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YIMR Awarded £2.66m EPSRC Critical Mass Grant

Posted on 10 September 2010

The York Institute for Materials Research wins funding for joint project to purchase world-leading microscope

The York Institute for Materials Research (YIMR) has been awarded an EPSRC Critical Mass Grant of £2.66M for a joint project with the Universities of Leeds and Sheffield.  The project was developed by YIMR Director Kevin O’Grady together with Atsufumi Hirohata of the Department of Electronics

The grant will fund the purchase of a world-leading electron beam lithography/scanning electron microscope system.  This system is capable of cutting out small objects such as dots and dots within rings and producing other patterns at nanometric length scales.  Such structures are expected to form devices for high frequency electronics and spin electronic devices which will be commercialised in the next five years.  Even though the objects produced are so tiny, this fully automated system is capable of producing arrays of objects of up to six inches across.  It will be one of only two such instruments within the EU having this level of capability. 

The grant bid was led by Professor Edmund Linfield of the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Leeds with Kevin O’Grady and Atsufumi Hirohata representing York.  The microscope will be based in Leeds, with the University of York having 25% of the available time.  However most of the work undertaken on the microscope involves the use of a computer aided design (CAD) tool which is used to control the microscope itself.  York will have a number of workstations operating this CAD tool so that we can spend significantly more than 25% of the time designing the structures that we wish to produce.

The grant provides for a York-based Experimental Officer who will jointly operate the microscope with a second Experimental Officer in Leeds.  The York based Experimental Officer will also be available to support York users and students in using the CAD tool.  The grant also comprises funding to support five PhD studentships across the three institutions. 

The project will support Atsufumi Hirohata’s work on Spin Electronic Device Structures and Kevin O’Grady’s work on Exchange Bias in Magnetic Systems.  However the availability of this instrument will also benefit others within the University, particularly within the Departments of Physics, Electronics and Chemistry which form the basis for YIMR, by affording access to a system unique within the UK.

An image of a 20nm diameter pillar contained within a nano-ring

Image of a 20nm diameter pillar contained within a nano-ring