University of Cambridge (UK) Nanoscience Centre

University of Cambridge (UK) Nanoscience Centre
Type Disciplines
Research Institution Nanoparticles Nanomaterials
Address Postal Code
University of Cambridge CB2 1TN
City State / Province
E-mail Country
United Kingdom
Web Phone
link +44 1223 334900

Nanotechnology research and study at the University of Cambridge (UK) is under the auspices of two “umbrella” groups: 1) The Novel Nano-scale Multifunctional Materials Engineering (NanoFen), a project is conducted at the Dept. of Materials Science and Metallurgy in the Device Materials Group, and 2) The Nanoscience Centre, which brings together faculty from many different departments.

NanoFen’s main objectives are to develop novel processing technologies for growth of nanostructured functional materials, to apply an intelligent combinatorial approach to realizing nanocomposite architectures, and to demonstrate simple, novel multifunctional devices.

Research is divided up further under these three main categories.
  1. The NanoFen Project
  2. Focused ion beam processing
  3. Cambridge Nanoscience Centre
Each of these categories is broken down into individual research areas.


NanoFen is a major project which involves novel materials processing, the growth of functional nano-wires, the exploration of routes for ordered nano-wire growth, the production of multifunctional nano-composites, and the demonstration of simple, novel (multi)functional devices. In order to transform the promises of the nano-scale phenomenon into industrial applications, practical approaches will be adopted, and hence there will be an emphasis on chemically based processing routes. There is also be a particular emphasis on the study of oxide materials.
  • Nanocomposites
  • AAO templates for magnetic nanostructures
  • Electrodeposition
  • Ultrasonic assisted Chemical vapour deposition
  • Nanowire Arrays for solar cells
  • Nanoparticles
A) Zinc Oxide Nanorods
B) Cuprous oxide Nanoparticles
C) Magnetite Nanoparticles


A focused ion beam system is similar to a scanning electron microscope, except that instead of using an electron beam, a beam of ions is scanned across the sample. The ion beam is ejected from a liquid metal ion source (usually Ga), with a spot size on modern systems of <10nm. Imaging using secondary electrons provides surface information with similar resolution to that obtainable from an SEM; however the main applications arise from the use of ions as the scanned species. The main focus is on nanofabrication of devices.

The Department has a number of on-going programmes based around ion beam processing:
  • Focused Ion beam Device Nanofabrication, including: magnetoresistive device fabrication, nano light emitting diodes, nano josephson junctions, intrinsic josephson junctions, Nano SQUIDs
  • Electron microscopy specimen preparation
  • Magnetic imaging in the focused ion beam
  • Device processing
  • Micromachining


The Nanoscience Centre is a new building occupying a site at the north east corner of the Cavendish Laboratories on the University's West Cambridge Site. The main activity in the building is making individual devices or structures which are only a few nanometres in size and then measuring how they work. The aim of the center is to provide a contral focus for nanoscience research in Cambridge, housing both a wide range of research equipment and office accommodation for researchers working on interdisciplinary nanotechnology projects.

The Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration
Through the Nanoscience Centre Cambridge joins with the University College London and the University of Bristol to comprise the Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration (IRC). The IRC will provide an underpinning interdisciplinary activity in Nanotechnology with the theme of understanding and controlling the physical properties of nanostructures and devices by fabrication at single molecule precision.

The IRC, which runs until December 2007, has a total budget of £10 million. The IRC objectives are:
  • Fabrication of complex three-dimensional structures with molecular precision.
  • Growth of soft layers by directed self-assembly on patterned substrates.
  • Determining mechanical and electronic properties of nanoscale interfaces.
  • Evolving architectures for devices in biomedicine and information technology.
  • Spinning out several projects into the commercial sector.
  • Training of personnel in interdisciplinary research
Core projects of the IRC are:
  • Characterization of nanostructures by SPM
  • Nanofabrication
  • Computational methods for molecular nanotechnology
  • Smart Bio-Materials

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