press release
Published: 30 April 2024

£3 million for the world's first imaging system could help develop better medicine, batteries and solar cells

The creation of a first-of-its-kind imaging system at the University of Surrey could help the UK lead a revolution in materials sciences. The new facility promises a better understanding of the effects of pharmaceuticals and could eventually lead to better drug development.  

Thanks to a £3 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Surrey will work with the UK SME Ionoptika and the University of Manchester to deliver a new Multimodal Ion Beam Imaging Facility, which will allow researchers and businesses to understand materials at an unprecedented microscopic level. 

The facility will house a “multimodal 3D elemental and molecular imaging system at a sub-micron scale”. This highly advanced system, similar to a powerful microscope, will be able to see the tiniest details of materials and molecules, smaller than a speck of dust.  

The new system will be the first in the world to use beams of charged particles at high and low energies to measure biological systems and materials. The high-energy beams will be delivered by a particle accelerator at the UK National Ion Beam Centre, a national research facility funded by EPSRC and led by Professor Roger Webb at Surrey. The system will produce X-rays, gamma rays, and particles, and the combination of this information will give a detailed map of the elemental and molecular makeup of materials. 

Surrey's new facility is expected to benefit more than 25 UK universities and companies in health, energy, technology, and engineering. 

Along with medical breakthroughs, Surrey's researchers believe the facility could help the energy sector create more efficient solar cells and durable batteries. The team also hopes this project will allow them to understand pollutants better and develop new ways to reduce climate change.  

Ionoptika is delighted to have been chosen to build the new imaging system in collaboration with Surrey. Whilst an SME, we have established ourselves as global experts in ion beam technology over the past 30 years, and will be very proud to bring our decades of imaging expertise to this unique facility. Paul Blenkinsopp, Managing Director of Ionoptika

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