The Interface Analysis Centre (IAC) is celebrating 30 years at the University of Bristol, having been ‘spun-in’ from Berkeley Nuclear Laboratories in 1990.
Today it is one of ten research groups within the School of Physics and works on a range of materials science-based problems, primarily nuclear energy-related, focusing on industry-driven challenges and applications. The group contributes heavily to the South West Nuclear Hub's research portfolio.
Originally the group was based in Oldbury House on the University of Bristol precinct and was formally opened on 12th October 1990. The IAC started out with under 10 members of staff under the leadership of Professor John Steeds and Professor Geoff Allen. It is now a substantial research group with around 25 members of staff and 35 PhD students, and has been led by Professor Scott since 2009.
Reflecting on the group’s achievements, Professor Scott, Director of the South West Nuclear Hub, said:
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to celebrate 30 years of the Interface Analysis Centre as a bastion of materials science excellence at the University. We’ve supported so many students, so many research projects and so much impact that I’m proud to have been a part of it all.
In the past 10 years we’ve grown substantially both in terms of cutting-edge equipment, number of researchers and publications too. I’m hopeful that I’m the decades to come the Centre will be a major contributor to the substantial industrial and technological changes needed for a carbon-neutral society.”
Major research achievements
University of Bristol records show the IAC has produced nearly 1300 research outputs since 1990, including over 900 articles in academic journals. Much of this work has been in collaboration with industry partners, such as the National Nuclear Laboratory, Sellafield Ltd., Magnox, EDF and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.
In recent years the group’s expertise in nuclear fuels and actinide materials has led to involvement in major, multi-million pound research consortia such as TRANSCEND, ATLANTIC, PACIFIC and DISTINCTIVE, the latter a winner of a Royal Society for Chemistry award for industry-academia collaboration in 2020.
The IAC is also a leader in nuclear decommissioning research; it has developed capabilities in using robotics for radiation detection and waste management applications. It is a partner in the £42m National Centre for Nuclear Robotics, as well as the lead organisation of the new National Nuclear User Facility for Hot Robotics.
Aside from nuclear materials, the IAC also has capability in materials for aerospace, with close collaboration with Rolls-Royce leading to the Clifton Photonics spin-out company in 2018. Other areas of expertise include raman spectroscopy, nuclear materials for medical applications, high-speed atomic force microscopy and corrosion science.
Professor Scott added: “We now look forwards to the next 30 years of research and impact for the IAC. We live in challenging times where materials science and device development are becoming increasingly important for solving industrial, societal and global problems. I’m sure we have many further successes ahead”.