National Nuclear Laboratory

NNL logo
Project lead: Prof Jonathan Hyde
The National Nuclear Laboratory operates some of the world’s most advanced nuclear facilities across the UK, delivering scientific innovation to our customers and collaborating with academia.

 

NNUF and EPSRC funding has enabled NNL to procure a range of scientific equipment for characterising irradiated materials:

•    A high-resolution FIB-SEM (available for academic research)
•    A high-resolution X-ray CT capability (available for academic research)
•    A 200 kV (S)TEM with EELS capability (available for academic research)
•    A 200 kV aberration-corrected FEG-TEM (expected to be available from late 2021).

In addition, NNL are procuring state‐of‐the‐art robotic equipment which will enhance NNL’s current in-house robotic capabilities to support Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (RAI) technical programmes. This capability will be located at our Workington Facility.

FIB-SEM at NNL’s Central Laboratory, Sellafield - FEI Helios 600i Nanolab with EDS & EBSD with TKD

Helios Nanolab 600i

FEI Helios 600i Nanolab

© NNL

 

A high-resolution FIB-SEM with a full complement of analytical capability is available for use at NNL’s Central Laboratory (Sellafield). 

Installed in the active area of Central Laboratory on Sellafield site, the instrument combines a UHR electron microscope with energy-dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX) and electron back-scatter diffraction (EBSD) analysis, as well as an ion column for sputtering materials and preparing size-reduced specimens for TEM analysis.

Previously the instrument has been involved in examining AGR fuel cladding, vitrified waste, uranium powders and precipitates, and preparing atom probe tomography needles. 

Technical contact: Dr Adam Qaisar (adam.qaisar@uknnl.com).

 

 

X-ray computed microtomography at NNL’s Central Laboratory, Sellafield - Bruker Skyscan 1172

XCT

Bruker Skyscan 1172

© NNL

 

A high-resolution X-ray CT capability is available for use at NNL’s Central Laboratory. Installed in the active area of Central Laboratory on Sellafield site, the Bruker Skyscan 1172 allows non-destructive imaging of specimens with a peak resolution of 0.9 μm.

Comprising a 100 kV, 10 W X-ray source, 11 MP CCD detector, and a micropositioning stage, the 1172 is capable of scanning samples as large as 50 mm in diameter and can perform z-stacking for particularly long specimens.

Previously the instrument has been involved in examining carbonaceous deposits, uranium foil in cement, Magnox simulant sludge, various cements and grouts.

Technical contact: Dr Adam Qaisar (adam.qaisar@uknnl.com).

 

200 kV (S)TEM with EELS capability at NNL’s Central Laboratory, Sellafield - JEOL 2100

 

200 kV (S)TEM with EELS capability

JEOL JEM-2100

© NNL

 

A 200 kV (S)TEM with EELS capability is available for use at NNL’s Central Laboratory (Sellafield site). The instrument combines the high spatial resolution of a transmission electron microscope with chemical analysis by EDS, and EELS. 

The instrument is further supported by NNL’s FIB and PFIB instruments, as well as ion mill and electropolishing equipment for TEM sample preparation.

Previously the instrument has been involved in examining AGR fuel cladding, zirconium cladding, MTR fuel, and wasteforms.

Technical contact: Dr Simon Dumbill (simon.dumbill@uknnl.com).

 

200 kV aberration-corrected FEG-TEM (to be installed in NNL’s Central Laboratory, Sellafield) - JEOL ARM-200F with EDS and Gatan GIF Quantum

 

FEG-TEM

JEOL ARM-200F

© Copyright 2020 by JEOLCO (UK) Limited

 

A 200 kV aberration-corrected FEG-TEM with EELS capability is expected to be available for use at NNL’s Central Laboratory from late 2021.

Installed in the active area of Central Laboratory on Sellafield site, the instrument is capable of sub-Angstrom imaging resolution, and atomic resolution chemical analysis by EDS (0.98 Sr Oxford Instruments X-Max 100 TLE detector), and Gatan GIF Quantum 965 ER with Dual EELS and EFTEM capabilities.

The instrument is further supported by NNL’s FIB and PFIB instruments, as well as ion mill and electropolishing equipment for TEM sample preparation.

Technical contact: Dr Simon Dumbill (simon.dumbill@uknnl.com).

 

Hot Robotics Capability – to be installed in NNL’s rig hall at Workington, Cumbria

NNL’s Workington laboratory

NNL Robotics Centre at Workington

© National Nuclear Laboratory

The facility will provide flexible space and equipment that will act as a link between the small‐scale, low TRL (1‐4) robotics research, and the full‐scale demonstrator facilities being set up by NNL to progress technology up to TRL 9. Facilities will include:

•    Robot laser cutting 
•    Sort and segregation capability
•    A flexible decommissioning cell
•    Flexible operating enclosures for development and testing of ROVs.

This is an integral part of the Hot Robotics NNUF2 capability involving University of Bristol, University of Manchester and RACE.

Technical contact: Dr Darren Potter (darren.potter@uknnl.com).

In terms of emergence from COVID-19 lockdown, the current estimate is that NNL will have 80% of facility capacity online by the end of September 2020 and 100% of facility capacity by the end of December 2020. Please do reach out to the NNL team, to start discussing access to the microscopes detailed above, at any point.

The NNL hot robotics capability is due to become available for external users from April 2021.

 

 

NNUF funded user access scheme for National Nuclear Laboratory

As a first step, please email adam.qaisar@uknnl.com, simon.dumbill@uknnl.com or darren.potter@uknnl.com (as listed above) to contact NNL for a discussion about the practical feasibility of your proposed research project. Then, you will need to complete a simple NNUF application form. When doing so, please upload an email exchange between you and a member of staff at NNL, confirming the feasibility of your proposed research. Please see the access page of this website for more detail about the NNUF funded user access scheme.

(Different rules apply for NNL's “nuclear fuel and recycle” call (FY 20/21) - please see the box below).

 

 

NNUF funded user access scheme - for NNL’s “nuclear fuel and recycle” call (FY 20/21)

 

The NNUF funded user access scheme is open to UK-based university researchers who are using RCUK-funded equipment as part of their research. NNL are not charging facility access fees for peer-reviewed academic research awarded as part of their “nuclear fuel and recycle” call, but there may be other costs associated with your time at NNL (namely sample transport and T&S) for which you may like to apply for NNUF support.

Workflow to follow

1. Apply directly to NNL for access, following the instructions in their call document. (N.B. This call has now closed).

2. In order to avoid multiple levels of scrutiny of your proposed work, and recognising that NNL rigorously peer-review proposals, if you have been awarded access by NNL for research which involves RCUK-funded equipment, it is expected that reasonable costs (as agreed in advance with NNUF) for sample transport and/or T&S for academics undertaking on-site experimental work at NNL will be funded by NNUF without requiring a separate application. In order to arrange this funding:

• as soon as possible, please forward to Francesca McGowan, NNUF Administrator (francesca.mcgowan@materials.ox.ac.uk) the email you receive from NNL granting you access, explaining clearly what type of costs (sample transport, T&S etc.) you are requesting be reimbursed.

• please include, with this email, an estimate/quote of expenses that you would anticipate claiming from the NNUF funded user access scheme. Please ensure that any travel and subsistence costs estimated or claimed are in line with standard EPSRC travel guidelines. Once NNUF has confirmed that these costs are reasonable, you can go ahead and spend this money.

3. Once your access has been completed, you will need to send receipts for expenses to francesca.mcgowan@materials.ox.ac.uk, who will reimburse these funds to your institution.

After your time at NNL 

Please note that after you have completed your access you will be asked, as a condition of receiving funding from the NNUF access scheme, to: 

•    Complete a feedback form detailing the research undertaken, the number of days for which you used the facility, how many members of your research team took part in the experiment etc.
•    Cite NNUF in any publications, reports, patents or other “outputs” which result from your research, and notify the NNUF Management Group (by emailing francesca.mcgowan@materials.ox.ac.uk) when any such “outputs” occur. This is in addition to acknowledging NNL in the normal way. Please respond in a timely manner to enquiries from the NNUF Management Group on these matters, as this information is required for our reporting to EPSRC and the UK government. 

Further information

In relation to the NNL call itself, please contact access.liaison@uknnl.com.
  
Please do feel free to contact Francesca McGowan, NNUF Administrator (francesca.mcgowan@materials.ox.ac.uk) if you have any questions about the NNUF funding process – we would be more than happy to help and advise. 

Text © NNL.