Research Infrastructure for 21 Projects Supports Progression of Exemplary Irish Science including over €6m for AMBER equipment.

The Minister for Jobs, Richard Burton, TD together with the Minister for Research, Innovation and Skills, Damien English, TD today announced details of a €28 million investment in research equipment and facilities through Science Foundation Ireland. A total of 21 exemplary research projects will be supported in sectors including additive manufacturing using nano-materials, applied geo-sciences, pharmaceutical manufacturing, bio-banking, marine renewable energy, internet of things, astronomy and big data.

This infrastructure funding was awarded competitively following rigorous international review to research groups where the research equipment and facilities are required to address major research opportunities and challenges; including partnerships with industry and /or international funders. This new infrastructure will ensure that Irish researchers continue to be internationally competitive, with access to modern equipment and facilities which will enable them to be successful in securing future funding from leading companies and Europe, including Horizon 2020.

This investment is made by the Department of Jobs through Science Foundation Ireland. The 21 infrastructure projects funded were in a range of strategically important sectors including Manufacturing.

AMBER received over €6.5m for a range of equipment including additive manufacturing nanomaterial infrastructure for the development of innovative printable materials such as 3D hip and knee implants; a state-of-the-art advanced analysis facility, allowing real-time direct observation of pharmaceutical process reactions as they occur thus supporting drug manufacturing; a crystallization, isolation and drying technology testbed for pharmaceutical manufacturing; sputter deposition tool capable of growing complex, device-quality stacks of metal and oxide thin films for applications such as integrated photonics; infrastructure to support the packaging and assembly of a wide range of miniaturised photonic devices used in data-communications, sensing and point-of-care medical diagnostics. AMBER received €3,336,623 for the Advanced Additive Manufacturing Nano-Materials Facility and €3,240,000 for the deposition tool for Complex Thin-film Stacks of Metallic and Dielectric Materials.

Speaking at the announcement in Birr, Co Offaly, Minister Bruton said: “At the heart of our Action Plan for jobs is driving employment growth in every region of the country. We have now put in place individual jobs plans for 7 out of the 8 regions in the country, and what has repeatedly become clear is that research and innovation must be accelerated right across the country if we are to deliver the jobs growth we need. Today’s announcement by Science Foundation Ireland is an important part of this. By investing in world-class R&D infrastructure, both at a regional and national level, this will ensure that we can compete at the highest levels internationally and continue to turn more good ideas into good jobs”.

Commenting on today’s announcements, Minister English said “Today’s investment will advance the implementation of the government’s new science strategy – Innovation 2020. The 21 projects will enable globally compelling research to be undertaken across the country; facilitating greater industry and international collaboration; supporting the training of researchers and demonstrating to an international audience that Ireland on an all island basis, is business friendly and bullish in its pursuit of, and participation in, excellent research.”

Prof. Mark Ferguson, Director General Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, added, “Ireland is increasingly becoming the location of choice for multinational companies to develop and test tomorrow’s technologies and this investment demonstrates our
commitment and expanded ability to engage, discover and collaborate at all levels. Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support and drive Ireland’s science strategy, Innovation 2020, with the addition of key infrastructure to propel important research projects. Ultimately, this is about providing Irish researchers in strategic areas with the tools to be world leading.”

A total of 21 projects were approved for funding with a total amount of €28.8m. More details at

AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland funded materials science centre based at Trinity College Dublin, has today announced the appointment of Professor Michael Morris as Director of the organisation. Professor Morris, a native of Liverpool, UK, has been in position since October.

A leading academic and industry scientist for thirty years, Professor Morris is also founder of Glantreo, an SME spin out company from University College Cork, and maintains links with the company in developing novel stationary phase materials for chromatography applications.

Trinity Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast, said: “We welcome Professor Morris as the new Director of AMBER. He brings a wealth of experience to the role and I am confident he will build on AMBER’s achievements to date and that AMBER will continue to position Ireland as a leader in materials science and bioengineering, creating high quality employment opportunities.

AMBER has a strong relationship with industry, at present the Centre has 28 signed agreements with industry partners and 36 ongoing projects to date. Professor Morris has broad experience with industry in this field and we know he will use his extensive knowledge and skills to develop AMBER’s connections with industry even further.”

Welcoming the appointment Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “Professor Morris brings a depth of knowledge at a senior level in both academia and industry which will serve him well in his leadership of AMBER and I wish him well in the role. The research carried out at AMBER is the type of excellent and impactful science which Science Foundation Ireland aims to support, delivering solutions that can benefit both Irish society and the economy.”

Commenting on his appointment, Professor Mick Morris, said: “I am delighted to be taking up the position of Director of AMBER, and look forward to working closely with the talented researchers within the Centre and driving new partnerships with industry. I am delighted to be working with colleagues here to support the best research in materials science. Ireland is now ranked 3rd in materials science in the world and AMBER has played a significant role in this positioning.

AMBER represents an extraordinary resource for the future of materials science both in Ireland and internationally. In addition, materials science underpins a wide range of market opportunities that have the greatest potential to deliver economic return through enterprise development and employment growth in Ireland.

AMBER has a strong emphasis on linking industry to the world class research being carried out in AMBER and by the associated researchers. The aim of the centre is to translate our breakthrough science into technologies and products that directly impact everyone’s quality of life. Examples where we have had significant industrial and commercial impact include, the development of the next generation computer chips as well as new medical implants and pharmaceuticals that will improve patient care.”

AMBER brings together Ireland’s leading materials science researchers working across the disciplines of Physics, Chemistry, Bioengineering and Medicine, with an international network of collaborators and companies.


Professor Mick Morris – Additional Biographical Details

Born in Liverpool, Professor Morris is a graduate from Liverpool University. He was a post-doctoral fellow at Imperial College in London before moving to Strathclyde University as a lecturer. In 1987, he took an ICI endowed lectureship at Cardiff University for research into surface science and catalysis. During this period he worked closely with academic groups in Cambridge, Nottingham, UMIST and Edinburgh. He was then appointed to a post in Materials Chemistry at UCC in 1993 and now holds the Chair of Inorganic Chemistry and is the current Head of the Department of Chemistry at the University. He is an adjunct Professor of Chemistry at Trinity College Dublin and also a visiting Professor at the University of Orleans. Professor Morris is also a Principal Investigator at the Tyndall National Institute.

Professor Morris was one of the founders of CRANN in 2003, where he created the Morris research group which focuses on the development of nano-electronic devices. This group has worked closely with Intel. Their work centres on the development of self-assembled block copolymers for the generation of precise surface patterns which can be transferred into substrates to create novel nano-dimensioned device structures. The group also uses chemical based processes for developing nano-engineered surface coatings and treatments which have superior function compared to standard materials. This expertise formed the basis for important industry relationships including DePuy, (synthesis of apatite materials) and Merck Millipore (novel membrane technologies).

Professor Morris’s work in AMBER, which began in 2012, has included collaborations with Intel on the development of new technology for the manufacture of logic/memory circuitry. He also collaborates with Henkel, Alcatel Lucent and other companies.

AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland funded materials science centre based at Trinity College Dublin and Trinity EngAGE, the Centre for Research in Ageing, working in collaboration with St Andrew’s Resource Centre, Dublin this week concluded their 8-week EngAGE with Science intergenerational community learning programme. “EngAGE with Science” brought primary school students, teachers, researchers and older people together to consider and debate developments in science.This novel project utilised AMBER’s successful NanoWow curriculum as a model to demonstrate how any research institute can translate their unique research in order to build strategic partnerships, strengthen local communities, inspire students of all ages, and ensure that Ireland has the most scientifically‐informed public.

Mary Colclough, AMBER Communications, Outreach and Public Affairs Manager, said: “This unique project provided genuine dialogue amongst generations, introducing science into the older community, facilitated through primary school children.

AMBER, together with its partners, really wanted to facilitate intergenerational mentoring to advance learning at all ages. We believe the programme encouraged intergenerational engagement in science and the programme exposed participants to science in a relaxed, non‐threatening manner, allowing them to engage in a dialogue that will enhance their own learning.”

Sarah Bowman, Director of Public Engagement, Trinity EngAGE Centre for Research on Ageing, said “We are delighted to have collaborated with AMBER on this project. We recognise that intergenerational contact is integral to healthy ageing, discovery, and community-building. The programme transferred scientific knowledge across generations and to a wider sector of society. Above all the programme reduced fear and uncertainty between social groups by focusing on learning together and empowered students of all ages to consider the contributions they might make to scientific research.”

“EngAGE with Science” is an 8-week programme in which a 5th class primary group from St Brigid’s Primary School, Ballsbridge, Dublin, and their teacher, used the AMBER NanoWow curriculum, which introduced nano and materials science. Nanoscience is the study of materials on the nanoscale or 100,000 times smaller than a single human hair. It is leading the revolution of materials and manufacturing, with applications across a range of industries including energy; medical devices; pharmaceuticals; technology and bioengineering.

“EngAGE with Science” built excitement and interest amongst school children because at the end of their classroom activities, they presented their work outside their school to their community, relatives, friends and researchers.

Students completed the lesson plans, developed journals, and then transitioned into “students as teachers” to present and explain the lessons to older people from St Andrew’s Resource Centre on Pearse Street who served as community ambassadors, visiting the primary school to engage with the students and contribute to their final poster development.

Three half-day field trips to Trinity College Dublin allowed students, teachers and older people to engage with researchers, learn about world-class technologies through hands-on activities, and enjoy informal lunch discussions. Two additional visits during the 8 weeks took place where the class visited St Andrew’s Resource Centre and older participants visited the local school. A final poster exhibition took place this week in Trinity College Dublin, with certificates of completion presented to all the participants.

“EngAGE with Science” is funded through the Science Foundation Ireland Discover programme.

Ireland’s first NanoFab launched as part of Nanoweek 2015

CRANN, Ireland’s leading nanoscience institute, based at Trinity College Dublin, has today announced the arrival of the Zeiss NanoFab - a multi-beam ion microscope, the most advanced machine of its kind available for imaging and machining at the nanoscale. This technology has several advantages over the traditional scanning electron microscope. The gallium, neon and helium ion beams integrated in a single instrument enable very high resolution imaging combined with nanomachining, making it possible to obtain qualitative data not achievable with conventional electron microscopes.

The new NanoFab will be housed in CRANN’s Advanced Microscopy Laboratory (AML) located in the Trinity Technology and Enterprise Campus and is the first of its kind in Ireland. There are approximately 40 of these NanoFabs worldwide, with 12 in Europe. The arrival of the microscope marks the launch of Nanoweek 2015, Ireland’s national awareness week of nanoscience and materials science which takes place from 19th to 24th October.

The NanoFab will improve our vision at the nanoscale, allowing us to see things we could never see before. The instrument combines very high resolution imaging of 0.5 nanometres (1 nanometre is one millionth of a millimetre) with the ability to machine nanostructures of less than 10 nanometres with speed and precision.

The ability to image, understand, and manipulate materials on shorter length scales is important in a huge range of research disciplines, from Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Medicine, Engineering and Natural Sciences. Microscopy is also critical to the development of new products and process improvements.

Professor Valeria Nicolosi, Principal Investigator at CRANN, said: “NanoFAB offers Irish researchers and industry the most advanced tool of its kind worldwide for working with nanomaterials, including graphene, nanowires, and also biological samples such as cancer cells and tissues. There is a growing reliance on advanced microscopy for the most demanding research in materials and life sciences. Ultimately, our new instrument will enable our industry and academic users to accelerate their innovations. It’s a tool that will allow us to see things that were never before visible, it offers new insights with images that have 5 to 10 times greater depth of field when compared to images acquired previously.”

In addition to providing high image resolution, the system can mill or remove a section out of a nanomaterial. It can do this nanomachining at great speed and achieve high throughput. Drilling precise pores into nanomaterials, such as graphene, in a way that retains its conductivity could be useful for applications such as faster DNA sequencing or other sensor applications. Creating precise lines of under 20 nanometres is also useful for future integrated circuit development.

Bernie Capraro, Research Manager, Intel Research and Development Ireland Ltd, said: “Intel welcomes the installation of the new Zeiss Nanofab in the Advanced Microscopy Laboratory. The possibilities of fabricating devices at length scales beyond state of the art is something that is important for the continued advancement of semiconductor technologies - adding to that the capability of imaging insulating materials at high resolution is an important development and we are excited to have access to such an advanced fabrication instrument.”

The NanoFab will be open for use to a range of researchers including those in AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded national materials centre based at CRANN as well as other SFI national centres across the country. It will also be open to academics in Europe as well as to industry.

For initial enquiries about industry or academic access, contact the Central Equipment Facilities manager, Cathal McAuley,