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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


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.

Where did all the clusters go?
Monday 20 January 2014

The Cover of the current issue of Nanoscale (Nanoscale, 2014, 6, 1258-1263) is an image of a size-selected gold cluster deposited onto the surface of a thin graphite crystal and imaged with the aberration-corrected STEM - but more interesting still are the clusters you can't see! Science City Research Fellow Simon Plant and colleagues show that at sufficiently high impact energy the clusters can propagate right through a few layers of graphene, to a thickness that depends on the cluster size. The potential application is in the creation of very precise pores in the carbon film that could be used to filter chemically synthesised nanoparticles, proteins etc. So in this case the clusters are not the building blocks of nanomaterials but rather a precision tool for nano-engineering - a surgical scalpel on the atomic scale.

New Research Partnership with Nanjing
Friday 03 January 2014

The NPRL is delighted to announce a new partnership with Nanjing University in China in cluster research. Nanjing is China's leading cluster group. Birmingham will supply China with a lateral time-of-flight mass filter of the type which underpins the Lab's lead in this area. Nanjing will incorporate the mass filter into a cluster beam deposition system to enable electrical measurements of 2D systems doped with size-selected clusters in high magnetic fields. Pictured either side of REP are Professor and Academician Guanghou Wang and Professor Fengqi Song during REP's visit to Nanjing in November 2013.

Medal, Prize and Exhibition in California
Wednesday 30 October 2013

The John Yarwood Memorial Medal was awarded to Richard by the British Vacuum Council today. The Medal accompanies the Senior Prize of the BVC. It was presented by the Council’s past-Chair Martin McCoustra during the Awards Ceremony and Reception at the AVS 60th International Symposium in Long Beach, California. At the same conference, which has attracted 2300 delegates, PhD students Karl Bauer and Lu Cao are promoting NPRL inventions through a booth at the famous AVS technical exhibition (the only University stand out of 150!). Congratulations all round, NPRL!

Atomic structure of nano-alloy catalysts
Monday 21 October 2013

The aberration-corrected STEM is such a powerful tool! The latest report from Ziyou Li's group in the NPRL reveals the atomic structure of novel, nano-alloy catalyst particles, consisting of 24 gold atoms and just one palladium atom. Working with collaborators in Japan (who synthesised the clusters chemically) and Italy (theoretical simulation) the Birmingham team proposes a cage structure with some propensity for the Pd atom to sit at the centre. The work provides the attractive Cover Image for this week’s edition of Nanoscale (Issue 20).

Magic number hybrid clusters
Monday 14 October 2013

Congratulations to Ivy and Quanmin for their beautiful demonstration (by STM) of "hybrid" Au-C60 clusters, just accepted by Phys. Rev. Letters. Co-operative interactions between the C60 molecules, deposited onto a Au surface, and the Au atoms themselves lead to the spontaneous assembly of combined Au19(C60)7 "magic number" clusters - neither component of which would be stable at the temperatures where they are observed (400K). How many more hybrid nano-architectures will now be found?

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.111.186101

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