Justify why this model is the most appropriate, as opposed to other approaches (such as local provision / strategic equipment, etc.). Reasons to be considered may include the need for specialised expertise in the technique, a new technique that is still at the early stages, unique capabilities (rather than just extra capacity), efficiencies of scale, fostering new communities or any other well founded and clearly explained justifications for a National Research Facility.
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The proposed facility is a mid-range facility because:
1. The basic capital cost of the provision of the equipment (including the accelerators, beam lines, specialist end stations etc.) is in excess of £20M. To provide such a facility to each laboratory and organisation that required it would obviously be uneconomical. In general users come from a large range of UK universities, public bodies and companies and require only a few weeks of access over a 3- or 4-year project. Hence a central facility operation encourages maximum utilisation of equipment.
2. The operation of the equipment and interpretation of the experimental data requires specialist knowledge and many features require extensive explanation for the full benefits of the techniques to be exploited. Again, this is difficult to justify for the use of ion beam analysis or implantation which may only form a small aspect of a lager activity.
3. The equipment is capable of generating a hazardous radiation environment and stringent health and safety protocols have to be in place and maintained to ensure the safe operation of the equipment. The investment in ownership and training for operation of such equipment is therefore relatively high and once again more economic when spread over many application/users.
4. The equipment is very versatile and can be used in many different application areas so that the number of potential users that can share the equipment is high.
5. Projects supported by this facility can be cross-disciplinary, unified by a common technology and frequently involve trained specialists from the facility working with those from the user community to help devise, set up and plan the experiments and to assist with the interpretation of the results. Such a facility needs to be maintained at the state-of-the-art and requires staff capable of developing and maintaining the equipment in this condition which relies on in-house specialist knowledge of the equipment.
Such an Ion Beam Facility does not compete with standard ion implantation foundry work provided by batch implantation companies set up to provide commercial semiconductor processing on a large scale. Rather the Ion Beam Facility will provide a more flexible and lower throughput operation (by comparison to the large batch services) which is not considered economic or possible by the commercial foundries.
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