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World-class materials centre to be established

The University of St Andrews has been awarded nearly £1.5 million to establish a world class centre for the characterisation of solid state materials.

The St Andrews Centre for Advanced Materials, funded by the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, will make a vital contribution to the Scottish academic base in materials. Furthermore it will provide a unique and vital facility for existing Scottish industry and act as a magnet for the attraction of new industrial investment, particularly in research and development.

Housing the multi-skilled team and state-of-the-art equipment in one location, the Centre will be the focal point for several cutting-edge research programmes including the advancement of innovative work on materials for fuel cells which, in the future, will provide a means of converting simple chemicals into electricity with much less pollution and greater efficiency than conventional processes. As well as fuel cell developments, work will continue on the search for new materials to produce lightweight, compact and environmentally friendly lithium batteries. As well as making an impact on clean energy storage, the devices will play a crucial role in Scotland’s electronics industry.

However, the Centre’s activities are not confined to energy. Major research programmes are already in place on new materials for catalysts that can make the production of important chemicals in medicine and industry more efficient and less polluting. The Centre is also hard at work on new materials for the electronics and opto-electronics industry.

A significant proportion of Scottish industry is based on materials and knowledge of their composition and structure is vital to successful industrial exploitation. It is not possible for individual industries to establish in-house the range of state-of-the-art facilities necessary to adequately characterise solid state materials. By establishing the Centre at St Andrews, it will significantly enhance the Scottish infrastructure for industry. Locating the facility where there is a range of academics who have both expertise in the different characterisation methods and numerous links with Scottish industry, will ensure that the key intellectual input is married to the state-of-the-art facilities. The Centre will be led by Head of the School of Chemistry Professor Peter Bruce together with Professor John Irvine and Dr Russell Morris.

Professor Peter Bruce said, “This funding ensures that St Andrews is at the forefront of the UK in terms of sophisticated facilities and equipment for materials research. With this support we will be able to house both our facilities and multi-skilled team in one area which will permit us to maximise our strength and compete with the best research worldwide. The funding will ensure that we can continue to bring forward major innovations in materials. We are particularly enthusiastic to see these developments translated into benefits and are fully committed to the knowledge based economy”.

The University’s commitment to solid state research been demonstrated by major investment in academic personnel and infrastructure. Nine permanent academic staff have been recruited specifically in this area since 1994 and the University has provided extensive new laboratories and contributed substantially to state of the art facilities.

The St Andrews Centre for Advanced Materials now comprises 11 chemists and five physicists on the full time academic staff, supported by more than 50 postdoctoral fellows and PhD students.

ENDS

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email cg24@st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: chemistry/standrews/chg/23june2000

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