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EPSRC Award Winners

10 November, 2009  

Research projects into the superconducting material niobium carbonitride, thermoelectric temperature sensors and the use of Porphyrin-DNA, have been finalised as the winners of this year’s Engineering Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Awards for Young Scientists.

The EPSRC provided the awards as a way of encouraging young scientists and engineers to promote the underlying potential of emerging micro and nanotechnologies and to raise the profile of UK academic research in nanotechnology, as well as providing networking opportunities between researchers and members of UK and International business communities.

The awards, focused on applications within Healthcare Life Sciences, Energy Environment and Materials Devices, were announced at this year’s UK Nano Emerging Technologies Forum, hosted by the Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network (NanoKTN), one of the UK’s primary knowledge-based networks for Micro and Nanotechnologies, and UK Trade  Investment (UKTI).

Mark Raine, Department of Physics, Durham University, was awarded first prize for his research into improving the upper critical magnetic field of the superconducting material niobium carbonitride. If successful, this material could provide a new class of nanocrystalline high field superconductors that would facilitate step-change improvements in superconducting magnets, and hence, improve MRI scanners, energy storage devices and fusion reactors.

Mark Raine comments on the awards, “Winning this award shows I have captured the attention of others and the recognition is a wonderful encouragement for the team I work with. I am at a very exciting time in my research and this has given an additional motivating factor in the pursuit of my goal. These awards are so valuable as they allow us to see what work is being carried out in areas of critical importance and I would recommend them to others looking to promote their work.”

Second place was awarded to a research poster by Joe Atherton, also at Durham University, whose research is based on microfabrication technologies to create thermoelectric temperature sensors with a spatial resolution of around 1-20microns. The eventual aim of the project is to create a probe which is sensitive enough to determine the thermal properties of plant leaves and link these properties to the water content of the leaf/plant. Such a device would allow real-time monitoring of the water-needs of a crop and allow tailored irrigation, conserving water whilst also improving crop yields.

Thao Nguyen Nguyen, University of Southampton, awarded third place, looked at the use of Porphyrin-DNA as a scaffold for Nanoarchitectures. The research paid particular attention to the synthesis of porphyrin DPP (diphenyl porphyrin) and its attachment onto DNA to study the structure and electronic properties of the DNA-porphyrin arrays.

Chris Jones, Head of RCUK Nanoscience Programme at EPSRC comments, “The awards create a channel where basic nanotechnology can be taken through to application.”

Jones continues, “Embedding an awareness within the next generation of researchers about the importance of impact, will strengthen a problem-driven approach to research within academia and in doing so, enable genuine solutions to emerge to the problems that business and society face on a daily basis. The winners of this year’s awards are an inspiring group of young researchers, whose work will benefit business and society.”

Toby Gill of the NanoKTN adds, “The EPSRC awards encourages uptake from young scientists and provides them with the opportunity to communicate their research to a broader audience, one that they would not normally expect to meet. The experience of meeting this wider community is aimed at focusing the researchers’ minds on where their research could have impact in the modern world.”

Established by the Technology Strategy Board, the NanoKTN is managed by Centre for Process Innovation Ltd, a leading technology development and consulting company.