Oxford Instruments

Oxford Instruments
Oxford Instruments plc
Type Public limited company
Industry Top level markets include research and academia, industry, energy, environment, security, health
Founded 1959
Headquarters Abingdon, Oxfordshire
Key people Nigel Keen (Chairman)
Jonathan Flint (CEO)
Products tools for quality control, elemental analysis, metals identification, coating thickness measurement, rock core analysis; cryogenic systems for fundamental physics research; detectors for use on electron microscopes for chemical and structural analysis; plasma etch and deposition tools; superconducting wire and cable; x-ray tubes;cryopumps and helium compressors
Revenue £262.3 million (2011)[1]
Operating income £27.5 million (2011)[1]
Net income £32.2 million (2011)[1]
Employees 1,498 (2011)[1]
Website www.oxford-instruments.com

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 a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.



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 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. Further innovations included the development of active shielding, whereby fringe fields hazardous to pacemaker wearers, causing difficulty and expense in siting, were virtually eliminated.[4]

Oxford Instruments was not able to capitalise on these inventions itself, granting royalty-free license to Philips and General Electric whilst developing a joint venture with Siemens in 1989: this was dissolved in 2004.[5]


  • NanoAnalysis - X-ray microanalysis systems for electron microscopes for the characterisation of materials and matter to the smallest scale. Techniques include Energy Dispersive and Wave Length Dispersive X-ray technology and Electron Backscatter Diffraction. It supplies the leading, high performance, unique large area silicon drift detector, X-Max.
  • Industrial Analysis - elemental analysis using X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) and Optical Emission Spectroscopy (OES), XRF coating thickness measurement, X-ray tube manufacture and Space Technology. 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.
  • 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.
  • Austin Scientific Instruments - supplies, repairs and refurbishes cryopumps and helium compressors for the semiconductor industry -for cryo compressors, consumables and refurbishment
  • Magnetic Resonance - benchtop NMR and DNP-NMR (Dynamic Nuclear Polarisation) for industrial quality control and bioscience applications. Industrial applications include rock core analysis, fluorine in toothpaste, oil in sunflower seeds, fat in chocolate
  • OiService - service and support network, with offices and representatives world-wide. Includes a specialist MRI service division.


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