What potential impact will the proposed Statement of Need have on the research community and how will it work with industrial interests, across the range of types of impact (scientific/academic, people, economic, skills and training, socio-economic etc.), and is there a clearly thought through pathway for expanding the user base and accelerating the identified impacts. How can such a facility support training of skilled people, or enable potentially transformative research with impact on the society and/or the economy.
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Economy & Wealth: The current Ion Beam Facility works actively with academia and industry, collaborating on research and developing bespoke processes and services and generates millions of pounds for the economy. Ion beams continue to provide necessary tools for developing electronic & optoelectronic devices. In the past 5 years >50 companies have used ion beams to support their R&D programmes. These are dominated by companies working in the electronics sector but companies working in the energy sector, both solar and nuclear, also have high demand for ion beams to support their research. However, applications of ion beams are such that companies developing products in cosmetic, health care and petrochemical sectors have been able to exploit their analysis. The availability of these facilities has enabled many of these companies to remain at the leading edge in their product development.
People, Skills & Training: An ion beam facility not only provides a research capability but also acts as a training centre and knowledge repository for the UK academic and industrial communities. It provides more than just a service as bespoke processes are developed through active discussion and collaboration. ESRs have been equipped with the necessary skills to underpin the communications revolution and support the energy sector. They are encouraged to spend time at the facility in order to understand how a process is developed and applied to their own research problem. Beam time provides hands-on training for students and ESRs and provides direct support to four DTCs in the UK with others given access as needed.
Academic/Scientific: UK ion beam facilities support >£100M of EPSRC grants, enabling researchers in the photonics and communications sector to have access to high quality implantation needed to continue developing their projects. For those understanding, developing and predicting the lifetime and performance of materials for nuclear power generation this facility provides an unmatched combination of resources. This facility enables new knowledge to be gained in existing and future research programmes around the UK. Devices in the area of solid-state quantum technologies have demonstrated that precise implantation of single ions can enable information from a single electron orbiting a single impurity ion to be manipulated at THz speeds. Access to well controlled ion beam facilities is essential for further developments.
Society: the use of ion beams has contributed substantially to the silicon and digital communications revolution. The areas of research where this facility is centred has applications ranging from photonics and digital communications, through to the aerospace, transport and energy industries. It underpins developments in infrastructure, smart cities, global earth observation and health. This technology pervades every aspect of everyday lives and aims to keep the UK at the forefront of this technology, maintaining its competitive advantage.
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