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Computing at Nanoscience

Computing resources at The Nanoscience Centre include shared, secure data storage, Internet access, desktop and server computing, printing and other general office applications, plus specialised applications for design and simulation.

Depending on your direction of work, certain systems and services from the Department of Physics and the Department of Engineering may also be made available to you. If you are eligible for these services, notably email, you will have probably already have completed an application form. There are also numerous services provided by the University's Computing Service (see such as the University's Hermes email service.

If you are new to The Nanoscience Centre, please read the guidelines and policies below, and for assistance in any area of computing at Nanoscience, contact the Computer Officer, via

Obtaining Access

Before you can access the Nanoscience Centre's computing resources, you will need to become a Registered User of the Centre, and details of how to do this exist elsewhere on this website. Part of this process involves completing and signing an Application Form for Nanoscience Centre Computing Resources which will enable you to obtain a user account and be granted suitable access to all appropriate systems. This form can also be used to apply to have your laptop or other computer connected to the Centre's network. It is essential to consult your supervisor and/or the Computer Officer before attempting to access any computer systems, or to connect any computer to the Nanoscience networks.

Further Internet-connected terminals are available in the Public Workstation Facility (PWF) adjacent to the Part IA teaching laboratory in Physics, though during term time priority is given to undergraduates using them for set course work.

Access to any computing resource depends on acknowledging and abiding by these rules:

1. The policies and procedures of The Nanoscience Centre, as detailed here and in other documents.

2. Cambridge University's Network Division Rules ( ),

3. The JANET Acceptable Use Policy ( ).

4. The University’s policies on computer misuse:

Bringing in your own computer

If you would like to bring in your own computer to The Nanoscience Centre (for instance, a laptop or Lab equipment), you will need to fill in a Application Form for Nanoscience Centre Computing Resources, which can be downloaded here. This form must be completed for all computers that you bring into the Centre, including laptops and lab equipment-controllers, regardless of whether or not you wish to connect the computer(s) to the network.

If you submit a request to connect a computer to the Centre's network, your system will need to be checked for suitability. It will be expected that your computer will already be up to date with anti-virus software and all relevant software patches, and several checks will be carried out. Please note that in some cases, certain computers will be refused from being connected to the network (such as in the case of PCs running Windows 98) and also that The Nanoscience Centre can take no responsibility in the case of loss (including damage or loss of personal data) or theft of your personal property.

Please speak with the Computer Officer if you have further questions.

Printing and Data Storage

Nanoscience has several shared printers in the main office area. If you cannot connect to them, please contact the Computer Officer.

Data storage areas are available for both shared and individual work. These areas are backed-up nightly and in the event of these files being lost, backup copies can normally be restored. Please note that data storage areas on the servers are to be used for work-related files only.

Data Retention Policy

The Centre cannot guarantee to retain data for users beyond 30 days after they have left the Centre. Data left by users who have departed will be removed before 60 days after their departure date.

Passwords and Security

Every reasonable step is taken to keep your data safe, but it is vital that you keep your passwords secret and choose good passwords in the first place. For more guidance on choosing passwords as well as keeping them safe, go to: .

The Intranet

The Nanoscience Intranet (http://intranet/) contains lots of information regarding the Centre and it's personnel and equipment, including booking sheets for laboratory equipment. The Intranet should be a starting point for anyone wishing to find out more about the Centre. Some aspects of this website are also available from elsewhere on the Cambridge University Data Network (via, but access is not permitted from outside the University.

The Website

The Nanoscience website ( is managed and updated in-house. Please speak to the Computer Officer or your supervisor if you wish to update items available on the website.


Email accounts are available on Hermes, which is managed centrally by the Computing Service (click here for more information on how to obtain an account on Hermes).

Any mail program can be used, but Eudora and Outlook are widely in use in Nanoscience. Please note that email should not be used to transfer large files (over about 7Mb). 

Please read the University policy governing the use of computing resources including email. This can be found at .


Software Policy

All users of computers at The Nanoscience Centre must comply with the University's Software Policy (which can be found at: ). The Nanoscience Centre cannot supply software free of charge, so if you require additional software or hardware to carry out your work, please see the appropriate section elsewhere in this document.

If you wish to install any software other than that which is supplied to you by the University, you must request it via the Computer Officer. In most cases, your access permissions will not permit you to install additional software yourself. This is a security measure to help enforce the Nanoscience Centre's commitment to using only legitimately licenced software.

Please note that software acquired through the University is only available to students and employees while at the University, after which it has to be deleted or transferred. The policy may be found at

Antivirus Software

The University currently has a licence that covers a wide range of McAfee anti-virus products. Staff and resident students of the University are licensed to use these products and the license also covers home use (see

Other Software

If you are new to any of the applications that you encounter, please ask the Computer officer, or alternatively, The University Computing Service runs regular courses and offers documentation on many aspects of computing (see

The Centre holds a small number of items of hardware and software for loan to Registered Users of the Centre. If you need to complete a Loan Form, you can download one here.

Obtaining Software and Hardware

The Computer Officer can obtain quotes from preferred suppliers for you and can assist in making any computer-related purchase.

The Centre holds a small number of items of hardware and software for loan to Registered Users of the Centre. If you need to complete a Loan Form, you can download one here.

If you wish to buy any computer-related item, send a request for a supplier quote to , giving details of the item or items you wish to buy, and a quotation will be obtained for you. Once you have received your quotation and wish to proceed, a Purchase Request Form can be downloaded here.

Further Information

If you have any computing-related questions, please contact the Computer Officer for Nanoscience.

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last updated 14-08-2008