Press Releases

The following is a list of press releases which are composed of grant summaries:

Nanoscale Physics Research Centre

The Nanoscale Physics Research Laboratory has been established in the School of Physics and Space Research of the University of Birmingham following the appointment of Professor Richard E Palmer to the Chair of Experimental Physics from October 1994. The goal of the new Laboratory is to advance the frontiers of the physics, chemistry and technology of nanometre-scale structures, devices and processes.

The establishment of the Laboratory represents a major investment (£1.3 million) by the University of Birmingham in an area widely regarded both as a frontier of science and as a foundation for the optical, electrical and chemical technologies of the 21st century. This investment has been complemented by a grant of £200k from the Wolfson Foundation to establish the Wolfson Laboratory for Surface Modification, which is part of the Nanoscale Physics Research Laboratory. Professor Palmer's group has also established a partnership with ten regional companies to set up a regional Centre for Scientific Instruments in the School, supported by a major grant (£560k) from the European Regional Development Fund. The Centre will support scientific developments (e.g. in optics, sensors, thin films and scanning probe microscopy) in the School and in the regional industrial base, and will provide an exploitation route for novel instruments.

European strategy for the regeneration of the industrial base of the West Midlands envisages a dual approach: (1) modernisation of the region's traditional industrial base; (2) diversification of the industrial base via exploitation of new products and processes, especially those with high added value. The latter objective requires a long term strategy to create an intellectual, technical and social infrastructure which will stimulate (a) inward investment, (b) relocation of high technology enterprise, (c) generation of new SME's via spin-off from R&D establishments, notably the Universities, and (d) support for local SME's operating at the technological frontiers. The foundation of the Nanoscale Physics Research Laboratory provides the West Midlands with a new technical and intellectual resource in the field of nanoscience, regarded as a key driver of "21st century technology".

Physics and Technology of Clusters and Nanostructures
Apr 1996 - Apr 1999
The British Council

The purpose of this grant is to support a collaboration between the Nanoscale Physics Research Laboratory (NPRL), School of Physics and Space Research and the Joint Research Center for Atom Technology (JRCAT) in Tsukuba, Japan. The JRCAT is a new institute estabished jointly by the Japanese government and a consortium of leading Japanese companies. The programme will explore the production and properties of size-selected clusters and their use as new nanometre-scale building blocks for the fabrication of novel materials and devices.

Nanoscale Polymerisation of C60
Oct 1995 - Setp 1997

The discovery of C60 ("buckminsterfullerene"), the third form of carbon, has generated great excitement in the scientific community and in the media. Attention is now turning to the exploitation of this remarkable molecule in the development of new materials and devices. Our project will explore the potential of C60 in the production of microelectronic circuits, via nanometre-scale patterning of C60 layers with the tip of a scanning tunnelling microscope.

Reactive and Catalytic Properties of Deposited Size-Selected Clusters
EU Fellowship: Dr. Mats Anderson July 1997 - June 1999
EU TMR Programme

Dr Mats Andersson, of Chalmers University, Sweden, has been awarded a prestigious Fellowship by the European Union (Training and Mobility of Researchers Program) to explore the chemical properties of size-selected metal particles (clusters) deposited onto a solid substrate. The Fellowship builds on Dr Andersson's expertise in the chemistry of free clusters and exploits the new facilities available in the Nanoscale Physics Research Laboratory.

STM Studies of Self-Assembled Nanostructured Monolayers
April 1996 - Open
Oxford Instruments

It is widely recognised that nanoscale science underpins new opportunities for technological development in a variety of fields e.g. optics, electronics, sensors. A promising route to the production of controlled nanostructured systems is self-assembly. This project aims to explore two complementary routes to self-assembly on the nanometre-scale, (i) vacuum deposition of supramolecular precursors, and (ii) vacuum deposition of metallic nanoparticles. Self-assembled nanosystems represent an important new application area for the Scanning Tunnelling Microscope (STM), and it is envisaged that experimental data provided by the Laboratory to Oxford Instruments will be useful for promotional and marketing purposes in an exciting growth area, and will illustrate Oxford's commitment to high quality instrumentation for frontier experiments.

Towards Tunable Gas Sensors: Resonance Electron Scattering by Molecules Trapped in Nanostructured Films
Sept 1996 - Aug 1998

Most gas sensors operate for a single gas. This has (at least) two major disadvantages: (i) specialised sensors are required for each gas to be detected in a gas mixture (e.g. in a waste or exhaust stream); (ii) each sensor has to be calibrated independently, because relative measurements are very difficult. A sensor which could detect a range of different gases - a "tunable" gas sensor - would be highly desirable. This project represents a novel approach to the fabrication of sensors in collaboration with BNFL.

Manipulation of Individual Molecules with the STM
Oct 1994 - Sept 1997

"But I am not afraid to consider the final question as to whether, ultimately - in the great future - we can arrange the atoms the way we want; the very atoms, all the way down! What would happen if we could arrange the atoms one by one the way we want them?" Richard Feynman

With the advent of the Scanning Tunnelling Microscope (STM) the "great future" of which Richard Feynman spoke in a famous address to the American Physical Society in 1959 is now upon us. The purpose of this Research Project is to establish a major UK program exploring fundamental aspects of atomic manipulation with the STM, especially new mechanisms involving local electron capture with an emphasis on the dissociation of individual molecules - "molecular dissection".