The new Nano Investigation Centre at Liverpool (NiCaL), which is part-funded by the Northwest European Regional Development Fund, opens up the field of electron microscopy to North West SMEs. Its aim is to help SMEs improve their productivity and competitiveness by linking them to technology and expertise that will improve their products and processes.
Electron microscopy can add value to almost every manufacturer of a physical product
The new Nano Investigation Centre at Liverpool (NiCaL) provides qualifying SMEs free-of-charge access to experienced analysts and material scientists to assist with any materials-related requirements. This includes access to the latest state of the art microscopy instrumentation.
Electron microscopy uses a focused beam of electrons in place of light, enabling samples to be magnified up to around 20 million times actual size without loss of definition. It has commercial applications across a range of sectors, including advanced manufacturing, bio-sciences, medical equipment manufacture, and environmental and energy technologies.
Among the specific benefits of electron microscopy are the shortening of development cycles for new products; improved failure analysis and quality control; earlier identification of tooling wear; and identification of contaminants at a smaller scale.
Products which rely on nanotechnology – from catalysts to thin coatings and semiconductors and nanotechnology-based drug delivery – will also benefit from the ability to characterise components and interactions right down to the atomic scale. In fact, electron microscopy can add value to almost every manufacturer.
SMEs are often unable to reap the benefits because of its prohibitive cost – with commercial rates running up to several thousands of pounds per day – and a lack of awareness of its potential benefits.
Sharing our expertise
NiCaL has been established to remedy this by sharing the University’s expertise. “We have some of the world’s most advanced and powerful equipment, with expertise that enables the transfer of knowledge to industry,” explains Professor Gordon Tatlock, NiCaL Director. “Regional SMEs which fabricate a physical product and wish to improve these and their processes can contact us for free advice and support. We will also be extending a series of one-day workshops, explaining what electron microscopy can bring to industry, into a broader outreach programme”.
He adds: “Our principal aim is to support SMEs by helping them access this technology so that they can innovate and grow, and hopefully create jobs.”
Regional SMEs looking to benefit from this facility can contact the Technical & Industrial Liaison Manager at:
Dr. Simon RomaniTechnical & Industrial Liaison Manager
T: 0151 794 5375 or 0151 794 5380