£6m awarded

Following a co-ordinated family of bids from the N8 Research Partnership, a total of £6m was awarded as part of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Core Chemistry Capability initiative.

This major investment has now enabled the group to install some of the latest and most powerful scientific instruments in N8 universities, supporting world-class research with applications in areas as diverse as drug development, industrial biotechnology, quantum computing and nuclear clean-up.

The new equipment covers four core areas of chemistry research:

  • mass spectrometry (MS)
  • nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)
  • X-ray diffraction (XRD) and
  • atomic-level microscopy.

Mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy are fundamental tools for the chemist, allowing both the sizes and the detailed chemical structures of molecules to be determined. Chemists across the N8 synthesise thousands of new compounds every year, with potential applications in medicine, agriculture, food science and the environment, and in almost every case the first two steps in determining what has been made are to measure an NMR spectrum and a mass spectrum.

Where compounds form crystals, X-ray diffraction allows a complete three-dimensional map of chemical structure to be made, even for complex chemical systems. Because the properties of materials can change when very small particles are made, atomic-level microscopy is vital both for determining the shapes and sizes of nanoparticles, and for building our understanding of how both nanoparticles and larger systems form.

Celebrating new chemistry facilities

Chemistry researchers from across the N8 universities took part in an event at The University of Manchester recently to showcase the new facilities and the impact being made in some of the latest chemistry research taking place across the N8 partners.

The event was one of a co-ordinated series of events across the UK to celebrate the world-class instrumental resources in UK university chemistry departments. Speakers at the Manchester event included:

  • Andrew Bourne, Lead for Physical Sciences, EPSRC
  • Professor Perdita Barran (Manchester) – Mass spectrometry
  • Professor Gareth Morris, FRS (Manchester) – NMR
  • Professor John Evans (Durham) – X-ray diffraction
  • Professor Graham Leggett (Sheffield) – Atomic level microscopy