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ICON nanotech

Harnessing the power of nanotechnology


Since 2015, Lloyd’s Register Foundation has been bringing together some of the world’s best scientists and engineers in a global effort to harness the power of nanotechnology to create a safer, smarter, more interconnected future for humanity. From its beginnings at the University of Southampton, the International Consortium on Nanotechnology has worked in every continent, developing global capability in this powerful and emerging field.

Nanotechnology - the study of extremely small things – is at the heart of many of the most exciting developments in engineering and science today. Materials developed to be applied in layers much smaller than the eye can see are enabling smarter, safer ways of delivering the fundamentals of society.

Nanotechnologies are being used in almost every area that has an impact on human safety and wellbeing - to purify water, carry electricity along the ocean floor, improve the absorption of drugs and in automated manufacturing technologies that take humans out of harm’s way.

Ensuring that humanity gains the maximum benefit from nanotechnologies is fundamental to Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s core mission – to protect the safety of life and property.

The Foundation’s Managing Director, Professor Richard Clegg, explains: “Nanotechnology will impact almost every industry and has the potential to underpin new safety related applications and developments. The Foundation’s grants will develop new knowledge and skills to make sure society benefits from exciting advances in nanotechnology.”

ICoN is a global network for building global capacity and knowledge in the application of nanotechnologies to support the safety of life and property. Led by Professor Themis Prodromakis of the University of Southampton, it works across 16 countries, successfully engaging over 200 individuals, 40 companies and 51 PhD students. As well as facilitating world-leading research, ICoN delivers STEM outreach activities for young people.

Themis explains: “The Lloyd’s Register Foundation International Consortium on Nanotechnologies brings together the world’s leading universities, research institutions and innovative companies to help them tackle many of today’s most challenging issues by recruiting talented PhD students from every continent.”

ICoN has provided a unique model for international collaboration. The 51 ICoN projects form a global network with lead institutions based in 16 countries from Canada through Europe and South East Asia to Australia. ICoN is currently working to raise awareness in under-represented regions such as Africa and Latin America.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, funds had been secured to develop and run a preliminary series of workshops, using nanotechnology expertise from within the ICoN network, to address specific challenges in central Africa.

ICoN has developed a network of stakeholders including students, supervisors, peer reviewers and industry partners (from multinational corporations such as Airbus and the LR Group to start ups like Nanotypos). It has also reached out to the wider community, with events, social media and 100s of publications in academic journals and conferences.

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