Strategic investment in Cardiff University's functional material capabilities

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Sch of Psychology


Cardiff University will use the EPSRC's Capital Award allocation to establish two new suites of multi-user equipment, as part of a broader strategy to support the development and maintenance of its world class laboratories. Such laboratory facilities are a key component of the University strategy to support high quality research and ensure the long-term competitiveness of its research community. This application describes the need for a high-speed scanning probe microscope (SPM) and a multi-physical manufacturing suite (MPM). The two new facilities complement one another and will enable researchers to leverage significant value when used alongside existing university hardware. These facilities will be utilised predominantly by the Cardiff Materials Research Network (CMRN) (>150 researchers), with many already expressing strong interest. This work spans the four EPSRC themes, meaning this investment will create a multitude of opportunities to conduct world-class research.

Modest investment in the MPM suite will now enable meso- (0.1+ mm) and macro- (1+ mm) scale fabrication of novel materials, twinning complex structural geometries with embedded functionality. Combined with our existing computational expertise and polymer characterisation facilities, this will unlock new opportunities aligned to EPSRC's Manufacturing the Future and Healthcare Technologies themes. Similarly, the SPM will allow detailed characterisation of 3D printed materials/composites under different conditions, allowing nanoscale measurements to be correlated with large-scale macroscopic properties, a significant advancement only achievable by the combination of our expertise and this new suite. The SPM will also enable physicists and materials researchers to measure the electrical, magnetic and thermal nanoscale properties of materials produced in research groups spanning the university and GW4.

This will create new opportunities for wider industrial engagement, translating academic concepts to real-world solutions. This application also builds on EPSRC investment in Advanced Manufacturing, Cardiff Catalysis Institute and responsive mode grants in magnetic materials / diamond materials (EP/R009147/1, EP/P006973/1, EP/S024441/1, EP/P00945X/1).

Training and development of staff from a broad cross-section of academic disciplines is a key component of this proposal and essential to the long-term sustainability of the equipment. Ladak is a highly experienced SPM user who will have overall responsibility for coordinating training in partnership with a specialist technician. The University already has numerous EPSRC funded researchers, including several ECRs, that will be trained in the use of a modern, high-speed SPM for measuring a wide range of material properties. The School of Engineering's Additive Manufacturing Laboratories also has a highly experienced AM technician who will be responsible for training staff and supporting the development of new multi-disciplinary proposals.

The University will assess the success of this investment by way of its well-established continual research monitoring processes, focussing on specific deliverables i.e. 1) Has the investment significantly enhanced the cross-disciplinary research environment, including new EPSRC-aligned research projects and research users? 2) Has the investment generated significant research output, such as high-quality publications with measurable societal impact? 3) Has the investment resulted in the capture of significant additional external funding to support such cross-disciplinary research? Users will be logged and data collected on a quarterly basis via established and new communications channels, enabling CoIs to demonstrate this investment has leveraged significant scientific benefit.


10 25 50