Focas Facilities‌

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The core of the Institue is a suite of common, shared laboratories which provide essential services in Spectroscopy, Microscopy, and Sample Preparation & Analysis. These laboratories primarily support the activities of a number of interdisciplinary research groupings.

Spectroscopy

facilitespic1Spectroscopic analysis is fundamental to the understanding of both the properties of materials and chemical, physical and biological processes. It is a basic tool for the understanding and development of novel materials and processes. It is furthermore routinely used for analysis, problem solving and diagnosis. Any one regime of spectroscopy can only probe a limited range of physical properties, however, and therefore the availability of a full range of techniques is essential for any competitive research programme. Focas houses a suite of spectroscopic instruments, including ultraviolet/visible/near infra red absorption spectrometer and two Fourier Transform infrared microscopes, allowing measurement of material absorption continuously from the uv to the ir, a fluorescence spectrometer allowing measurement of luminescence across the visible, three Raman spectroscopic microscopes providing vibrational analysis which complements the FTIR, and a scanning polarimeter for measurement of circular dichroism and optical rotary dispersion across the visible spectrum. A range of voltage and current sources are available for in situ spectroelectronic and measurements can be performed over a wide temperature range (20K - 600K).

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Microscopy

confocal microscopeThe microscopy facilities allow the 2-D and 3-D observation and study of physical, chemical and biological samples. They include light microscopes, configured specifically for wide-ranging applications such as phase contrast, fluorescence, bright field and dark field.

Confocal laser scanning microscopy allows blur-free, crisp images of thick specimens at various depths to be produced. A 3-D reconstruction of a specimen can be generated by stacking 2-D optical sections collected one after the other. Fluorescence spectra can be recorded with the spectrometer attachment.

A room temperature atomic force microscope allows imaging in the native liquid environment with resolution 100 - 1000 times that of optical microscopy and comparable to or better than electron microscopy. Dynamic processes can be imaged in progress eliminating the time-consuming and often damaging sample preparation for electron microscopy. This is particularly useful for biological materials where live cells can be imaged in physiological fluids. The Instrument can also be used in conductance mode to map the surface electrical properties.

Focas houses two Scanning Electron Microscopes, allowing surface imaging down to the nanometer range. Both also have Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy capabilities. One instrument is specialised for elemental X-ray analysis, while the second instrument can image non conducting samples under variable pressure and the cryofeed option allows hydrated samples to be imaged.

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Sample Preparation & Analysis

cell cultureTo support the Spectroscopy and Microscopy facilities, Focas has wide range of sample preparation and analysis techniques. The facilities allow for solution and dispersion preparation, thin film preparation, materials processing, as well as thermal and chromatographic analysis. The Sample Preparation & Analysis facilities range from vacuum sublimation, ultrasound, ultramicrotoming facilities to analytic techniques such as capillary electrophoresis, thermogravometric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry and Gas chromatograpy – Mass spectroscopy.
Dark room and laminar flow environments are also available.

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