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Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute

New world-class research facilities officially launched

Published: 16 September 2011Origin: Engineering

Two new ground-breaking research centres designed to examine the structure of matter and objects have been launched at the University of Southampton (16 September 2011).

Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Southampton Itchen MP John Denham, also a Southampton Chemistry Alumnus, toured facilities at a launch event, along with the University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Don Nutbeam.

The µ-VIS (micro-vis) X-ray Imaging Centre, supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), examines the internal structure of objects in incredible detail.  It produces high-resolution 3D images, by using CT scanning similar to that used for medical purposes in hospitals. 

"Our ability to look inside objects at this level of detail is a huge advantage when studying items which either can't be dismantled or are too delicate or complicated to take apart," comments the centre's Director, Professor Ian Sinclair.

He continues, "It is Southampton's close integration of state-of-the-art imaging hardware, world-class computing and image processing expertise which is needed to turn the resulting 3D data into new scientific and engineering results, allowing us to break new ground."

Based in Engineering and the Environment, the centre has already studied items ranging from the fossilised skull of a pliosaur (an extinct marine reptile of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods), individual carbon fibres in aircraft parts, to the delicate roots of plants which may be affected by climate change. 

The µ-VIS Centre simultaneously launched with the Southampton Diffraction Centre, based in Chemistry. The diffraction centre produces high-resolution 3D images that enable the internal structures of objects to be studied in incredible detail, and supports research in fields ranging from biomedical science to engineering, archaeology to modern environmental science.

Southampton's diffraction facilities are already enhancing the work of academics working in the fields of chemistry, medicine and biological sciences and are enabling the increasing growth of collaborators, particularly in the Life Sciences areas.

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