August 11, 2016, by Liz Cass

Tiny logo celebrates big ambition

SEM image of fine bridal lace8It might be invisible to the naked eye but a minuscule logo has been created to celebrate the great and the good of Nottingham.

University of Nottingham scientists, based at The Nanoscale and Microscale Research Centre (NMRC) at University Park, have etched a Nottingham in Parliament Day logo onto a piece of Nottingham bridal lace.

Nottingham in Parliament Day will take place on Tuesday October 25 2016 when more than 60 institutions and businesses, led by The University of Nottingham, will come together in Westminster to shout about their city.

A series of events have been planned to celebrate Nottingham’s heritage and future, and to show policy makers its strength as a seat of economic investment, growth, collaboration and innovation.

During the British Empire, Nottingham was world-renowned for its manufacture of exquisite lace with beautiful patterns.  By eye, the ace appears to have an open net-like design, however, closer inspection by the NMRC team revealed an intricate weaving of threads.

Scientists, who etched a nano birthday message to the Queen on a Corgi hair earlier this year, were able to etch the 0.04mm logo into a single thread in the lace using Focussed Ion Beam technology.

Professor Andrei Khlobystov, Director of the NMRC, said “Weaving a fine lace requires manipulation of very thin threads on the threshold of what the naked eye can see. However, the wonders of _DSC9942electron microscopy and focused ion beam enable us to study and manipulate the matter with a much higher precision than ever before.

“The recently launched NMRC provides a unique set of instrumentation and world-class expertise in nanotechnology that may give Nottingham a similar boost as the lace industry did in the 19th century.”

The NMRC opened on the 20th April 2016 and is a new cross-faculty research centre dedicated to enabling and advancing world-leading nanoscale and microscale research. The NMRC offers a suite of state of the art instrumentation and allied expertise for structural and chemical analysis across the length scales, from hundreds of microns to sub-nanometre, from cells down to individual atoms. In addition to accessible instrumentation the Centre also offers a dedicated training area and flexible research space for specific collaborative projects.

The NMRC facility will host a unique suite of 20 major instruments, including 14 electron microscopes, offering a diverse range of capabilities to facilitate the imaging and analytical investigation of a wide variety of materials. The Centre will also host a state of the art electron beam lithography system; a powerful suite of surface characterisation equipment (X-ray photoelectron spectrometers, Raman microscopy); and a comprehensive sample preparation laboratory.

Dr Chris Parmenter of the NMRC was able to image the Nottingham manufactured fine bridal lace, donated to the Research Centre by Elizabeth Cooke from Quintessential English Lace, using a technique called Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) down to the micrometre scale.

After coating the lace in a fine layer of platinum, electrons are used to create an image at this small scale.

Nottingham Lace under the microscope:

Nottingham fine bridal lace, kindly donated by Elizabeth Cooke from Quintessential English Lace.SEM image of fine bridal laceSEM image of fine bridal lace2

SEM image of fine bridal lace3SEM image of fine bridal lace4SEM image of fine bridal lace5


SEM image of fine bridal lace6SEM image of fine bridal lace7  NIPD logo etched into single thread in the lace

More information is available from Andrei Khlobystov in the School of Chemistry at The University of Nottingham,; or Karen Alvey, Research and Business Manager at the Nanoscale and Microscale Research Centre on +44 (0) 115 7486340,

Posted in Government RelationsScience