EPSRC Core Equipment Award 2020: University of Warwick

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Vice Chancellors Office


Our ability to rapidly and routinely obtain information about the composition, structure, morphology and function of molecules, materials and devices produced in the laboratory, or by nature, is central to many advances and breakthroughs in the Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS). To enable this to happen effectively, it is vital to have low-barrier access to both cutting edge instrumentation and to scalable computational resource for simulation, modelling and data processing. The funds requested in this proposal will provide new multi-user equipment, and add improvements and lifetime to existing equipment, within our Polymer Characterisation, Scientific Computing, Spectroscopy and X-ray Diffraction Research Technology Platforms (RTPs), and the Warwick Centre for Ultrafast Spectroscopy (WCUS), to ensure that researchers at the University of Warwick (UW) have access to a state-of-the-art infrastructure for EPS. UW's long-term excellence in EPS is firmly rooted in strategic investment in equipment, infrastructure, people and training. The equipment requested includes:

1. State of the art thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) machines to complement our recent investment in the thermal analysis suite in the Polymer Characterisation RTP. These techniques helps understanding of materials thermal properties, such as temperature of decomposition.

2. Upgrade of continuous wave Electron Paramagnetic Resonance (CW-EPR) spectrometer in our Spectroscopy RTP. CW-EPR allows direct detection of paramagnetic species like free radicals, essential for understanding in a range of applications.

3. Replacement gas chamber to enable in situ experiments on powder X-ray diffractometers (XRD) in our X-ray Diffraction RTP. This enables measurements that mimic the environments in which materials are used or prepared.

4. Taskfarm servers for our Scientific Computing RTP to support small scale work that is unsuitable for our recent significant investment in high performance computing (HPC) clusters and machine room. This equipment enables small scale but long running calculations.

5. Upgrade of photoluminescence spectrometer to include nanosecond time resolved capabilities into the near infrared for WCUS. This method allows non-contact study of the electronic and optical properties of materials.

The proposed equipment will be used to facilitate and strengthen a wide range of EPS research at UW that falls within EPSRC's strategic remit and aligns to the UW research strategy. The new equipment will underpin the research of >65 academic groups from Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science and WMG, working in diverse fields, including: catalysis, energy materials, manufacturing, medical imaging, nanoparticles, nanocomposites, polymer materials, automotive and efficient transport, personal care and hygiene, agroscience/food security, power electronics, semiconductors, structural engineering and data science. Often this research is carried out in interdisciplinary teams from two or more of the science departments.

This investment will also be fundamental to facilitating the training of many students, and early career researchers. Our RTPs have well established programmes of user training and support from our dedicated RTProfs, and these are also offered to external academics and many industry partners. UW is committed to ensuring that the equipment requested is effectively managed and maintained, and that usage is maximised. Access will be advertised internally electronically and via the facility webpages and externally through Warwick Scientific Services. In addition, access to the equipment and expertise provided by our RTProfs will be disseminated nationally as part of the EPSRC funded Warwick Analytical Science Centre and across Midlands Innovation (MI) as part of the 'Technician Led Equipment Sharing' strand of TALENT, funded by Research England.


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