion sensors, gyroscopes, ink jet print heads, loudspeakers, and headphones to name but a few. Magnetoelectric materials offer new potential long-term impact by enabling new low energy information storage and processing technologies, of importance in the context of predicted growth in global energy use associated with the internet of things (IoT), server farms, and increasing demand for low power portable electronics. Some of these functional materials and applications are already multi-billion pound markets. For example, the global piezoelectric devices market was valued at $19 billion in 2014 and is expected to grow to $27 billion by 2020; the BaTiO3 multilayer ceramic capacitor market currently covers ~ 2 trillion units per year and equates to a multi-billion dollar industry.

The equipment funded through this proposal will enable advances in fundamental understanding of the structure and functionality of materials. As such we anticipate that sizeable economic impacts arising from research using this equipment in fields such as materials for solar energy, IT technologies, energy efficient devices, rechargeable batteries, and advances using spintronics. These will be delivered via the extensive collaborative links the University of York shares with companies such as Croda, Seagate, Toshiba, Cristal, Cogent, Johnson Matthey, and Lucite. In the longer term, such developments will have substantial environmental and social / health benefits.

In the shorter term, beneficiaries of this project will include the Early Career Research community, members of which will be able to grow their skills, capabilities and knowledge through the use of this equipment. This will include researchers at York but also the wider user base of academic and non-academic stakeholders that use York facilities, for example at the York-JEOL Nanocentre.

The findings obtained using this equipment will also form a key component of York's public engagement work, and as such will increase public understanding of, and interest in, science. This will be achieved at two levels: that of the 'interested amateur' audience engaged via open public events (for which a general increase in knowledge and understanding will be the main impact), and schools audiences (where an increase in knowledge and interest might be expected to lead to wider changes in decision making, for example around Further and Higher Education subject choices).


10 25 50