Research Facilities

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As well as having well equipped laboratories for inorganic, physical and organic chemistry research at the Department of Chemistry is conducted with a wide variety of highly specialised equipment and facilities spanning the diverse and wide ranging research interests of its members, with the following list far from exhaustive. 

Access to a selection of devices and expertise is available not only to other groups within the University but also as service to institutions and industries in general.

Centre for Cosmic Chemistry and Physics

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The experimental activities of the UCL Centre for Cosmic Chemistry and Physics are based in the Chemistry department. Two sets of apparatus are devoted to these experiments:

  • High Vacuum apparatus equipped with a variable temperature sample mount (20 K - 600 K), an FTIR spectrometer for reflection infrared spectroscopy and a quadrupole mass spectrometer for temperature programmed desorption. The apparatus is also equipped with an Ar+ gun and LEED and Auger (more details).
  • Ultrahigh vacuum apparatus equipped with a variable temperature sample mount and coupled to a laser system to allow REMPI spectra of desorbing species to be recorded (more details).

Ceramics Engineering

Areas of interest include powder processing, solid freeforming, combinatorial and high throughput methods in materials science, polymer-clay nanocomposites, direct ink-jet printing of powders, ceramic foams, extrusion freeforming, hard tissue scaffolds and powder mixing.

  • Perkin Elmer LS55 Luminesence spectrometer.
  • Metallographic preparation and optical (petrographic) microscope.
  • Combinatorial robot for ceramic synthesis.
  • Pulse-echo ultrasonic detector.
  • Heat distortion temperature apparatus.

Chemical Biology

The application of organic chemistry to the solution of biological problems including the synthesis of both naturally occurring and biologically important molecules, the examination of structural and mechanistic problems in biological chemistry and protein engineering for biomaterial synthesis and biophysics.

  • Aktapurifier 10 FPLC system.
  • 5 Varian Prostar HPLC systems.
  • Varian Cary Eclipse fluorescence spectrophotometer.
  • Varian 100 Bio UV-VIS spectrophotometer.
  • Low temperature (-80° C) freezers.
  • Avanti J-26XP Beckman Coulter centrifuge.
  • New Brunswick Innova 44 incubator shaker.
  • Microflow Advanced Class II safety cabinet for biological work.
  • CEM Liberty, CEM Explorer, CSBio CS136 and SYRO I peptide synthesisers.
  • Perkin-Elmer 343 Polarimeter.
  • Perkin Elmer Spectrum 100 FT/IR with Spectrum 100 uATR.

Clean Materials Technology Group

Concerned with the application of green principles and clean technologies for the rapid and efficient syntheses of molecules or new inorganic materials. The research is multidisciplinary, covering chemistry, materials, high pressure engineering, supercritical fluids and automation with state-of-the-art equipment including:

  • Three multistation BET instruments.
  • Photocorrelation spectrometer.
  • Malvern Zetasizer Nano-series Analyser.
  • Hydrothermal nanoceramic synthesis equipment, equipped with autosamplers and high pressure pumps.
  • Bespoke Labman collection and cleanup robot.

Computational Facilities (including CCS and CPOSS)

CCS and CPOSS external sites

Extensive facilities including:

  • Xenon cluster (52 node (104 core) 100Gb).
  • Bragg cluster (20 node (40 core)).
  • Faraday cluster (30 node (60 core) fast interconnect).
  • Huygens cluster (96 core).
  • Blackadder cluster (20 core).
  • Mavrino cluster (96 core).
  • Use of the centrally owned and administered Legion cluster (3000 node).
  • Access Grid Video Conferencing Facility.
  • Stereoscopic Projection Visualisation Suite.

Electrochemistry Group

Areas of specialisation of this group include gas-phase/plasma electrochemistry (Caruana) and electrochemical surface imaging techniques such as Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy (Holt).

  • Digital storage oscilloscopes (Tektronix, DPO 7054 and TDS 3012)
  • Potentiostats (Eco-Chemi) to carry out most electrochemical techniques.
  • CH Instruments 900B Scanning Electrochemical Microscope
  • M9100 Mikron thermal imaging pyrometer equipped with a microscope objective providing a field of view 2 by 3 mm. Temperature range 800 to 3000 K.
  • Raman Microscope equipped with green laser and optic fibre probe.

Gas Phase Reactions and Atmospheric Chemistry

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Understanding of the reaction kinetics and mechanisms of gaseous reactive species is important not only in atmospheric chemistry, but also in combustion and plasma chemistry. In addition, fundamental studies of reaction kinetics and dynamics can only be tested by the acquisition of high quality experimental data.

  • Lambda Physik 200 Excimer Laser equipped with a unique CCD detection system for time resolved spectral acquisition.
  • Gas phase kinetics Flow tube Mass Spectrometer.

Industrial Materials and Applied Crystallography

The Industrial Materials Group has built up a state of the art powder diffraction facility including a Siemens D500 powder diffractomer and variable temperature capillary transmission diffractomer both equipped with position sensitive detectors to follow in real time any changes in atomic structure and phase transformations. Special specimen stages have been designed which permit temperatures of between 8 K and 1700 K and allow the circulation of chosen gases above or through the sample.

Inorganic Solid State Chemistry

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Research in three main areas; (a) synthesis of new materials under high pressure-high temperature conditions, (b) studies of inorganic liquids and glasses, and (c) synthesis and structural characterisation of "expanded" open framework forms of group IV semiconductors.

  • 1000 Tonne multianvil press with Walker module.
  • 400 Tonne multianvil press with Walker module.
  • 100 Tonne non end-loaded piston cylinder with 13 mm and 9 mm cores with 10 Tonne extraction press.
  • Several Diamond Anvil Cells.
  • Raman Spectrometer with 2 excitation lasers (green and red) and CO2 and YAG lasers for laser heating.
  • Bruker FTIR Microscope with Far-IR, Mid-IR, Near-IR and UV detectors.

Ion Chemistry

Ions and electronically excited molecules can posses a considerable amount of excess electronic energy. These energized species display a very different reactivity to unexcited molecules, and play an important role in the chemistry of media such as planetary atmospheres.

  • Multi-coincidence time-of-flight mass spectrometer equipped with pulsed electron gun. This mass spectrometer can detect up to 5 ions formed from a single ionization event. The spectrometer is the only machine world-wide which can measure precursor specific ionization cross sections, which allows the determination of which fragment ions, from an ionizing electron-molecule collisions, result from which level of ionization.
  • Position-sensitive coincidence spectrometer. This apparatus detects the pairs of singly charged ions formed following the chemical reactions of double charged ions with neutrals. It is the only machine of its type worldwide.

Magnetism and Catalyst Groups

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The DFRL carries out a broad range of solid-state science research, which fall into the themes of engineering materials, materials modelling and physical materials. Equipment available for this research includes:

  • Quantum Design MPMS7 SQUID Magnetometer allowing DC magnetisation measurements at temperatures of 2-400 K in magnetic fields of 0-7 T.
  • Bruker-AXS D8 powder X-ray diffractometer (capillary transmission geometry) with Cu radiation, primary monochromator and position sensitive detector. A furnace and helium closed-cycle cryostat are available for non-ambient temperature measurements.
  • Bruker-AXS D4 powder X-ray diffractometer (reflection geometry) with Cu radiation and a 66 position automatic sample changer.
  • Siemens D5000 Xray diffractometer (reflection geometry) with Co radiation for manganese containing samples.
  • Thermogravimetric analyser.
  • Catalytic reactors for both high pressure and ambient experiments.
  • Gas chromatography equipment for liquid/gas samples.
  • Mass spectrometer for analysing gaseous products.
  • A range of single and three zone tube furnaces, muffle furnaces and ovens.

Mass Spectrometry and Bloomsbury Environmental Isotope Facility

UCL Chemistry Mass Spectrometry Facility provides nominal and accurate mass measurements using EI, CI and ESI ionisation techniques,  LC-MS of small molecules and protein/antibody analyses,  GC-MS analyses with EI and CI ionisation, peptide finger printing, LC-MS/MS and MSn, GC-Selective Ion Monitoring (SIM) scans and LC-SIMs.  Full details of Mass Spectrometry instruments and other related information can be found on our Mass Spec web site.

Materials Chemistry Centre

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The Materials Chemistry Centre was established to provide an integrated environment for chemical engineering at UCL. Renovation and installation of the laboratories was completed in 2004 following a grant from the Strategic Research Infrastructure Fund SRIF-2 programme supported by HEFCE. Research initiatives within the MCC combine experimental studies and computational materials science, for synthesis, characterisation and testing of new materials and processes, and prediction and evaluation of their structures and properties. Facilities include: 

  • Renishaw Raman Microscope equipped with 4 lasers (UV, blue, green, red) and variable temperature stage (-193 - 1500 C).
  • Impedance Spectrometer.
  • Raman Microscope equipped with 2 lasers (green, red)
  • 100 kV Transmission Electron Microscope.
  • Netsch DSC/TGA equipped with Mass Spectrometer.
  • Bruker D8 Discover XRD (reflection geometry) with a collimated Cu radiation source utilising a Hi-Star detector capable of ~ 1mm sample spatial resolution for mapping substrates.
  • Philips XL30 ESEM variable temperature stage scanning electron microscope with secondary and backscattered electron detectors, a cathode luminescence detector, and energy and wavelength dispersive x-ray detectors. This microscope is capable of dynamically imaging surfaces under the action of gases and vapours.
  • JEOL JSM-6301F Field Emission SEM for high-resolution imaging also equipped with an energy dispersive X-ray detector.
  • Perkin Elmer Lambda 950 with integrating sphere for measurement of the transmission and reflection (both specular and diffuse) spectra of thin films over the UV-VIS/NIR range, with additional module to measure fixed angle reflection spectra.


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The overall aim is to establish the relationship between the geometry, electronic structure and reactivity of these important materials at the atomic level. The principal techniques used in this work are scanning tunnelling and non-contact atomic force microscopies, ancillary techniques of photoemission, high-resolution electron energy loss spectroscopy and LEED are also used and extensive facilities are provided for this work:

  • Omicron variable temperature Scanning Tunneling Microscope (25 - 1500 K) equipped with mass spectrometer, LEED, Auger and Metal Dosers.
  • Omicron room temperature Scanning Tunneling Microsope/Atomic Force Microscope equipped with mass spectrometer, LEED, Auger, and Metal Dosers.
  • Omicron Low temperature Scanning Tunneling Microscope equipped with mass spectrometer, LEED, XPS, UPS, and Metal Doser.
  • Kratos Xray Photoelectron Spectrometer (dual Mg/Al source).
  • High Resolution Electron Energy Loss Spectrometer.
  • Xray Photoelectron Spectrometer providing photoelectron diffraction equipped with mass spectrometer, LEED, Auger, and Metal Dosers.
  • Low Energy Electron Diffractometer for quantitative (I/V) measurements, equipped with mass spectrometer, LEED, Auger, and metal evaporators.
  • Angular Resolved Spin Polarised Inverse Photoemission Spectrometer (and Magneto-Optic Kerr Effect), equipped with mass spectrometer, LEED, Auger, and metal evaporators.

NMR Spectroscopy

Bruker Avance 600, 500, 400 and 300, each equipped with pulsed field gradients, multinuclear probes and variable temperature facilities. The 600, 500 and 300 MHz instruments also have automatic sample changers. The 600 MHz instrument is equipped with a cryo probe optimised for 13C measurements. Full details of NMR instruments and other related information can be found on our NMR web site

Ultrafast Laser Group

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The Ultrafast Laser Labs house two 1 kHz femtosecond laser systems, one 20 Hz femtosecond laser system and one nanosecond laser system.

  • All solid-state < 40 fs, kHz laser system with two independently tuneable OPAs capable of operating from the infrared to the ultraviolet (235 nm). Pulse shaping capability for visible and ultraviolet light and pulse characterisation. This laser system is coupled with a vacuum apparatus for time-resolved photoelectron imaging.
  • All solid-state 100 fs, 20 Hz laser system with two independently tuneable OPAs capable of operating from the infrared to the ultraviolet (235 nm). Phase-stabilised Michelson-interferometer. This laser system can be synchronised with a 20 Hz nanosecond dye laser system with three independently tuneable dye lasers capable of operating from the visible to ultraviolet, and is coupled with a vacuum apparatus for electron and ion time-of-flight spectroscopy.
  • All solid-state < 40 fs, kHz laser system with two independently tuneable OPAs capable of operating from the infrared to the ultraviolet (235 nm). Pulse shaping capability for infrared (800 nm) and high harmonic generation capability in a capillary (under development). This laser system is coupled with two experiments: (a) UHV apparatus for surface science which is equipped with a hemispherical electron analyser and ion time-of-flight as well as standard surface science science diagnostics. (b) Commercial electrospray/nanospray quadrupole time-of-flight mass-spectrometer which has been modified for time-resolved photoelectron imaging of mass-selected proteins.

X-ray Crystallography

Bruker SMART APEX CCD single crystal X-ray diffractometer equipped with a variable temperature unit (90-300K). The diffractometer is equipped with a 62mm Lockheed 4K CCD and the absence of any optical taper between the phosphor screen and CCD improves the optical transmission by an order of magnitude over previous generations of CCD diffractometer.