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FEI Center for Advanced Imaging opens at University of Ulster

FEI Systems to Support Both Molecular Bioscience and Industrial / R&D Applications for the University and its Regional Partners

(PresseBox) (Hillsboro, Ore., ) University of Ulster today opened the FEI Centre for Advanced Imaging in Northern Ireland. The centre will provide a suite of FEI electron microscopes for all major research areas within the university’s Biomedical Sciences Research Institute. It will also support academic research from other faculties within the university and beyond, including industrial R&D for the university’s industrial partners within the region.

The new centre is equipped with a suite of FEI tools including a Quanta™ ESEM (environmental scanning electron microscope); a Tecnai™ cryo TEM (transmission electron microscope); and a Nova NanoLab™, the world’s first DualBeam™ (scanning electron microscope/focused ion beam) system to provide cryo applications. Advances incorporated in the Nova NanoLab were developed through close collaboration between FEI and Dr. George McKerr of the university. The new centre is funded in part by a 1.3 million pound sterling investment by the Department for Employment & Learning and the Office of Science & Innovation through the UK Science Research Investment Fund (SRIF) 2006-08.

“We are very pleased to have FEI as our microscopy partner for the university’s new Centre for Advanced Imaging,” commented Professor Stephen Downes, director of the Biomedical Research Institute. “The advanced performance of these systems and their flexibility will truly enable the centre to meet the demanding challenges faced by users and serve the multidisciplinary focus of the centre and our partners in the region.”

Some of the leading applications at the centre will focus on addressing potential hazards related to nano-enabled technologies. According to Professor Vyvyan Howard, head of the university’s Bioimaging Reserch Group, the pioneering technology of the new centre will enable the University of Ulster to become a world leader in supporting the safety of the next generation of nanotechnology products.

“We intend to be recognised as one of the world centres of excellence for investigating nanoparticle toxicology,” commented Professor Howard. “There will be a lot more work to do in the coming years because every single product that is developed containing free nanoparticles will have to undergo a toxicological safety assessment. With funding procured within the last few months the new Centre will have five highly qualified research scientists working full time in this area.”

Dr. George McKerr of the University of Ulster added, “We are a fully multidisciplinary lab that can deliver a wide variety of imaging solutions. Our research into neural repair and regeneration will benefit greatly from the tomographic capabilities of the Tecnai TEM and our collaborative work with Unilever Research has exciting opportunities ahead in the full deployment of the unique capabilities of environmental SEM. This venture also has a window onto all the advanced work that we do with optical microscopy techniques and we look forward to fuller integration.”

As global investment in nanotechnology development continues to grow, FEI’s tools continue to provide advanced applications for industrial and research users working on the nanoscale around the world.

Attending the centre’s opening was Deputy U.S. Consul General in Belfast, Henry Bisharat, and senior management representatives from Unilever. In his opening comments Bisharat commented, “Over the coming years and decades, nanotechnologies are set to make an enormous impact on manufacturing and service industries, on electronics, information technology, and on many other areas of life, from medicine to energy conservation. Some forecasts have placed the worldwide market for nanotechnology-related products at around £105 billion in 2005 and £700 billion by 2010. I believe this project between a leading UK research centre and U.S.-based FEI, a world leader in providing enabling tools, will make important contributions to this new industrial revolution.”

“We are excited to be part of this prestigious regional centre for advanced microscopy,” commented Rob Fastenau, senior vice president of FEI’s NanoResearch and Industry and NanoBiology market divisions and senior executive for FEI in Europe. “The University of Ulster should prove to be an important force in accelerating breakthroughs in nanoscience--the development of new nano-enabled technologies. We look forward to working with the centre for many years to come.”

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FEI’s Tools for Nanotech™, featuring focused ion- and electron-beam technologies, deliver 3D characterization, analysis and modification capabilities with resolution down to the sub-Ångström level and provide innovative solutions for customers working in NanoBiology, NanoResearch and NanoElectronics. With R&D centers in North America and Europe, and sales and service operations in more than 50 countries around the world, FEI is bringing the nanoscale within the grasp of leading researchers and manufacturers and helping to turn some of the biggest ideas of this century into reality. More information can be found on the FEI website at:

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