Small items of research equipment at the University of Oxford

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics


This is an enabling grant that will support a wide range of early career researchers (ECRs) and fields of research across the engineering and physical science remit. The majority of the activities can be grouped together within one of three broad themes:
- The development of novel physical science methodologies and analytical techniques and their application to the biological sciences and medicine.
- Quantum phenomena and systems, including research into superconductors and other quantum materials, and the development of quantum circuits and quantum computing devices.
- Advanced materials engineering. Key areas of activity include metalorganic frameworks (including methodologies for synthesis of new MOFs and the design of novel polymer nanocomposites containing MOFs) and structural engineering materials.

Planned Impact

The breadth of research that will be supported through this grant has the potential for impact across a wide range of different sectors.

Development and application of novel physical methods has the potential to deliver major impacts within the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and healthcare sectors. In particular, they offer the prospect of increasingly personalised healthcare - for example, through the development of novel drugs (with far more selective targeting) or the fabrication of biomimetic scaffolds to aid tissue regeneration. Research enabled through this grant also has the potential for major benefits in the agricultural and food sectors - for example, by reducing the uptake in rice of arsenic and other toxins.

Quantum mechanics underpins much of modern physics and provides powerful tools for understanding physical systems. Scientific advances in quantum phenomena have the potential to impact on a wide variety of beneficiaries outside of academia through the development of new technologies. For example, the exploitation of quantum entanglement to enable quantum communication, quantum cryptography, and quantum computing have had profound effects on our understanding of such systems and have wide reaching impacts on the future of computing, security and cryptography. Similarly, research in quantum materials has the potential to revolutionise the electronics, medicine, energy and computing sectors by creating novel components and sensors. A particular focus of current Oxford research is on optical quantum memory which offers dramatically increased rates of data transfer.

Several strands of research will also contribute to carbon reduction, with the potential for widespread societal impact (behavioural change) and environmental benefits. Improving the cost-effectiveness of solar cell technology has the potential to greatly increase uptake. Next-generation battery management systems are essential for roll-out of electric and hybrid vehicles. Novel, lightweight materials for use in engine parts have the potential to improve fuel efficiency and so reduce carbon emissions.

New bio-mechanics and bio-engineering insights will inform the design of submersible vehicles, with potential implications for both defence and civilian use.


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Coates C (2017) Large elastic recovery of zinc dicyanoaurate in APL Materials

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Grabarczyk DB (2019) Dioxygen controls the nitrosylation reactions of a protein-bound [4Fe4S] cluster. in Dalton transactions (Cambridge, England : 2003)