EPSRC Instructions

Present the science that will be enabled by the proposed Statement of Need. Applicants should provide evidence of the quality of research to be enabled and the research areas which will be supported alongside why this facility/large infrastructure capability is now needed and will be needed over the proposed 5 years of running.
If this would enable cross-disciplinary research, please state which other council’s remit(s) this would fall.
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Ion Irradiation, implantation & analysis facilities have been provided, in the UK since 1978 through the Surrey Ion Beam Centre and more recently via the UK National Ion Beam Centre, with the addition of Huddersfield and Manchester Universities. Over the past 4 years beam-time has supported more than £100M of EPSRC grants across Energy, Engineering, ICT, Physical Sciences and Health Care Technologies themes and more than 30 companies have obtained access. Much of this work directly impacts upon wealth creation and provides a vehicle for prototyping and developing new materials in these industries.

Ion beam facilities are vital to many current & future R&D programs across the UK including:
  • Silicon photonics: Recent EPSRC awards (Southampton, Glasgow, Rockley) are reliant on implantation. Silicon photonics is a key integrating technology to bringing photonics to the mass markets, the UK currently still has the technical advantage in this field and access to state-of-the-art processing equipment within the UK is vital to maintaining that position.
  • Power Devices: Groups working with SiC (Warwick, Newcastle), GaN (Cardiff, INEX) & Si (Manchester) power devices (Raytheon, Tyndall, L’boro) all currently use ion implantation for fabrication and Ion Beam Analysis to aid interpretation. Devices requiring this technology are gaining in use to meet the needs of DC to AC power invertors and high-power switching systems for green energy applications. Implantation is a critical step for the development of devices because of the low diffusivity of dopants in the dense lattice, high energy implantation at elevated temperatures is particularly critical to this community.
  • III-V Devices: R&D in III-V devices for photonic applications is still strong in the UK (Cardiff, Surrey, Sheffield). Many of the results and findings from previous research programs have been transferred to industrial suppliers (Lumentum, Coherent, Eblana, PRP Opto) all of which utilise ion beam facilities in the UK. This is varied in requirement from the provision of doped structures deep below the surface to the exploitation of the positive attributes of defect structures providing lifetime adjustment, carrier removal and isolation. All require access to ion implantation and analysis tools.
  • Group IV Substrates: Groups (Cambridge, Manchester, Huddersfield, Surrey) are investigating the exploitation of ion beam processing in the fabrication of graphene layers and rely on implantation coupled with in situ monitoring equipment. Implantation for Si is still in demand (Southampton, Dublin, Keele, Hitachi, Rockley).
  • Quantum Technologies: Ion implantation is used to make N-V centres in diamond and Si-Vs in SiC (Bristol, Exeter, Heriot-Watt , Element6) and for placing of dopant atoms at well-defined positions (Surrey, UCL, Oxford, Exeter, IC, Manchester) for other solid state quantum devices. There is a growing interest supported by the commissioning of two single ion implanters at the UKNIBC. The UKNIBC is pursuing the use of implantation to provide 28Si enriched surface layers required for Si based quantum devices.
  • Materials for Nuclear Power Generation (Oxford, Sheffield, Liverpool, L’boro, Imperial College, Huddersfield, Manchester) have extensive research programmes on the radiation effects in structural materials used in the nuclear industry. They are employing ion beams to simulate the cascade damage induced by high neutron fluxes and the generation of transmutation products. Ion beams provide a vital means of studying long-term stability of materials under irradiation as it is very difficult to scale up a neutron source to provide the high doses required in reasonable timescales. High energy beams, which penetrating deep into the material to avoid side effects caused by the proximity of a free surface, are required. In addition, simultaneous bombardment with two, or more beams, is required when determining the stability of a material against the combined effects of radiation damage and transmutation products and light element pickup. In order to gain insights into the dynamics of defect creation and evolution over a broad temperature the in-situ TEM ion-accelerator facility (MIAMI) provides a unique and essential contribution. UK groups (Oxford, Sheffield, Huddersfield, Manchester) use the existing tools along with overseas users (CEA, AREVA, Illinois & Notre Dame).
  • Radiation Chemistry (NNL, Bristol, Surrey, Manchester) is studied with these facilities to understand how chemical reactions and the damage that arise during irradiation can lead to corrosion of structural materials and the deterioration of waste form materials, which is vital for decommissioning and long term disposal efforts.
  • Health Care Technologies: The analytical capability of ion beams can be used for observing both the interaction of energetic ions with biological cells and in determining the uptake and positioning of nanoparticles and trace elements in cells, proteins (Surrey, Oxford, Buffalo, Roche, L’boro) and tissue (Manchester, Southampton, Strathclyde, Surrey, Toulouse, KCL, NHS & PHE) for the treatment of diseases such as TB, the correct classification of metalloproteins and the colocation of elements at high precision.
  • Other Materials: Anti-fouling surfaces for industrial heat exchangers have successfully been fabricated for the University of Dundee using ion implantation techniques with savings in reduced fuel consumption and maintenance. Applications with MIEC perovskites and SOFC fuel cells (Imperial) are growing. Elemental and structural data about thin film technological (Surrey, Teer, KCL, IMEC, Manchester, Imperial, etc.) and geological (Exeter) materials is readily obtained using Ion Beam Analysis techniques. These techniques are also applied to environmental and forensic studies (KCL, Surrey, Lausanne). New high-resolution Ion Beam Analysis equipment due for commissioning in 2021 will expand these capabilities still further.

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