The capacity to characterise matter – to see its detailed structure and functioning at an atomic and microscopic level – has helped researchers to make breakthroughs in a wide range of fields.
The Australian Government has committed $50 million to characterisation through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) to support four complementary national facilities: the Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility, the National Deuteration Facility, the National Imaging Facility and the Australian Synchrotron. A key principle of NCRIS is that the facilities funded by the program should be accessible to researchers at a low cost and on the basis of merit. Reasonable commercial rates are charged to industry users, of which there are a significant and growing number.
Being involved in the NCRIS method of funding has promoted collaboration by encouraging us to think more broadly about issues in our research community and to develop synergies across Australia. We have identified where expertise lies, where our strengths are and how the existing, internationally respected groups can best support each other. I believe these synergies lead to better research outcomes through shared knowledge, better utilisation of existing and future infrastructure resources and the interaction of technologies in a complementary, rather than competitive, manner.
Professor Graham Galloway, Director of Operations, National Imaging Facility Centre for Magnetic Resonance
Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility (AMMRF)
The Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility (AMMRF) is a national network of advanced microscopy and microanalysis instrumentation with nodes at the University of Sydney (AMMRF headquarters), the University of NSW, the University of Queensland, the University of Western Australia and the South Australian Research Facility (SARF). SARF is operated jointly by Flinders University, the University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia.
AMMRF instruments offer a range of nanostructural characterisation capabilities including optical and electron microscopy and X-ray and ion-beam analytical techniques. The AMMRF also provides worldleading capabilities through state‐of‐the‐art flagship platforms. These include cryo‐electron tomography where deep-frozen biological samples are analysed to determine their three-dimensional structures; high‐resolution scanning electron microscopy and spectroscopy capabilities; and ion probes for high-precision chemical and isotopic analysis and nanoscale imaging.
National Imaging Facility (NIF)
The NIF provides state‐of‐the‐art imaging of animals, plants and materials for the Australian research community. It provides access to molecular imaging instrumentation, including a range of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scanners, live animal imaging equipment including bioluminescence, microCT, ultrasound and intravital microscopy.
Participating organisations in the NIF include the University of Queensland (NIF headquarters) and the Universities of NSW, Sydney, Western Sydney and Adelaide. The NIF includes the Large Animal Research & Imaging Facility (LARIF) at Gilles Plains in South Australia. NIF provides a range of leading‐edge imaging instrumentation, plus advice and assistance in the optimal use of imaging to the research community. This includes access to five flagship instruments, excellent bioinformatics capability with the integration of the high‐dimensional data in a dedicated neuroinformatics system, and the creation of databases of normative data.
National Deuteration Facility (NDF)
The National Deuteration Facility has been established at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) for easy access to the OPAL reactor. The NDF offers the facilities, staff and expertise to produce molecules where all or part of the molecular hydrogen is in the form of the stable (non‐radioactive) isotope deuterium (2H). This enables scientists to use neutron scattering or nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy more effectively in the investigation of the relationship between the structure and function of proteins, DNA, synthetic polymers or other materials known as 'soft matter'. These deuterated molecules can be studied using the small‐angle neutron scattering or neutron reflectivity instruments at the OPAL reactor or used for neutron crystallography studies elsewhere.
Australian Synchrotron and the Australian Synchrotron Research Program
When high‐energy electrons are forced to travel in a circular orbit, they release extremely intense radiation – synchrotron light. Such synchrotron light has many useful properties and can be filtered and directed down ‘beamlines’ for use in a wide range of non‐destructive, high‐resolution, rapid, in‐situ, real‐time imaging and analysis techniques. The Australian Synchrotron, located in Clayton, Victoria, is an advanced third‐generation 3GeV light source with a high‐quality, low‐emittance, stable electron beam that generates synchrotron light of high brilliance covering wavelengths from infrared to hard X‐rays. Synchrotron techniques can generate images and provide elemental, structural and chemical information from diverse sample types ranging from biological to industrial materials.
NCRIS is financially assisting the completion of nine beamlines at the Australian Synchrotron and is facilitating access by Australian researchers to overseas synchrotron facilities through the Australian Synchrotron Research Program (ASRP).
For enquiries about the Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility, please contact:
Professor Simon Ringer
Executive Director & CEO, AMMRF
Australian Key Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis
University of Sydney
SYDNEY NSW 2006
Tel: +61 2 9351 2351
For enquiries about the National Imaging Facility, please contact:
Professor Graham Galloway
Director of Operations, NIF
Centre for Magnetic Resonance
Level 2, Gehrmann Laboratories
University of Queensland
BRISBANE QLD 4072
Tel: +61 7 3365 4239
For enquiries about the National Deuteration Facility, please contact:
Professor Peter Holden
National Deuteration Facility
MENAI NSW 2006
Tel: +61 2 9717 3991
For enquiries about the Australian Synchrotron, please contact:
Dr Steve Gower
External Relations Manager
800 Blackburn Road
CLAYTON VIC 3168
Tel: +61 3 8540 4109
For matters related to management of the NCRIS program, please contact the NCRIS Team by email or by telephone on 02 6276 1245.
For further information about the Australian Microscopy and Microanalysis Research Facility, please see the AMMRF homepage at http://www.ammrf.org.au/
For further information about the National Imaging Facility, please see the NIF homepage at http://www.anif.org.au
For further information about the National Deuteration Facility, please see the NDF homepage at http://www.ansto.gov.au/research/facilities_and_equipment/national_deuteration_facility
For further information about the Australian Synchrotron, please see the Australian Synchrotron homepage at http://www.synchrotron.vic.gov.au