£1.7m to build world's first SIMS instrument combined with infra-red spectroscopy

September 27, 2005

The University of Manchester has been awarded £1.7m to build a new instrument which will for the first time combine ToF-SIMS and infrared spectroscopy opening up new possibilities in the study biological, organic and inorganic materials.

The capabilities of the instrument, which is expected to be built within two years, will be tested on materials such as prostate cancer tissue and environmental particulate pollutants.

The new instrument will enable surface and bulk analysis to be carried out simultaneously by combining SIMS surface analysis with infrared spectroscopy.

The project, which will span a four year period, is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and will be carried out in collaboration with the University of Surrey and Penn State University, USA.

The Principal Investigator, Professor John Vickerman, Director of the Surface Analysis Research Centre, said: "This project is an exciting example of how high-level fundamental research will be exploited for the construction a novel instrument that can then be used for vital medical or environmental research. By combining this capability with infra-red spectroscopy we will be able to get a much fuller picture of the chemistry of the molecules and materials we are studying."

ToF-SIMS and infra-red spectroscopy have already been used to probe prostate cancer tissue in a separate project within the University's School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Sciences. Co-investigators Dr Peter Gardner and Dr Nick Lockyer, in collaboration with scientists and clinicians at the CRUK Paterson Institute, have been applying IR spectroscopy and ToF-SIMS in the field of prostate cancer research for several years.

Peter Gardner, said: "IR spectroscopy has proved a highly successful tool for diagnosing and monitoring a range of diseases, including prostate cancer". Nick Lockyer added; "The application of ToF-SIMS in cancer studies is extremely novel and this unique machine will allow us the new insights at the molecular level"

Environmental studies will also exploit the unique capabilities of the new instrument and will focus on investigating the surface chemistry of various types of particles found in the atmosphere, with specific interest in the uptake and transformation of small atmospheric molecules on solid particles. These fundamental processes undoubtedly affect the role of such particles in global climate change.

Co-investigator Dr Andrew Horn, said: "This is a considerable step forward in advanced, chemically resolved instrumentation. Over the past 10 years, we have demonstrated the complementarity of SIMS and IR spectroscopy through applications in a number of areas. The instrumentation and methods developed in this project will have significantly wider applications in physical and materials science in the longer term as well. This project is an excellent example of collaborative, multidisciplinary work between research groups within the University of Manchester."

Professor Vickerman, added: "If we can produce a machine which can simultaneously analyse the same sample of materials using SIMS and infrared spectroscopy it will be a world first for Manchester."
For further information:

Simon Hunter, Media Relations Officer, telephone: 0161 2768387 or email: simon.hunter@manchester.ac.uk

Notes to Editors:

  • Professor John Vickerman is Director of the Surface Analysis Research Centre within the University of Manchester's School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science which is part of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

  • Dr Peter Gardner is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science. Dr Nick Lockyer is a Lecturer in the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science. Dr Andrew Horn is a Reader in the School of Chemistry and an EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow.

  • Secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) enables the surface chemistry of materials to be analysed, by bombarding the surface with a high energy beam of particles. In a billiard ball type process atoms and molecules are ejected from the surface and their chemistry is analysed using a mass spectrometer. The bombarding beam can be highly focussed enabling chemical maps of the surface to be built up at high magnification - a type of chemical microscopy.

  • Research at the Surface Analysis Research Centre has recently shown that the use of C60, the football shaped (so-called bucky ball) molecules discovered by the Nobel Prize winner Sir Harry Kroto, as the bombarding beam enables big molecules to be removed safely from virtually any type of material. This knowledge gained from this research will be directly applied to the design and construction of the new instrument.

  • Infrared spectroscopy selectively measures the various kinds of coupled vibrational motions of atoms in molecules. The frequency-dependent patterns observed (spectra) are characteristic of the chemical species from which they originate, thus allowing the composition of a sample to be measured. IR methods generally probe both bulk and surfaces properties when samples are (semi)transparent at typical IR wavelengths. Being inherently less surface sensitive than SIMS, information about the bulk and surface composition can be obtained.

    University of Manchester

    Related Engineering Articles from Brightsurf:

    Re-engineering antibodies for COVID-19
    Catholic University of America researcher uses 'in silico' analysis to fast-track passive immunity

    Next frontier in bacterial engineering
    A new technique overcomes a serious hurdle in the field of bacterial design and engineering.

    COVID-19 and the role of tissue engineering
    Tissue engineering has a unique set of tools and technologies for developing preventive strategies, diagnostics, and treatments that can play an important role during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    Engineering the meniscus
    Damage to the meniscus is common, but there remains an unmet need for improved restorative therapies that can overcome poor healing in the avascular regions.

    Artificially engineering the intestine
    Short bowel syndrome is a debilitating condition with few treatment options, and these treatments have limited efficacy.

    Reverse engineering the fireworks of life
    An interdisciplinary team of Princeton researchers has successfully reverse engineered the components and sequence of events that lead to microtubule branching.

    New method for engineering metabolic pathways
    Two approaches provide a faster way to create enzymes and analyze their reactions, leading to the design of more complex molecules.

    Engineering for high-speed devices
    A research team from the University of Delaware has developed cutting-edge technology for photonics devices that could enable faster communications between phones and computers.

    Breakthrough in blood vessel engineering
    Growing functional blood vessel networks is no easy task. Previously, other groups have made networks that span millimeters in size.

    Next-gen batteries possible with new engineering approach
    Dramatically longer-lasting, faster-charging and safer lithium metal batteries may be possible, according to Penn State research, recently published in Nature Energy.

    Read More: Engineering News and Engineering Current Events
  • Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.