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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory

The Cavendish Laboratory National Facility for Physics is the newest world-class facility supporting the physics community across the UK. It makes Cavendish Laboratory’s state-of-the-art equipment and resources readily accessible to all UK university researchers and facilitates industry access.

Opening its doors to the nation in 2024, the Cavendish Laboratory National Facility will mostly operate from the Ray Dolby Centre, the centrepiece of the new Cavendish Laboratory designed to match the most exacting standards of current research and currently under construction on the West Cambridge campus.

It is supported by the UK Government with a financial contribution of £75m, administered through the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation.

Extensive processing, measurement and characterisation facilities

The extensive measurement and processing facilities in the Ray Dolby Centre will provide state-of-the-art capabilities for studying the full range of sizes and dimensionalities of materials and their applications. Single crystals, thin-films and devices along with novel composites and alloys can be explored in their as-grown form or through lithographic patterning of electronic and optical devices.

This will open avenues for discovering and understanding new physics as well as underpin a range of technological applications where the quantum properties of electrons and photons are exploited. Ushering in of a new era of physics of materials for sustainability, these capabilities are envisaged  to launch entirely new areas of industrial sectors set to tackle global challenges like energy crisis, climate change mitigation, food and health security.

Our existing and growing expertise in quantum multi-functional materials will reinforce this aspect of the National Facility.

For example, to harness energy efficiency, our facilities have the capacity to grow semiconductor wafers incorporating a range of organic and inorganic materials in layered structures by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE), a technique that allows the growth of near perfect, ultra-pure single crystals with atomic monolayer control over their composition. Such precision is essential for the sustainable development of telecommunications, medical and clean industrial process control applications.

We can perform ultra-sensitive measurements of electrical, magnetic, optical and structural properties under a variety of conditions of temperature, pressure, magnetic and electric fields. We can help miniaturise on the one hand, and home in on the nano-meter scale on the other.

An important technique available within the Cavendish Laboratory NF for high-resolution device patterning is electron beam lithography, which allows patterning of lines with a width as small as 10nm.

A resource for the nation

Up to 25% of the use of the specialised research facilities will be made available to the UK research community for their own projects, irrespective of prior or new academic collaborations.

We aim to provide more than just access to equipment–a key attraction will be access to the world-class knowledge base, expert staff scientists and technical staff.

There are also the opportunities to develop new academic collaborations where this adds mutual benefit and value to the project.

With important investment in additional equipment and technical staff, our ambition is to enhance research capabilities locally and nationally, supporting research excellence and collaboration across UK physics departments and industry, inspiring new research and discoveries.

We are currently seeking suggestions from the local and national physics community for new equipment to enhance our National Facility. Our current priority is for advanced characterization equipment that is not widely available to UK physics departments and which could occupy high specification laboratory space in the Ray Dolby Centre.

Making a journey to Cambridge worthwhile

The location of the Cavendish Laboratory NF at the heart of the West Cambridge campus site is a key asset. The Cavendish Laboratory is joining forces with other West Cambridge Departments, including Engineering, Materials Science & Metallurgy and Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology to ease access to a wider range of cutting-edge capabilities and techniques across the site, including facilities that are part of the Sir Henry Royce Institute.

Soon we will be developing an online platform that will provide a single booking system and customer service, to simplify access to this outstanding selection of state-of-the-art facilities for the physical sciences research communities.


  1. The huge new clean room suite nearing completion in the Ray Dolby Centre
  2. A schematic diagram of a split-gate transistor forming quantum dots used for quantum computing applications (Credit: Equinox graphics).
  3. Examples of the facilities to be made available to the physical science community. (Left) The electron beam Nano writer. (Right) The GENII-A deposition facility.
  4. Image of the fabricated quantum dot nanoelectronic device.