Durham University's EPSRC Core Equipment Award 2020

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Vice Chancellor's Office


In order to improve the research infrastructure within Durham four items of equipment will be purchased, as follows:

i) Laser Scanning Confocal Microscope; A state of the art confocal microscope enables three dimensional images samples to be recorded with spatial resolutions to around 100nm. They are widely used within the life sciences but less common in the physical sciences. The microscope requested here will primarily be used for the examination of "soft matter" such as lipid and polymeric membranes, vesicles, 3D gel formulations, encapsulation of cells, etc.
ii) Fluorescent addition to an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM); An atomic force microscope uses a probe very close to the surface of the sample to image with nanometer resolution. However, the field of view is limited and the imaging over a larger area can be slow and it can also be difficult to find your exact position within the sample. The addition of conventional fluorescence microscopy to an AFM enables the user to observe what is happening at both the nano-meter and micron scale simultaneously, obtaining significantly greater understanding of the physical and chemical processes taking place. The research here is going to be focused on transport across membranes to help provide a physical understanding of some very basic processes that take place within cells.
iii) Glovebox and evaporator; A future direction for many electronic devices is through the use of "printable devices". Here the materials in the electronics can be fluid based and printed but many of these materials, until the device is sealed, can be affected by water vapour and oxygen. Thus, the devices need to be prepared in a water and oxygen free environment as provided by the requested glovebox. Electrical contacts need to be evaporated onto such devices also in a controlled environment and this item of equipment enables this to take place in such a clean, dry and oxygen deprived setting.
iv) Tunable Diode Lasers; Lasers with a very precisely controlled wavelength are required to trap small clouds of atoms or molecules. By controlling the wavelength very carefully it is possible to reduce the movement and energy states of the atoms. These prepared atoms then form the starting point for a wide range of physics experiments which for the basis of advances in quantum technology and also provide the potential for very sensitive detectors of a range of physical properties.


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