Research in the IsoLab at Lancaster University

Research Facilities

The quantum optics module in the IsoLab

Isolab

This is a suite of 3 ultra-low noise laboratories. It minimises noise vibration, noise and electromagnetic disturbance to provide one of the most advanced 'ultra-clean' measurement environments in the world. The building is embedded in the ground and separated from other buildings. Further isolation from the surrounding environment comes from three 50-tonne floating experimental platforms.

Isolab

Quantum Technology Centre

This unique facility contains £4 million worth of nanotechnology equipment, including state-of-the-art clean-room fabrication facilities. These are capable of producing objects with a lateral dimension of 10nm. This research is further supported by our £1.5 million molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) reactors. We use these to create novel structures for research projects. There is also a dedicated electron-beam writer and electron and atomic-force microscopy.

Quantum Technology Centre
Quantum technology lab technician
The telescope on the roof of the Physics building

Observatory

The Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw Observatory is situated on the roof of the Lancaster University Physics Department. It is named in recognition of Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw's support of the facility.

Overview

The observatory, comprising the telescope, dome and the adjacent laboratory, is named after Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw who donated the original Celestron 11" telescope. She was a former Pro-Chancellor of the University, Lord Mayor of Manchester, outstanding mathematician and a keen amateur astronomer. The observatory was formally opened by Sir Patrick Moore on 20th May 2002.

The main facility of the observatory is now a pier mounted Celestron CGE1400 XLT 14" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. The dome was designed and built by Dr Glyn Marsh, a prominent local amateur astronomer. Situated on the roof of the Physics Department, the observatory has excellent views of most of the sky. The observatory was first used in 2001 with the MPhys students investigating its capabilities. The prime use at this stage was CCD imaging. Since then, MPhys students have carried out more quantitative investigations into sunspots, high and low-resolution spectroscopy, and calibration of the system sensitivity. The observatory is now also used by the recently formed Lancaster University Astronomical Society.

Technical Information

  • Location of the Observatory
  • Latitude 54° 0' 39" N
  • Longitude 2° 47' 03" W

Ultra-Low Temperature Labs

The ULT facilities feature custom-made dilution refrigerators, built in-house with nuclear cooling stages. These allow us to cool materials and devices to some of the coldest temperatures ever measured on earth. This enables our researchers to make ground-breaking discoveries about superfluids, produce purified helium-4, and study the ion transport in quantum fluids.

The Blue Fors devices in the ULT laboratory
The Large Hadron Collider at CERN

Partner Facilities

Because of our participation in international collaborations, we have access to a wide range of equipment.

Our researchers are involved in the ATLAS project at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Here they have contributed to the discovery of the Higgs Boson. Our particle physicists are carrying out award-winning experiments on neutrinos at JPARC and Fermilab. This was awarded the 2016 Breakthrough Prize for the discovery of neutrino oscillations.

We are a member of the Cockcroft Institute for Accelerator Science and Technology. This is based at Daresbury and headed by a Lancaster physicist.

Our astrophysicists use the world's most powerful telescopes such as:

  • Hubble Space Telescope
  • European Southern Observatory, including ALMA and VLT

We are also involved in the scientific planning for several new telescopes and instruments. These will come online in the next 5-10 years, and will revolutionise research in astrophysics. These include:

  • 4MOST spectrograph
  • Large Synoptic Survey Telescope
  • European Extremely Large Telescope
  • ESA's Euclid mission
  • ESA's FLARE mission
  • James Webb Space Telescope

Underpinning these activities is the research of our theoretical and mathematical physicists. They have made major contributions to the quantum transport in electronics including:

  • graphene
  • molecular electronics
  • photonic structures
  • general relativity and electromagnetism

Extensive numerical work is carried out at large-scale computing facilities, including Lancaster's High-End Computing Cluster.