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Foundation awards £9 million grants in nanotechnology

The Lloyd’s Register Foundation has awarded grants totalling £9 million to three international consortia in the field of nanotechnology. These grants support research and doctoral training that will support the Foundation’s aims to advance engineering-related education and research and support work that enhances safety of life at sea, on land and in the air.

Professor Richard Clegg, Managing Director of Lloyd’s Register Foundation, said: “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.”

Following its publication of the Foresight review in nanotechnology: the next industrial revolution, the Foundation opened an international call for proposals in August 2014 and these grants are the result. The three grants are:

Designer nanomaterials assembled from individual atomic planes: This work aims to create prototype nanomaterials with designed functional properties through the assembly of atomic planes from a variety of bulk crystals. Such materials could have a broad range of safety applications across many industries including flexible optoelectronics, energy harvesting, gas separation and water desalination. The Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Andre Geim from the University of Manchester is leading this consortium that includes the UK National Graphene Institute, Harvard University, National University of Singapore, ETH Zurich and the Japanese National Institute for Materials Science.

Andre Geim said: “Our consortium combines the strength of several leading groups from around the world who made their names in research on graphene, other atomically-thin materials and their heterostructures. This area has now matured and is ready for applications. We plan to exploit the breakthrough discoveries made by our groups over the last 5-10 years and endeavour into unknown territories, aiming at opening new research fronts and developing fundamentally new technologies. At every step, we will try to align our research efforts with LRF charitable goals.”

Nanotechnology in subsea power infrastructure: This work will explore the potential of copper/carbon nanotube metal matrix composites in the fabrication of electrically conductive materials with enhanced properties for use in subsea power transmission applications. Professor Sir Mark Welland from the University of Cambridge is leading this consortium that includes the National University of Singapore, Texas A&M University, The Institute of Occupational Medicine and Kaneka Holdings. Mark Welland commented: “We are delighted to receive one of the very first nanotechnology grants from the Lloyd’s Register Foundation. The combination of the University of Cambridge, National University Singapore, Texas A&M University, The Institute of Occupational Medicine and Kaneka Holdings makes for a unique and prestigious collaboration to address the challenges of this project. Our ultimate aim is to improve efficiency at which electricity is transmitted across the world but our scientific aims are to demonstrate the efficacy of nanostructured wires using novel manufacturing processes as current carriers.”

International doctoral consortium in nanotechnology: This consortium will build an international cohort of doctoral students to build capability and knowledge in the application of nanotechnologies to support safety of life and property, addressing the areas highlighted in the Foresight Review of Nanotechnology. It will bring together international experts and industrial stakeholders and build on shared capability held in physical infrastructures such as labs, test facilities and specialist equipment. Dr Themis Prodromakis from the University of Southampton will lead the consortium which will be built through a series of open calls over five years. He commented: “The Lloyd’s Register Foundation International Consortium in Nanotechnologies will assemble 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.”

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