Leading German scientist to unveil a world first at University Nanocentre

German scientist at Nanocentre
12 Dec 2013 12:43:19.717

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A unique X-ray machine — the world’s first high performance tool dedicated to the study of liquid surfaces — will take pride of place at the opening of a new research facility at The University of Nottingham’s Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Centre (NNNC) next week.

Eminent German physicist and chemist Professor Dr Hans-Peter Steinrück from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität will be guest of honour at the celebration on Tuesday 17 December 2013 when the Centre’s new X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy Suite is unveiled.

At centre stage is the University’s new Liquid Phase Photoelectron Spectroscopy (LiPPS) machine which is the first ever tool to allow researchers to take atomistic measurements of the surface of liquids. The research capabilities of LiPPS are ground-breaking and wide-ranging in a variety of high-value industrial sectors like semi-conductors, pharmaceuticals, aerospace and automotives.

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The suite has been set up as part of a £7.2 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at The University of Nottingham Professor Saul Tendler said: “We are very proud to welcome Professor Dr Hans-Peter Steinrück to the official opening of this fantastic new facility. He is a world leader in the investigation of the physics and chemistry of surfaces as well as the development of bespoke scientific equipment in this area.”

Director of the NNNC, Professor Andrei Khlobystov, added: “The X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy Suite is the gateway to an entirely new area of research because up to now XPS equipment has only allowed analysis of solid substances. LiPPS will secure The University of Nottingham’s leading position in nanotechnology and by providing access to industry and academia, we will maximise the impact of this new instrument on a national and international scale.”

The university’s Professor Peter Licence and his team are credited with the discovery of ionic liquid-based surface science. He said: “The potential applications of this new area of research are vast. Understanding solute composition and interfacial structure is vital in a wide range of processes including catalysts and electrode-related systems. We believe our research could lead to the design of more efficient energy storage and energy conversion devices. Also solution-based processes including electroplating and polishing are key to advancing engineering throughout the automotive and aeronautics industries which are main areas of growth for UK manufacturing.”

Co-researcher Ms Emily Smith has been a key figure in the development of XPS instrumentation and is one of the few people in the world with the expertise to design and interpret experimental data in the context of liquid samples. She commented:

“As far as the experimental work goes we will start at the beginning with some calibrations and groundwork which other researchers can use worldwide, after that our remit is very broad but there is a strong sense that developments that can help secure energy production and storage as well as reducing energy usage in industrial processes (particularly through green chemistry innovations) and reducing and recovering pollutants from these will be our driving factors. For example we want to examine the absorption and release of gases and heavy metals from liquid surfaces which have potential to scrub power station flue gases.

More details about the Nottingham Ionic Liquids Group can be found at http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/ionicliquids/Group_Web_Pages/Home.html

For more information about The University of Nottingham’s work in nanotechnology, visit http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/nnnc/index.aspx

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also the most popular university among graduate employers, the world’s greenest university, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the World's Top 75 universities by the QS World University Rankings.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

For further information contact Emily Smith, Experimental Officer, Nottingham Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Centre, on +44 (0)115 951 3458 emily.smith@nottingham.ac.uk

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