Users and Community Engagement
There must also be information and evidence on the level of community engagement and support that has led to the
Statement of Need.
In the case of a National Research Facility this is especially important and the Statement of Community Need must be presented as a community backed document.
A description of the UK communities that will benefit from the usage of this facility needs to be present, including the expected number and type of users (both academic and other stakeholders). Specific information should be provided on key research groups and their underpinning funding portfolio. Projected growth of the user base over the next 5 years should be indicated.
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The UK National Ion Beam Centre (UKNIBC) held a virtual user day on the 9th July 2020 to showcase its users and usage by the UK community. Users who had
accessed the Centre within the past year were asked to generated a short video poster on the work that they have been doing with the UKNIBC in the past
and were uploaded to the UKNIBC website and can be seen at https://uknibc.co.uk/UserDay. The event attracted 105 attendees with 60 user video contributions
as well as additional presentations about the current and future facilities offered by the Centre. Contributions ranged from implantation of dopants into
semiconductors and the irradiation of materials of interest to the nuclear power community to the analysis of biological and polymeric materials.
A further virtual community meeting was also held on the 14th October 2020 to discuss this statement of needs further (~25 people attended this event). All users of the Centre for the past five years were invited to attend and make comment as well as to suggest any missing or obsolete requirements at the Centre. Those who could not make either of the events provided comments via the website and/or email.
The UK Community
Analysis of usage data from the past 4 years of activity at the UKNIBC shows that the user community is generally very diverse and depends significantly on the origin of funding for the access as well as the requirement to employ the ion beams for materials analysis or modification. The UKNIBC currently provides ion beam facilities to 35 different Universities around the UK as well as 20 Universities around Europe and 4 from outside Europe (China, USA, Taiwan). A further 32 companies and 11 government sponsored research labs have also made use of the current facilities in the UK. The UKNIBC shares many of users of the National Epitaxy Facility often on different but related research projects. The UKNIBC would interact very strongly with the proposed National Silicon Photonics & Lithography Centre by providing it with essential bespoke implantation as part of the fabrication process for active devices.
Users from Industry and Public Bodies
Over the past four years around 50% of the access to the UKNIBC has been from Industrial and EU users. The largest usage, by far, is for the implantation and irradiation of III-V devices most frequently for the manufacture and development of quantum well devices. Companies such as Lumentum, PRP Optoelectronics, RFMD, 3SP, Eblana and Alcatel are regular users of the UKNIBC for this kind of work. Other companies such as Coherent, Rockley Photonics, Primo Electro, INEX, First Sensor, Adaptix, Element 6, Applied Materials use the facilities for doping group IV materials (diamond, Si, SiC, Ge etc). Rolls Royce, AWE and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) are users of irradiation and analysis with respect to materials relevant for nuclear applications. A number of other users interested in materials analysis for various applications including biomedical, thin film coatings, pharmacology, etc. (Roche, Teer Coatings, Plasma Quest, Xerion, Public Health England etc.). As yet there is only very minor usage from industry for quantum technology applications, but the expectation is that this has the potential to grow.
The other 50% of access has been to academic users at UK Universities. This tends to be more balanced across the EPSRC portfolio with strong usage for irradiation of nuclear related materials (Universities at Liverpool, Lancaster, Huddersfield, Manchester, Oxford, Sheffield, Leeds, Strathclyde, Bristol, Bangor, Imperial College, NNL and CCFE, Culham) and dopant implantation of Group IV (silicon, diamond, carbon, germanium) materials for: power electronics (Newcastle, Warwick); silicon photonic devices (Southampton); and other microelectronic applications (Surrey, Heriot-Watt, Ulster).
Implantation of III-V and other compound semiconductors (Sheffield, Cardiff, Newcastle, Surrey) is also relatively strong. Very low energy implants are being used to study defect migration from GaN and Si surfaces, simulating technological processes (Manchester). Implantation and analysis of solar cell materials (Surrey, Manchester, Loughborough, Swansea, Liverpool, Oxford) has been small but steady over the past 4 years. Applications to solid-state quantum technologies (Surrey, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, LCN-UCL, Southampton, Exeter, Salford, Heriot-Watt) is growing quickly with the arrival of two single ion implanters in the UKNIBC specifically aimed at this area. The analysis of trace elements and antibiotics in tissue for the treatment of diseases such as tuberculosis have been undertaken at Surrey, HMH-CDI USA, Institute of Pharmacology in Toulouse and the NHS Frimley. New work on equine Cushing’s Disease is under development. The analysis of trace elements in proteins is being used at Surrey, Oxford and University of Buffalo USA to correct substantial misidentifications in the global repository, the Protein Data Bank.
European Union Users and Others European Union University users are able to gain access to the UKNIBC through an EU H2020 Transnational Access grant (RADIATE) which pays for a limited access (~400 hours of access per year) to the facilities. This route will finish at the end of 2022. Following the trend from the previous FP7 I3 (SPIRIT) we expect that the overall usage from EU universities will decrease after this “paid-for” access finishes, but some will transfer to a “pay-as-you-go” access model.
Projecting forward to the next 5 years we expect the use of the UKNIBC for work involved in energy applications (nuclear and solar) to continue with a modest growth. We expect that implantation and analysis for microelectronics, photonic and quantum devices to continue to be in high demand with an increase in applications associated with Solid-State Quantum Technologies. These trends are already evident from the current UKNIBC usage data.