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New electron microscope to streamline research

The department has secured a grant of £1.9 million from the EPSRC to purchase a new transmission electron microscope (TEM).

The EPSRC scheme, for the support of multi-user equipment, offered up to £2 million for instrumentation that appeals to a wide range of users. A TEM was chosen because our existing transmission electron microscope is approaching the end of its life, and a new one will be useful not only in the Department of Chemistry but also to groups from a lot of different departments with varying research interests.

Dr Andrew Wheatley, who headed the department’s application said: “We could have bid for an array of items adding up to £2 million but we urgently needed the microscope. We also had support from other departments, including Materials, Chemical Engineering, Biochemistry, the Sainsbury Laboratory and Architecture.”

The new instrument will help prevent research bottlenecks. Andrew said: “People often find they can’t get rapid access to machines like the one we’re going to buy. And that’s a problem. Our current TEM is approaching 20-years-old and wasn’t designed for the materials portfolio that the department has now. There are high-end microscopes available in the University, which are good for the very detailed analysis of samples but they’re in great demand, so only a small number of really good samples are looked at in this way.”

On the new TEM, researchers will be able to take a quick look at a lot of samples to determine which are the best options for further study. This will allow people to streamline their research. Andrew added: “We also hope it will be available to people outside the University, in industry as well as other educational establishments.”

The microscope is expected to be commissioned by mid 2018 and will be located at Lensfield Road where its running will be overseen by our in-house microscopist, Dr. Heather Greer.