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FOCUS UK PHOTONICS Funding received for laser instrument at UK Central Laser Facility

A grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) will pay for the LIFEtime laser instrument in STFC’s Central Laser Facility (CLF) Research Complex at Harwell in the UK. The instrument is expected to provide scientists with vital information about the UV light-induced DNA damage that drives skin cancer. A second grant, providing a total of £1.5 million funding, will pay for a super- resolution microscope for the CLF, which can be used to study the function of almost any organelle or sub-unit within a cell. Looking at the inner workings of cells and proteins and characterising the very subtle changes taking place within them, is fundamental to understanding diseases such as cancer and to finding out how plants can develop resistance to attack from bacteria that can otherwise destroy them. The LIFEtime instrument on the

CLF’s Ultra facility will use ultrafast lasers to record on the same instrument, at the same time, both fast and slow measurements of changes taking place within a sample so that they can be compared. Looking at a sample over different timescales, from the very fast initial reaction that occurs when a laser hits the sample

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(less than one million-millionth of a second) all the way to the ‘slower’ (milliseconds to seconds) follow-on reaction happening in the aftermath, reveals processes that would otherwise be undetectable. Professor Mike Towrie from

the Central Laser Facility, said: ‘Sometimes experiments have to be repeated to gather information at both fast and slow timescales and there is the risk of irreversible damage to samples. For something as delicate as a short DNA base or

protein you want to limit potential damage as much as possible. LIFEtime will enable reactions across both fast and slow timescales to be measured at the same time, saving time, money and of course the samples.’


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Compact Ultrafast Laser (fs) and OPA from Light Conversion. 210-20000nm

NEW Horizon nanosecond OPO from Continuum. 192-2750nm


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Sirah Pulsed Dye lasers. 190-11000nm

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