Research in potential hazards of nanotechnology will be the focus of the FEI Centre for Advanced Imaging, which opened today at the University of Ulster's Coleraine campus in Northern Ireland. The center, funded by a grant from the UK Science Research Infrastructure Fund, will provide electron microscopes manufactured by FEI, of Hillsboro, Ore., for research in the university's Biomedical Sciences Research Institute, by other faculty at the university and for its industrial partners, including London-based Unilever Research. FEI, which makes instruments for nanoscale imaging, analysis and prototyping, has equipped the center with its Quanta ESEM (environmental scanning electron microscope), a Tecnai cryo-transmission electron microscope and a Nova NanoLab, a DualBeam scanning electron microscope/focused ion beam system for cryotherapy (cryoagulation; tissue destruction using freezing applications). It said these tools will enable scientists to analyze and manipulate particles at atomic and intranuclear levels and to record their movements and effects in 3-D and real time. Advances incorporated in the Nova NanoLab were developed through collaboration between FEI and George McKerr, director of bioimaging and a senior lecturer in the University of Ulster's school of biomedical sciences. Professor Vyvyan Howard, head of the university's Bioimaging Research Group, said nanoparticle toxicology investigations are becoming increasingly important. "Every single product that is developed containing free nanoparticles will have to undergo a toxicological safety assessment," she said. The center will employ five full-time research scientists.