UK academy backs eight projects with £22m

October 05, 2020 // By Nick Flaherty
Professor Stephen Beeby at the University of Southampton
The Royal Academy of Engineering in the UK has announced a £22m fund for eight key research projects, including electronic textiles, new compound semiconductors, quantum sensors and composite materials for portable electronic devices.

“These visionary engineers and the projects they will be working on are outstanding examples of why the Academy places such importance on supporting excellence in engineering as part of its strategy to achieve a sustainable society and inclusive economy that works for everyone. We expect great things of them all and I’m confident they will deliver results that will benefit the economy and society as a whole,” said Professor Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Professor Stephen Beeby at the University of Southampton (above) is leading a project to develop a practical platform technology for wearable applications and beyond. His research will exploit printed active materials, flexible circuit technologies and textile engineering to integrate sensing, electronic and energy harvesting/storage functionality within a single textile. This will create reliable e-textile systems that are invisible to the user and require minimal intervention for a range of health and work-related applications.

Professor Emile Greenhalgh at Imperial College London is developing structural power composites that can store energy as part of the structure of a vehicle. These multifunctional composites can be used in aerospace, automotive, portable electronics and infrastructure.

 Professor Martin Kuball at the University of Bristol is researching ultra-wide bandgap materials such as gallium oxide, boron nitride and aluminium nitride. The higher efficiency of the design can be used for a wide range of applications from data centres and motor drives to electric vehicle chargers to smart grids.

Professor Douglas Paul at the University of Glasgow is developing a single-chip cold-atom quantum navigation system small enough to be integrated into a mobile phone. The cold-atom atomic clocks, accelerometers and rotation sensors can be manufactured on single silicon chips and used for navigation without relying on satellites. These use laser light to slow atoms down by quantum processes and reduce their temperature close to absolute zero, enabling accurate atomic clocks and quantum sensors.

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