Oxford Instruments

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Oxford Instruments plc
Public limited company
Industry Top level markets include research and academia, industry, energy, environment, security, health
Founded 1959
Headquarters Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Key people
Alan Thomson (Chairman)
Ian Barkshire (CEO)
  • Analysers
  • Atomic force microscopes
  • Coating thickness measurement analysers
  • Cryogenic systems
  • CT & MRI systems, maintenance & parts
  • Electron spectroscopes
  • Microanalysis systems
  • Nanomanipulation & nanofabrication
  • Plasma, ALD & ion beam
  • Scanning probe microscopes
  • Spectrometers
  • Superconducting magnets and wire
  • Thin film & tailored UHV systems
  • X-ray tubes and integrated sources
Revenue £350.8 million (2013)[1]
£49.7 million (2013)[1]
£22.0 million (2013)[1]
Website www.oxford-instruments.com
The original Osney Mead building of Oxford Instruments in west Oxford, now used as a church.

Oxford Instruments plc is a United Kingdom manufacturing and research company that designs and manufactures tools and systems for industry and research. The company is headquartered in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England, with sites in the United Kingdom, United States, Europe, and Asia. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange.


The company was founded by Sir Martin Wood in 1959 with help from his wife Audrey, to manufacture superconducting magnets for use in scientific research, starting in his garden shed in Northmoor Road, Oxford, England.[2] It was the first substantial commercial spin-out company from the University of Oxford[3] and was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1983.[2]

It had a pioneering role in the development of magnetic resonance imaging, providing the first superconducting magnets for this application. The first commercial MRI whole body scanner was manufactured at its Osney Mead factory in Oxford in 1980 for installation at Hammersmith Hospital, London.[4] Further innovations included the development of active shielding, whereby fringe fields hazardous to pacemaker wearers, causing difficulty and expense in siting, were virtually eliminated.[5]

Oxford Instruments was not able to capitalise on these inventions itself, granting royalty-free licence to Philips and General Electric whilst developing a joint venture with Siemens in 1989: this was dissolved in 2004.[6]


  • NanoAnalysis – X-ray microanalysis systems, manipulators and gas injection systems for electron and ion beam microscopes for the preparation and characterisation of materials and matter to the smallest scale. Techniques include Energy Dispersive and Wave Length Dispersive X-ray technology, Electron Backscatter Diffraction, and in situ lift-out. It supplies a high performance, large area silicon drift detector, X-Max. As of June 2011, it also supplies Omniprobe Products.
  • Industrial Analysis – elemental analysis using X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) and Optical Emission Spectroscopy (OES), XRF coating thickness measurement. Its hand-held XRF analyser, X-MET is used for metals identification, RoHS compliance testing, PMI, lead in paint and drywall testing. Its OES range of products are used in the metal and steel industries for sorting and identification. Benchtop NMR for industrial quality control and bioscience applications. Industrial applications include rock core analysis, fluorine in toothpaste, oil in sunflower seeds, fat in chocolate
  • X-ray Technology – X-ray tube manufacture and Space Technology.
  • Plasma Technology – tools and leading-edge processes for the engineering of micro- and nano-structures. Technologies include plasma etch and deposition, fabrication and HVPE. Its products are used in the research and manufacture of semi-conductors, High Brightness LEDs and photovoltaic cells.
  • NanoScience – creating sample environments for measurement at low temperature and high Magnetic field, for physical science applications down to the atomic scale. Its key application is in fundamental physics research for research into quantum computing, for example.
  • Superconducting Technology – production of low temperature superconducting wires.
  • Austin Scientific Instruments – supplies, repairs and refurbishes cryopumps and helium compressors for the semiconductor industry -for cryo compressors, consumables and refurbishment
  • Healthcare – service and support network, with offices and representatives world-wide. Includes a specialist MRI service division.
  • Asylum Research – Atomic force microscopy (AFM) for both materials and bioscience applications.
  • Andor Technology – developer and manufacturer of high performance light measuring solutions (scientific digital cameras).


  1. ^ a b c "Preliminary Results 2013" (PDF). Oxford Instruments. Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Sir Martin Wood and Oxford Instruments" (PDF). Oxford University. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  3. ^ "High-tech UK industry; Oxford Instruments". CASE. 2011-07-04. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  4. ^ "MRI Scanner (1980)". Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Scheme. Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board. 2011-06-02. Retrieved 2012-01-06. 
  5. ^ "Superconducting magnets: The heart of NMR". Ingenia. February 2004. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 
  6. ^ "Siemens Acquires Oxford Instruments' Stake In Oxford Magnet Technology". PR Newswire. 2004. Retrieved 2011-09-17. 

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