Facilities for Physics and Astrophysics

Featured story

Students working in the Physics lab


Learn in an industry-standard environment

Real-world experience in our labs

Having access to high-quality equipment is crucial during your studies, and the School of Physics and Astronomy has recently invested in a wide range of modern facilities including newly-refurbished labs and equipment, and an observatory. 

Our students use industry-standard equipment and work in state-of-the-art surroundings from the very beginning of their studies.    

Student in the Beacon Observatory
Tracey Girling. Cropped from original

Physics and Astronomy

Discover the fantastic facilities that our Physics and Astronomy students get to enjoy, including our newly-refurbished laboratories and the Beacon Observatory.

State-of-the-art laboratories

Our newly refurbished labs are well equipped for synthetic and analytical techniques ranging from soft organic polymers to nanoparticles to highly sensitive organometallic species. 

In addition to conventional synthetic laboratories, we have:

  • glove-boxes for both air-sensitive sample storage and preparation
  • Schlenk lines for the handling of highly reactive chemicals
  • a CEM microwave reactor with autosampler for high-temperature microwave-assisted synthetic procedures
  • high-velocity light-gas gun and impact laboratory. 

Our solid state laboratories are equipped with eight ovens and ten furnaces with the capacity to reach 1600°C. The furnaces include three-zone and tube furnaces suitable for chemical vapour transport studies in various atmospheres. 

We have also a brand-new NMR facility, which includes two 400 MHz machines. One of these is a Bruker Neo, the most up-to-date instrument on the market, which currently is installed in just three universities in the UK. 

We have a unique double-stage adiabatic demagnetisation refrigerator (dADR) which can cool samples to 15mK under highly-hydrostatic pressures of 50GPa with magnetic fields up to 6T and low noise sensitivity (1pV). This is used to study materials in the extreme quantum regime.

We have a leading track record securing beamtime at large national and international accelerator- and nuclear reactor-based facilities (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Diamond Light Source, Paul Scherrer Institute, etc.)

We enjoy access to in-house high-performance computing facilities, including our own research cluster, Tor. 

Beacon Observatory

The Beacon Observatory provides a fully automised system with both optical telescope and radio telescope capability. It includes a 17" astrograph from Plane Wave Instruments with a 4k x 4k CCD and a BVRIH-alpha filter set, as well as a 90-frames-per-second camera. The new facility is motorised and connected to the internet, meaning that observations can be carried out remotely. 

The observatory is extremely valuable for our students and staff, and we are pleased to welcome the local schools, interested local amateur astronomy groups and members of the public who also make use of this facility.

Working with industry

Our facilities are available for use by researchers or industry and we are always keen to hear about potential collaborative projects with industrial partners. We also provide consultancy services to businesses. Contact the Knowledge Exchange and Innovation team to learn more.