Small Items of Research Equipment at the University of Surrey

Lead Research Organisation: University of Surrey
Department Name: DVC (Research and Innovation)

Abstract

This application for small scale equipment was developed from responses elicited from ECRs, defined as EPSRC funded postgraduate researchers and postdoctoral researchers, fellows (funded as independent researchers through a range of fellowship grants) and new members of staff (recruited at lecturer grade within the past academic year) and EPSRC first grant holders. The internal process involved emails and briefing meetings for ECRs, culminating in the submission of a one page proposal for the small scale equipment item(s) they had identified. The result was overwhelming, with approximately £2m of eligible applications submitted for this call. This proposal has been constructed using the top quartile of these applications, with funding allocated to defined areas of research excellence which are largely, but not exclusively, in proportion to the current EPSRC funding portfolio of the University of Surrey.

This proposal seeks to demonstrate how our proposed small scale equipment allocation maps on to the EPSRC shaping capability exercise and addresses the grand challenges facing the economy and society as a whole. In constructing this proposal we have used the input from ECRs and have indicated how the investment supports their research and career development. We have used mini case studies to demonstrate the depth and breadth of activities planned, how the funding will be used and which ECRs it will benefit. These case studies also show, where possible, how the funds will be used innovatively to achieve a greater value from the equipment base. Examples include, developing national capability through funding for an EPSRC national centre and medium scale facility, developing characterisation capability for EPSRC Research Engineers in an EPSRC Industrial Doctoral Centre and improving equipment sharing across the University.

The purchase of equipments will not only enhance the research capacity of the ECRs directly involved but further encourage the whole research ommunity at the University to work collaboratively across research groups and centres to utilise the new equipment and enhance capabilities.

To further support the ECRs, the University of Surrey will provide training tailored to the development needs of the individual including workshops in leadership development, bid writing and research impact. The effectiveness of the training will be seen as all supported ECR will produce a mini case study to demonstrate the impact of the purchased equipment on them as researchers, their associated research group and the wider community. These case studies will be sent to EPSRC in the autumn of 2013.

To ensure maximum benefit to ECRs, all of the £622k (£498k requested from EPSRC as an 80% contribution) will be used to finance small "equipment" with the University bearing the FEC costs associated with technician and academic time to run the grant and install and maintain the small "equipment" and train and develop those who will use it being borne by the University (this accounts for an additional £86k of added value).

We believe that we have strong project management and financial controls in place to ensure that the majority of the funding will be spent within 3 months of the start of the grant, with all items having been delivered by 31st March 2013.

Planned Impact

The EPSRC Small Scale Equipment call has the potential to significantly impact on a number of beneficiaries as a result of the investment in the research base and associated ECRs. Due to the scale of equipment to be purchased, it is not possible to demonstrate the impact on all beneficiaries however, the below groups have been identified to provide a flavour for the scale and type of impact, other examples are given in boxes 1-6 of the Case for Support.:-

Academic: Career Development
Early Career Researchers (ECR) across the EPSRC domains will benefit from the Small Scale Equipment Funding Support. The call has enabled them to independently participate, or lead small groups in the development of a research bid. The call has provided the support to enable them to consider their future research direction and to begin to develop their leadership skills required for independent research. The purchase of these small scale equipments will allow the ECRs the freedom to validate their own hypothesis in a supportive and nurturing environment to foster new collaborations and launch a new generation of research leaders.

Business/Industry: Technology Development
Funding to support small scale equipment in the pursuit of research excellence has the potential to create technologies for commercial applications. Specifically equipment requested by the Chemistry ECRs will enable test pouch cells for super capacitor devices to be scaled up for industrial use. There is the potential to engage industry partners in the development of the test pouches. Specifically such industry testing will ensure sector relevance and provide an independent set of results relating to energy and power densities which may lead to novel technology with a commercial value.

Business/Industry: Commercialisation
The Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) has asked for small scale equipment to enhance the current organic photovoltaic device characterisation asset base. Research within organic photovoltaics is currently a key area, with EPSRC recognising it as an area of growth within their portfolio. The proposed equipment will enable a better understanding of how to enhance the light absorption of fabricated devices enabling the ATI to achieve efficiency levels that are commercially viable. The proposed equipment and subsequent research will provide the necessary breakthroughs to propel the UK to forefront of organic photovoltaic technology development and commercialisation.

Public Sector (National, Regional and Local): Police
Small Scale Equipment funding from EPSRC will be used to augment the current equipment base within the Ion Beam Centre (IBC). Funding will be used to increase the sample accuracy, scanning capabilities and sample processing speeds to develop new knowledge in fingerprint chemistry. This will have a significant impact on police and anti-terror investigations, leading to faster and a greater number of detections of crime in the UK as well as abroad. It is important to note with the recent closure of the Forensic Science Service, investment is key to ensuring the UK retains its sector lead. The improved technological capabilities will also enable the researchers to continue their excellent research in forensic science which will be invaluable in advising criminal investigation practices and policy.

Public Sector (National, Regional and Local): NHS
Small Scale Equipment has been requested by the Department of Computing to enable the development and prototyping of software to facilitate Human Computer Interaction (HCI) studies involving clinicians and patients within the NHS utilising patient records. The equipment will enable large scale analysis of longitudinal datasets to support NHS clinicians manage patients with chronic diseases.
 
Description The grant was used to purchase items of key equipment specifically to benefit the work of more than 90 early-career researchers (ECRs) in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, with the purpose of helping them to develop as independent researchers. Outputs from research facilitated by the grant include journal papers and conference presentations/papers, with several PhD dissertations already submitted or in preparation. ECRs have contributed to the development of future funding bids to EPSRC and other funders, as well as being involved in initiating new research collaborations. Activity funded by the grant has also led to enhanced collaboration with NPL, underpinning Surrey's (plus others) participation in the strategic alliance with NPL and the successful bid to BIS (by Surrey, Strathclyde) for the management of NPL.

Key activities supported by the grant are summarised below, indicating research groupings which have benefitted from enhanced capabilities in ICT, Engineering, Physical Sciences and Mathematical Sciences, addressing themes/grand challenges including Digital Economy, Energy, Global Uncertainties, Healthcare Technologies, Living with Environmental Change, and Manufacturing the Future.

Chemistry Department
Materials and Devices for Sustainable Energy Group - Facility for scale-up of fabrication and testing of next generation electrical energy storage, supercapacitors, to the pre-commercial stage.
Strategic New Inorganic Materials Group - Equipment for nanoparticle synthesis.
Synthetic Organic Chemistry Group - Automated chromatography system for purification of reaction products, utilised by a wide range of researchers/UG students, saving reactants, time and money.
Biosensors Research Group - Equipment for characterisation of conducting polymer/nanomaterial fibres for sensor applications.

Physics Department
Radiation Detectors Group - Motion control/alignment systems for hyperspectral imaging and micro-computed tomography facilities, improving set-up procedure and turn-around time in a busy laboratory.

Maths Department
Biosystems Group - Enhanced image processing and quantitative tissue analysis facilities for researchers applying mathematical, computational, and statistical techniques to research questions in the life sciences; video conferencing equipment to enable international collaborations.

Electronic Engineering Department
Ion Beam Centre (IBC) - Enhanced capabilities in: scanning for heavier ions and accuracy of ion count for precise dosimetry; microscope facilities for sample analysis and ion implantation; online spectro-photometry for vertical beamline; SIMS detection range and processing speed for forensic analysis of fingerprints. Since IBC is an EPSRC national centre, this equipment also benefits the UK community at large.

Advanced Technology Institute / Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing / Institute of Sound Recording (Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences) - Enhanced capacity in quantum device simulation, fabrication, characterisation. Cross-faculty activity linking psycho-acoustic research with spatial audio signal processing research.

Mechanical Engineering Sciences Department
Automotive Engineering Group - Hardware-in-the-loop test rig for brake systems allowing researchers to extend activities into vehicle dynamics control, leading to new industrial collaborations.
EPSRC Industrial Doctorate Centre (now Centre for Doctoral Training) in Micro- and NanoMaterials and Technologies - Radiation detector system to test a variety of semiconductor detector materials and configurations, used by cohort of Research Engineers engaged in industry-sponsored EngD projects.

Chemical and Process Engineering Department
Water Processing Technology Group - Software to enable experimental and computational investigations of buoyant, reactive flows.

UPDATE FEBRUARY 2016
The University has continued to use the equipment purchased through this grant to support our early career researchers in the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences and, through collaboration, in the Institute of Sound Recording in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
Many of the PhD and EngD students who were supported have now graduated. However, the equipment is continuing to support a new wave of researchers and we have also been able to retain a number of excellent PhD graduates as research fellows.
The research resulting from this equipment has continued to lead to high-quality journal articles, conference proceedings, invited talks, PhD theses as well as a number of patent applications. Some of the key findings and developments since the last report are illustrated below.
Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP)/Institute of Sound Recording (IoSR):
The equipment purchased has enhanced existing collaborative research between the two departments. CVSSP have now branched out further into spatial audio research, reverberation synthesis, room acoustics analysis and audio-visual processing. The equipment has also facilitated the system design and integration of a baseline spatial audio system for the EPSRC Programme Grant S3A: Future Spatial Audio for an Immersive Listener Experience at Home (EP/L000539/1).
In the Institute of Sound Recording, the purchase of the loudspeaker system has enabled research into the effect of head movements on the perception of sound source elevation. In initial experiments, resolution and accuracy were both limited. However, the equipment permitted experiments with significantly improved accuracy. It also reduced set-up times, allowing an overall more in-depth study. As a result, the PhD researcher was able to determine that head movements can improve elevation localisation response accuracy by up to 85. Degrees. The findings from this research have contributed to our understanding of spatial auditory perception and will inform the development of auditory modelling and machine listening systems with spatial capabilities in 3D.
Department of Computer Science
The data acquisition equipment that was purchased has enabled the team to acquire 3D motion data in quaternions. This quaternion-valued data has enabled the researchers to propose a novel tracking signal processing algorithm for gait and rehabilitation analysis, which has paved the way for collaboration with other Computer Science colleagues. The team have also been able to exploit electroencephalogram information for the prediction of 3D movements.
Advanced Technology Institute (ATI)
In the ATI, the Ambient Single Point Kelvin Probe System that was purchased has been used extensively by all colleagues in the Nanoelectronics Centre, in particular for characterising the work function of metal and semiconductor thin films deposited at the ATI to be part of OLED (organic LEDS), photovoltaic, chemical sensor and transistor structures.
The equipment has proven invaluable for the Research Fellow for whom it was purchased. It has enabled him to establish his research area within the group. It has also helped him collaborate with others on the characterisation of materials and given him better insights of related research areas. The researcher in question has since been recognised as one of the rising stars in Engineering (RISE Award 2014).
Department of Mechanical Engineering Sciences (MES) and MinMat IDC:
Various items of equipment were purchased to form part of a characterisation suite in MES. This has been used by not only research engineers in the MinMat IDC, which has since been renewed by EPSRC. It was also used by undergraduate, MSc and vacation bursary students. The equipment has become a key component for both research and taught programmes in MES. This has resulted in one publication so far, with more in the pipeline.
Some of the equipment was also used by a research engineer to build a multi-channel radiation detector for R&D purposes. The system was designed to be flexible and allow various detector phenomena to be investigated, e.g. charge sharing, edge effects and depth of interaction corrections. The process of designing and building this system provided the engineer with invaluable experience in electronic engineering, PCB layout and digital signal processing as well as general design principles. The engineer now works in industry, and the above experience was one of the deciding factors for his appointment.
Department of Mathematics
The IT equipment that was purchased has largely enabled the Department of Mathematics to better engage with externals. This has facilitated and led to a much more diverse research seminar programme in mathematics. Furthermore, this has led to more external collaborations, both in mathematics and in health research, e.g. with Prof Kate Hardy at Imperial.
Department of Physics
The availability of the equipment has directly affected the recruitment of two self-funded PhD students: Firstly, the spectrometer has helped to develop a work plan for an overseas, self -funded PhD student on the characterisation of silica fibres for radiation detection. Secondly, the high temperature capability has the original beneficiary to attract a student interested in investigating high Temperature applications of SiC devices for the Oil and Gas industry. This includes long term stability studies and the equipment has been in almost continuous use for the past year. Availability of high temperature characterisation of detector materials is a rare facility and has most likely contributed to being invited to participate in an IAEA coordinated research programme (CRP) titled "Utilization of ion accelerators for studying and modelling of radiation induced defects in semiconductors and insulators".


Equipment Sharing
The University has continued to increase its efforts to effectively share equipment internally. This was done both through successfully implementing an equipment sharing and booking system (Academican) and through establishing the University's Facilities Directorate. The Directorate meets regularly to review existing equipment and make strategic decisions on future equipment needs and purchases.
ECR Support and HR Excellence
The University is strongly committed to supporting its early career researchers, including staff and postgraduate researchers. We are continuing with existing ECR training provision through our Researcher Development Programme. However, we are also looking at new ways of training, engaging and promoting our rising stars through our HR Excellence programme. For instance, Surrey is known for its excellent student employability rates, and we are looking at ways of expanding this to the ECR community to further enable career progression at Surrey and elsewhere. We are also looking to develop a Surrey ECR community of current and past researchers.
Further details of our HR Excellence Action Plan are available here:
https://www.surrey.ac.uk/sites/default/files/hr-excellence-in-research-january-2016-december-2020-four-year-action-plan.pdf

UPDATE MARCH 2017:

Civil & Environmental Engineering:
The high-speed digital video camera (HotSot 1024cc)purchased is used on a regular basis by PhD and MSc students carrying out lab testing on systems with a sudden failure or response. In such cases the camera provides relevant information about critical phenomena that develops and also provides information about accelerations and velocities of the system at failure. The equipment is used primarily by students in civil and environmental engineering, although there are research students using it from other departments within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences such as the Department of Mechanical Engineering Sciences and the Department of Chemical Engineering. The equipment is also used by undergraduate Students carrying out research for their Final Year Project.

Further support for Surrey's Early Career Researchers (ECR):
In December 2016, the University of Surrey launched its new Doctoral College, aimed at delivering an excellent experience for both postgraduate students and early career researchers and academics. This is an important milestone for early career support at Surrey and underlines our commitment to create a meaningful and nurturing collaborative research culture and excellent support. Specifically, the University will continue to provide excellent research training as mentioned above but we will also offer dedicated ECR careers and fellowship support to enable our rising stars to progress at Surrey and beyond.
Exploitation Route The main objectives of the bid were focussed on the development of early-career researchers (ECRs), ranging from postgraduate researchers who are just starting down the path to becoming independent researchers, to holders of named Fellowships, new lecturers or first grant holders. Beneficiaries of this grant are encouraged to use the University of Surrey's tailor-made 'Action Planner Tool for Researchers' (https://researchers.surrey.ac.uk), an online career development tool which helps ECRs and PG students to assess their skills in a number of areas and offers advice and suggests courses to build on current proficiencies. This is complemented by a wide range of training and development opportunities provided by Surrey's Researcher Development Programme, forming part of the University's succession planning strategy. To date, at least one of the post-doctoral researchers who benefitted from the grant has now secured a lectureship at a UK university. The equipment purchased is now being used by a new cohort of PGR students who have succeeded many of the original beneficiaries, building on current successes in the various research groups and centres. Going forward, we will ensure effective continued sharing of the equipment both internally at Surrey and externally with academic and industrial collaborators, using the Academican tool (http://academican.com/).

UPDATE FEBRUARY 2016:
As above, we have invested our efforts in promoting equipment sharing within the University, both by making existing provisions more accessible and by reviewing our needs more strategically through the new Facilities Directorate.
The equipment is now being used by existing staff as well as new colleagues, research students and engineers, UG and MSc/MPhys students and externals.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Construction,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology,Security and Diplomacy,Transport

URL https://researchers.surrey.ac.uk/
 
Description The activities supported by this grant have demonstrated impact in the following areas: 1. Generating high quality academic research outputs 2. Producing skilled researchers proficient in state-of the-art techniques transferable to academia and industry 3. Seeding future bids for research funding 4. Delivering innovation for industry A number of journal papers and conference presentations/papers arising from research supported by the grant have been published and are currently in preparation. It is anticipated that the volume of related outputs will grow in coming years, as the supported research matures. In addition to the more tangible benefits of facilitating experimental research work in support of PhD projects, the equipment grant has provided an invaluable resource through which the next generation of ECRs and PG students can gain experience and skills which are transferable into future employment in industry and academia. Many of the ECRS who were beneficiaries of the equipment grant have been involved in preparing bids to industry, the EU and a variety of UK research funders, including EPSRC, for further funding for research projects and fellowships. It is envisaged that this activity will continue amongst the cohort of beneficiaries as well as their successor. Many of the projects supported through this grant involve collaboration with industry and other research organisations; the enhanced equipment base will ensure the continued viability and relevance of such important interactions, which are of significant economic and societal benefit. Some specific examples of relevant collaborations supported through the grant include: • Research Engineers working in the Micro- and NanoMaterials and Technologies (MiNMaT) industrial doctorate centre on a research problem defined by their sponsoring company, e.g. design of future commercial X-ray detectors for medical, scientific, security and industrial applications. • Work on the scale-up of fabrication and novel/reduced cost electrolyte materials for supercapacitors opens up the possibility of commercial exploitation of flow battery technology in large scale electrical energy storage devices. • Micro-computed tomography facilities are used by external collaborators for imaging of various materials and it will now be possible to attract new collaborations, e.g. with colleagues from the University of Surrey's new Veterinary School and a veterinary practice to assess bone disease. • Equipment in the Automotive Engineering Group has provided a strategic extension of the equipment base required to attract further research funds in low-carbon vehicle technologies, in particular from industry and through European research projects. • In the Ion Beam Centre national facility, additional equipment has aided identification of materials with superior secondary electron emission properties, which is important for the design of high resolution detectors for X-ray, electrons and ions. This work has allowed visualisation of the effect of charged particle radiation on living cells and improvement in detection and dosimetry for heavier ions for single cell-single ion radiobiology studies. This is a project of national significance and underpins work with the two new UK centres for proton therapy funded by NHS (£250m). Overall, the items of equipment have significantly enhanced the performance of Surrey's Vertical Nanobeam. • Activity funded by the grant has also led to enhanced collaboration with NPL, underpinning the participation of Surrey (plus others) in the strategic alliance with NPL and the successful bid to BIS (by Surrey, Strathclyde) for the management of NPL. UPDATE FEBRUARY 2016: The beneficiaries from this grant have continued to produce a significant number of high-quality research outputs, including publications (published/in the pipeline), conference papers and proceedings, theses, funding applications and patent applications. The research that has resulted from this grant was also used to engage with the wider community, e.g. through school demonstrations, Open Days and science camps. Indicative examples of these outputs are further illustrated below. Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP): The soundsphere equipment has contributed to multiple research publications, proof-of-concept implementations perceptual testing, public demonstrations of sound zone and spatial audio research. Amongst other things, it was used to run a workshop for 6th form students as part of the Headstart programme and for Open Days. This equipment and associated research have been demonstrated to over 250 prospective students and are a clear flagship of the centre's research. Advanced Technology Institute: In the ATI alone, the research has led to three separate patent applications in the area of photonic networks and photonic devices. MES/MinMat IDC: As above, a significant proportion of the equipment is being used by Engineering Doctorates, who are based in industry. The equipment has also been available to several Erasmus scholars, a visiting Newton-Mostafa researcher and a CREST award A-Level student. UPDATE MARCH 2017: Civil & Environmental Engineering: A high-speed digital video camera (HotSot 1024cc) purchased has been instrumental in obtaining relevant data in UG and PG research, including in a number of PhD projects in the department. The data obtained from the high-speed camera helps significantly to disseminate the research findings amongst the research community as the high resolution images provide a great insight of the phenomena under investigation. Application areas thus far include structural engineering, wind engineering, chemical engineering, material engineering and soil mechanics. Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP): The sound equipment purchased has been used further to engage with industrial stakeholders at a number of important conferences and engagement events in the field of audio engineering (see publications), both in the UK and abroad. This has also enabled the Centre to attract a visiting researcher from the Chinese Institute of Acoustics in Beijing, leading to joint work and conference publications with further publications in preparation. Finally, the early career researcher involved contributed to a recent EPSRC platform grant (PI: Adrian Hilton).
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Construction,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology,Security and Diplomacy,Transport
Impact Types Societal,Economic

 
Description Visiting student from Chinese Institute of Acoustics 
Organisation Institute of Acoustics (IOA)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing attracted a visiting PhD student from the Institute of Acoustics in Beijing. The student's collaborative visit was supervised by Phil Coleman, and this has led to a conference publication so far, with further publications submitted for review and/or in preparation.
Collaborator Contribution The Institute of Acoustics sent a visiting PhD student to collaborate with staff in the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing. As above, this has led to one publication, with further joint work in planning.
Impact Q. Zhu, P. Coleman, M. Wu and J. Yang, " Robust personal audio reproduction based on acoustic transfer function modelling," in Proc. Audio Engineering Society 2016 International Conference on Sound Field Control, Guildford, UK, 18-20 July 2016.
Start Year 2015
 
Title Hardware-in-the-loop test rig for modern brake systems with ABS/ESP control 
Description A state-of-the-art hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) is used to analyse and develop modern brake systems with vehicle dynamics control functions such as ABS and ESP. The HIL rig is suitable for hydraulic and electro-hydraulic brake systems. Technical specifications: IPG Xpack 4 real-time platform with 16 analog differential inputs CAN and Flex-Ray capability Active wheel speed generator Electromechanical linear positioning actuator with force sensor Linear displacement sensor and brake pressure sensors Bespoke vacuum system to drive brake booster 
Type Of Technology Systems, Materials & Instrumental Engineering 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact TBC 
URL http://www.surrey.ac.uk/mes/research/automotive/itsvdc/
 
Description Conference demonstration: Object-based reverberation for interactive spatial audio (York) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The equipment purchased jointly for the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing and the Institute of Sound Recording was used to create demonstrators given at the Interactive Audio Systems Symposium in York.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.york.ac.uk/sadie-project/IASS2016.html
 
Description Conference demonstration: Reverberation using an object-based renderer (Belgium) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The equipment purchased jointly for the Centre of Vision, Speech and Signal Processing and the Institute of Sound Recording was used to create demonstrators given at the AES 60th international conference on reverberation in Leuven, Belgium.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.aes.org/conferences/60/program.cfm
 
Description Technical demonstration at international conference (Surrey) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The equipment purchased jointly for the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing and the Institute of Sound Recording was demonstrated at this conference. The purpose was to demonstrate the latest work on this and to facilitate demonstrations for international visitors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.aes.org/conferences/2016/sfc/demos.cfm