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Physical and Chemical Sciences facilities

20 October 2023

UC has excellent facilities and technology to support your studies. They include our Mount John Astronomical Observatory in Tekapo and the Rutherford Regional Science and Innovation Centre in Christchurch. Check out our Physical and Chemical Sciences facilities.


We have excellent facilities and technology that meet undergraduate and postgraduate student needs as well as international academic standards. Jewels in the crown include Mount John Astronomical Observatory in Tekapo and the Rutherford Regional Science and Innovation Centre in Christchurch.

Mass Spectrometry Facility

The Mass Spectrometry facility is currently staffed by Dr Marie Squire.

The Mass Spectrometry Facility of the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences provides analytical services for the researchers in the School, other researchers in the University of Canterbury and users outside the University.  

Bruker Maxis 3G: This is an Ultra High Resolution Time of Flight (UHR-TOF) tandem mass spectrometer offering accurate mass analysis, high resolution and high sensitivity across the entire dynamic range. Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS) facilities are also available.

Shimadzu GC-MS: This instrument is a ‘hands-on’ spectrometer and is available to all trained research workers. It is well set up for automated analyses. The NIST commercial library is available for assistance with identification of unknowns. A matching GC-FID is also available.

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Facility

The facility is staffed by Dr Marie Squire.

We have two state-of-the-art JEOL NMR spectrometers here at UC.  We have a 400 MHz and a 600 MHz offereing high end flexibility within the research facilities.

These instruments are ‘hands-on’ spectrometers and are available to all trained research workers and provide routine 1D and 2D NMR characterisation based on 1H, 13C, 19F and 31P NMR. They are also available to those wanting multinuclear NMR analysis and variable temperature studies.

X-Ray Crystallography

This facility is staffed by Dr Matt Polson.

Small molecule X-ray crystallography has been a feature of research activity at Canterbury since 1954. Current equipment includes a Bruker CCD/SMART area detector, excellent ethernet access to a Pentium Pro and four 486DX PC computers, 3 IBM RISC6000 plus one VAX ALPHA fast processors. All data are collected using a low temperature dry nitrogen stream as coolant. Around 400 intensity data sets are collected annually. Half of these relate to research inside the department and a further third underpin research in three other New Zealand Universities and one industrial research laboratory. The remaining capacity is used to collect data for research groups around the world e.g. Malaysia, Ireland, USA, Australia, and in several research collaborations with scientists mainly in India and China.

University of Canterbury ICP-MS Facility

ICP-MS isan analytical technique for simultaneously measuring low concentrations of metals in a wide range of matrices. The instrument is a joint initiative between the Colleges of Science and Engineering. This service is available to all researchers within the University of Canterbury and the wider community. For further information about the ICP-MS service please contact Rob Stainthorpe or Dr Sally Gaw or visit the ICP-MS Learn page (for UC staff and students only).

Other Instrumentation

Atomic Absorption

Contact for these instruments is Dr Marie Squire.

The School of Physical and Chemical Sciences manages Aotearoa New Zealand's largest telescopes at the University of Canterbury Mount John Observatory, near Lake Tekapo.

We also have field stations at Scott Base and Antarctica, where UC conducts meteor and atmospheric research.

Medical physics activities occur at Christchurch and St Georges Hospitals.

The new $216 million Rutherford Regional Science and Innovation Centre (RRSIC) gives Chemistry, Physics, Biochemistry and Astronomy students the benefit of the most modern university science and research facilities in the Southern Hemisphere.

The hub for Canterbury's science and innovation network will be dynamic and adaptable to the diverse needs of today's learners. The centre has been purposefully designed to encourage innovation and support flexible learning and teaching methods, with:

  • State-of-the-art laboratories
  • Built-in technologies
  • Informal social and study spaces.

It will enable easy interactions between departments, investigative laboratory research, online work, and individual or group learning. Such interconnectivity means that science education at UC will be delivered in a way that is unique in the tertiary sector in Aotearoa New Zealand.

It also features an Innovation Hub where students will be able to build knowledge and networks while working on industry projects.

The library provides a central resource facility for research and Canterbury carries most of the leading scientific journals in the fields of physical science. 

UC has plenty of learning locations for the scientific-minded. They can be found investigating and discovering around the globe - from the leafy suburb of Ilam in Christchurch to the largest international dark sky reserve in the world, from the CERN particle accelerator in Switzerland to the extreme continent of Antarctica.

Applied learning happens in laboratory sessions and on fieldtrips, using facilities that include:

  • An internationally important astronomical observatory at Mt John, Tekapo, with computer-controlled instruments and cryogenic detectors. This UC-operated observatory is Aotearoa New Zealand's leading observatory. It is situated in the 4367 square kilometre Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve — the world's largest such reserve.
    Find out what facilities are operated there, how the weather is looking in Tekapo, and who can book the telescope.
  • UC-constructed Hercules, a high resolution spectograph to search for planets and conduct improved stellar astrophysics.
  • The world-leading MARS spectral X-ray imaging scanner.
  • Our technology is of an international standard. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, electron spin resonance, mass spectrometers, X-ray crystallography, X-ray diffraction, as well as laser and computer facilities are available to all research personnel. See the complete list of technology available here.
  • UC was one of the founding investors in the Australian Synchrotron. New Zealand researchers get access to the Synchrotron's beamlines. This facility is one of the largest and most important items of science infrastructure in the Southern Hemisphere.

A rare scientific instrument, the Cooke 6-inch refractor telescope was made in 1864 and used by James Townsend of Christchurch before donating it to Canterbury College where it was housed in the Arts Centre Observatory Tower from 1896 onwards, introducing people of all ages to Astronomy for more than 110 years.

Then the February 2011 earthquake hit Christchurch and the Tower was damaged. The telescope was recovered from the rubble and is able to be restored.

The funds to restore the telescope have been generously donated by UC Alumnus Professor David Teece and his family, but funds are still sought for education and outreach programmes and future maintenance. Read more.

Welcome to the Glass Workshop

The Glass Workshop at the University of Canterbury plays an important part in the high-quality research produced within the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences.


Where Can You Find the Glass Workshop?

The Glass Workshop is located in the West Building on level 6 (turn left when exiting the lift). 

For more information contact Rob McGregor at:

University of Canterbury Glass Workshop
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

Phone: +6433693100

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