Welcome to the Nanoscale Physics Research Laboratory

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The Nanoscale Physics Research Laboratory was established in 1994 - the first centre for nanoscience in the UK - and formally opened in the Physics East building in May 1996 by Professor Sir John Cadogan FRS. The second phase of the Lab, the Nanoscale Science Facility, was opened in May 2004 by Professor Sir Michael Pepper FRS.

The NPRL now encompasses a flourishing range of both fundamental and applied research programs. An interdisciplinary and international approach is central to the ethos of the Lab. Collaborations with other departments (Chemistry, Environmental Research, etc) are enhanced by their proximity on campus, while the Lab sustains international research collaborations with a whole series of partners in Europe and worldwide.

The NPRL is also committed to the transfer of new concepts and technological innovations from the research lab into industry, including our spin-out companies, creating new opportunities for sustainable economic development.

Recent News


Someone’s got to do it!
Friday 24 October 2014

A remarkable summer of conferences, which began with CSI in Italy and proceeded through Montreal and the west coast of Japan, finished with the DIET meeting in Asilomar on the Monterey peninsular in California last week. The conference site was set amongst the sand dunes leading to the long, white beach, the wild spirit of which is evocatively captured by Brenda Bury-Polanyi’s original painting [so many thanks!]. Well, as the saying goes, someone’s got to do it. Oh, and there was a great scientific program too…

NPRL Reunion in New York
Friday 20 June 2014
(from our roving correspondents)

Former NPRL PhD students Mi Yeon Song and Emma Graham (nee Catton) had a surprise reunion in Washington D.C. yesterday. Mi Yeon is currently based in Seoul where she works at Hyundai Motor Group as a Senior Research Engineer developing green energy for automobiles. She was out in Washington D.C. attending a Nano Tech/Expo conference for a week. Emma now works as a UK and European patent attorney for Mewburn Ellis LLP in London. She was also in Washington D.C., for just a week, as part of a three month secondment to a US law firm. A Facebook post of the White House led to the former NPRL ladies discovering that they were in the same place at the same time, so they managed to arrange a quick catch up lunch to reminisce about the good old days in the Lab! They had a capital time (ha ha), despite the traffic...
CSI Varese

CSI Varese
Monday 9 June 2014

The 3rd Cluster-Surface Interactions (CSI) conference convened in Varese, north of Milan, last week. Richard, Chair of the steering committee, is pictured with Paolo Milani (conference Chair and pioneer of the use of cluster-generated materials in neuro-surgery) and Ib Chorkendorff (who has adopted the Birmingham cluster source to discover new alloy catalysts for energy storage) outside the Michelin star restaurant where the conference dinner was held (the trials of science!). The conference painted an optimistic picture of technical progress in cluster deposition and important developments in materials discovery. Three NPRL grad students gave posters. In 2016 CSI heads to the USA (but possibly not New York…).


Controlling The Atomic Structure of Size-Selected Gold Nanoparticles
Wednesday 28 May 2014

Controlling the size of nanoparticles is not enough. Even size-selected clusters come in different flavours – they show different atomic arrangements. Now Simon Plant and Lu Cao have demonstrated a new level of mastery over the proportions of the different atomic structures of Au923 clusters. By careful control of the cluster source parameters they were able to eliminate the icosahedra. The work is published in JACS and highlighted in Spotlight. Of course it also prompts the next challenge - to prepare pure samples of single isomers, which would allow catalytic behavior to be studied for a set cluster size as a function of the atomic arrangement…onwards and upwards!

LSW logo

Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales
Monday 14 April 2014

Richard has been elected one of 43 new Fellows of the Learned Society of Wales. The Society, whose Patron is the Prince of Wales, was established in 2010 and has a similar scope to the Royal Society of Edinburgh. It aims to "promote the advancement of learning and scholarship" and "celebrate excellence in all of the scholarly disciplines". NPRL News asked Richard for a comment: "As a scholar from Swansea I'm delighted to be elected to this Fellowship; by a remarkable coincidence my brother Stephen (a medic at Cardiff) has been elected in the same list, so my Mum is currently a very happy lady". http://learnedsocietywales.ac.uk/node/530

Go West, Young Men!
Thursday 29 March 2014

March found intrepid NPRL researchers Andreas Frommhold and Alex Robinson soaking up the sun outside the Advanced Light Source at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. The visit was notable since two different NPRL experiments were running in two different centres at the famous LBL site. Andreas was testing the EUV behavior of our novel molecular resists, developed with Irresistible Materials, at the ALS (courtesy of Sematech), while Alex was demonstrating a novel hardmask in the Molecular Foundry, in collaboration with Delia Milliron. A lesson? For the future of functional nanomaterials, international collaboration is key.

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