15 March 1999

UQ attracts top two ARC equipment grants to Queensland for 1999

University of Queensland researchers have attracted the top two Australian Research Council (ARC) equipment grants to Queensland for 1999.

The University received seven of the 14 Research Infrastructure Equipment and Facilities (RIEF) grants to Queensland.

The Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis (CMM) headed by Professor Ian Mackinnon attracted $700,000 toward a new-generation electron microscope while the Centre for Drug Design and Development (3D Centre) headed by Professor Peter Andrews was awarded $325,000 for a mass spectrometer.

CMM deputy director Associate Professor John Drennan said the funds would be used to purchase the latest in electron microscopy technology for University of Queensland scientists.

The microscope is capable of obtaining analytical information from regions as small as one atom across in a variety of both inorganic and biological specimens. It would be purchased from either Japan or Europe and installed at the CMM by the end of the year, he said.

The grant would also be used to purchase a scanned probe microscope for atomic-scale analysis of surfaces including thin films on metals, he said.

"These tools will be routinely used by chemists, molecular and cellular biologists, physicists, materials scientists, earth scientists and mechanical and chemical engineers," Dr Drennan said.

"Acquisition of this state-of-the art instrumentation will enable the South-east Queensland research community to maintain and extend international competitiveness across a broad range of scientific and engineering disciplines."

3D Centre deputy director Associate Professor Paul Alewood said current mass spectrometers only enabled one sample to be examined at a time - the new highly sensitive, high throughput mass spectrometer would allow 96 samples to be analysed at once.

"The mass spectrometer measures the exact mass of natural and synthesised molecules confirming correct structure for chemists, biochemists and molecular biologists," Dr Alewood said.

He said the mass spectrometer would be installed at the 3D Centre by the middle of 1999.

For more information, contact Dr Drennan (telephone 07 3365 6353) or Dr Alewood (telephone 07 3365 1270).