Research objectives and content
The objective is to develop a model of the removal (ablation) by intense laser radiation of material from the surfaces of nonmetallic materials, especially glassy and ceramic materials used as containers, etc. The model will be based on experimental data gained during the project and will provide a firm basis for the development and application of a new technique for the analysis of the surfaces of such materials. The very important novel feature of this technique will be its ability to provide an analysis of the chemical elements present within it as a function of their depth below the surface of the material. Such a capability will make possible investigations of: i) processes that leech materials from containers made of these materials into the environment; and ii) processes that result in the absorption by these materials of chemicals present in fluids contacting them leading to contamination and corrosion of the surface. Such investigations are performed only with difficulty at present using very expensive and complex instrumentation. The new technique will be rapid and convenient and involve very little preparation of samples in contrast to the situation with existing techniques. Opportunities both for commercial application and scientific advances will result.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
The project will involve the applicant developing a wide range of knowledge and skills in the following areas: i) laser technology; ii) atomic scale surface analysis techniques; iii) advanced chemical analytical techniques. The project will be based in two of the largest research groups in the University and the applicant will gain important skills in team working, time management, project planning and the presentation and reporting of scientific data.
Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)
The project outcomes relate closely to the development aims of several well established European companies supplying advanced instrumentation for chemical analysis and also to the research needs of numerous industrial companies, government agencies, etc., who require information on the chemical interactions of surfaces. Strong industrial interest in the project is anticipated.