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Industrial Research Limited

The New Zealand Crown Research Institute (CRI) for Industrial Research & Development (IRL), Lower Hutt, New Zealand

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The New Zealand Institute for Industrial Research & Development (IRL) - May 1996

Industrial Research Limited (IRL) is one of the new government science companies that grew out of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) divisions and the science research groups in the Ministries of Agriculture and Health. Chemistry Division, DSIR, traced its history back to 1865 (the Colonial Laboratory) before this restructuring in 1992.

X-ray diffraction equipment (Metropolitan Vickers) was first installed and operated by George Paterson in 1947. Early work on New Zealand clays was carried out with Morice Fieldes, later of Soil Bureau, DSIR. In 1957, the X-ray facilities were upgraded with a Philips powder diffractometer; Peter Williams began his studies on barbiturate identification and in 1959 went to Cambridge to complete a PhD in crystallography. Peter later lead the Physical Chemistry section which hosted a collection of spectroscopic techniques. Powder diffraction services provided "fingerprinting" for the forensic scientists and supported the mineral, geochemistry, and cement and concrete research groups e.g. developing quantitative methods for estimation of mineral phases in cements and rocks. Single crystal studies focused on studies of polymorphism, in support of the drug identification, and thermally induced phase changes in organic compounds. Others associated with this section were Prof Ray Golding, Dr David Natusch and Prof David Rae.

In 1969, thanks in part to some effective lobbying by Dave Rae prior to his departure to Australia, a Hilger & Watts Y290 was installed and lovingly maintained until the late 1970s by Dr Kevin Brown. Dr Graeme Gainsford joined DSIR in 1974 and immediately became a major user. As well as continuing to provide analytical facilities for the DSIR scientists (Carbohydrate & Organic Sections), collaborative small molecule studies were undertaken with Australian National (Professor Sargeson), Victoria (Professors Ferrier, Curtis and Halton), and Massey (Drs Brodie and Ainscough) Universities and data were collected by Dr Ted Baker (Massey). At the end of the 1980's, as hardware/electronic faults became regular, the decision was taken to concentrate on powder diffraction and to combine with the University of Canterbury in their 1982 purchase of a single crystal Nicolet P3 diffractometer for future data collections. In 1993-94, IRL confirmed its intention to maintain this excellent cooperation by contributing to the upgrade of the diffractometer to the Siemens P4 standard. The laboratory has one generator (Philips PW1140) set aside with single crystal Precession & Weissenberg cameras for preliminary examinations.

The laboratory has continued to develop its expertise in X-ray powder diffraction supporting the Ceramics, Catalysis and Inorganic Materials, and Superconducting teams' research programmes. The Ceramics team lead by Dr Ian Brown operates the facility, still resident in D Block at the Gracefield Site. There are two diffractometers with automatic sample changes: a Bragg Brentano Philips PW1050 with 32 sample changer run with Philips automation and processing plus local software on a Micro Vax II, including the JCPDS database. The second diffractometer has a 16 sample changer. The main generator is also set up with a Huber Hagg-Guinier film camera, while the second generator has an Aton Parr HTK10 High Temperature furnace permanently mounted and automated with Sietronics Siexram microprocessor and software. Mr Martin Ryan is the scientist responsible for the running of the equipment, with computer support from Drs Mark Bowden and Graeme Gainsford.

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Please feel free to send any queries, comments or suggestions to: bws@crystal.uwa.edu.au