EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Diamond Science and Technology

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Chemistry


Diamond is the epitome of an extreme material, with un-rivalled multi-functional properties ranging from the thermal and mechanical, through the electrical to the optical. World leading UK research on the synthesis, processing and defect engineering of diamond has reached a pivotal and critical threshold: the promise of diamond enabled innovative technologies is now ripe and for the taking, leading to tremendous technological possibilities. For example, specific placement of defects in diamond paves the way for next-generation quantum computers. Defect engineered nanoparticles results in biocompatible light-emitting particles that can be tracked in the body using powerful microscopes. Interfacing and integrating diamond into electronic devices can solve the biggest problem in electronics today, effective cooling for faster and more reliable device. In photonics too, diamond holds the key to both lasers that are simultaneously more powerful and compact and to single photon sources for secure data transmission. As materials become more advanced, processing must keep pace so we can machine faster with tools that last longer. Only engineered diamond can provide the solution. Training a student to a standard to tackle anyone of these projects, results in a highly multi-disciplinary skilled graduate equipped not just for DST but a wide variety of high performance material applications.

Innovation on a timescale suitable to realise commercial opportunities, requires a new breed of graduate, one that can work across disciplines with a skill-set that enables the multi-disciplinary research challenges to be tackled head on. Failure to do so can be expected to lead to slow decline as the innovation is increasingly outsourced and the UK's technological lead eroded. For this reason the academic and industrial community seek to establish a flagship graduate training programme that provides a powerbase for DST training and research activities in the UK, bringing together academics from eight partner universities, with industrial input embedded throughout. Graduates will emerge, trained with expertise across disciplines covering synthesis, material science, modelling, characterisation, engineering, device integration and material processing, photonics, quantum, entrepreneurship etc in addition to transferable skills.

Partnership with industry is essential to the vitality of our vision. We have established an Industry Partnership Network (IPN) to help foster and nurture collaborations of mutual interest, and have already secured strategic alliances with sixteen companies and the UK national synchrotron facility, discussions with more are on-going. Our partners have provided funds to support up to twenty three studentships to tackle innovative challenges of interest centred this CDT, demonstrating DST is not a niche area. Their commitment to the CDT, and desire to engage, is motivated by (at least) two factors: (i) their ability to access graduates with the wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary skill sets required to enable the technological opportunities offered by DST, and (ii) their realisation of the tremendous potential impact of high performance materials on societal and technological challenges. This is further confirmed by their readiness to provide presentations on career opportunities showcase facilities and provide research lectures.

Essential to the success of the centre is provision of a supportive, interactive, cross-community and cross-disciplinary environment to enable the most effective lines of communications, most efficient training experience and rewarding research projects. The IPN will operate to ensure successful interactions between industry and the CDT and to help develop strategic industry-industry interactions e.g. from the diamond growers to the end users. Cohort integrity during the PhD projects will be maintained via regular online discussion meetings, team building activities and student led conferences.

Planned Impact

Students: A CDT is first and foremost a training activity. The students will benefit from an interdisciplinary programme taught by leaders in their respective fields from our eight partner universities and industrial collaborators, focusing on the fundamentals of material science, from the classical to the quantum, but with an emphasis on diamond and related materials and application driven themes. Students will be recruited from a wide range of disciplines, maximising both quality and diversity to provide a richer experience. Our structure ensures that our students will experience at least three different research environments during their studentship; the PhD home university and two different partner institutes (of which one can be industry or that of our international academic partners). This greatly enhances the student experience, promotes mobility and encourages research across disciplines. When they graduate Diamond Science and Technology (DST) students, with a breadth of training no one institution could deliver alone will be ideally placed for employment in academia and industry. Our students will also be able to communicate across disciplines and make the required DST transformative breakthroughs in a wide range of societally important areas, e.g. electronics, optics, quantum computing, photonics, composite materials, energy efficiency and sensing.

Industry and Economy: Our industrial partners are focused on products, jobs and wealth creation. To achieve this they need appropriately skilled people and university R&D to sustain and grow their business in a world where competition is intense. The training programme has been devised to produce graduates who understand the interdisciplinary challenges faced and can communicate across fields, for employment in industries innovating in DST or other high performance material enabled products, businesses that exploit these materials or new businesses created. The industrial letters of support clearly demonstrate the demand for our students and the enthusiasm for the research. Market sectors such as electronics, photonics, sensors, defence and security, materials, abrasives, communications and healthcare will benefit. Through collaboration, industry will gain access to world-class academics and facilities. The training programme is also accessible to industrialists who will profit from accessing MSc modules. With the knowledge gained, companies will be able rapidly exploit DST technologies to position themselves at the cutting-edge. This CDT CDT will enable joined-up and efficient collaboration between universities, companies and users, greatly strengthening impact.

Society: Diamond is so much more than a gemstone. This CDT will actively drive DST in areas of huge societal impact such as, energy (e.g. efficient power devices, nuclear safety), the environment (e.g. decontamination, water quality monitoring), food safety (e.g. sensing contaminants) and health (e.g. ultra-high resolution functional imaging). Inside Science (11/7/13; www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b036kxv8) very recently reported on the growing importance of DST to many aspects of modern society and highlighted the £20M Element Six Ltd investment in a new diamond research centre in the UK. We will ensure that DST is used to motivate school children via innovative approaches such as "How to grow a diamond" BBC Bang Goes the Theory, 2011, (>81,000 hits on www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8qgE4LkZa4). To bring diamond to the forefront of public attention we will showcase the work through exhibitions using thought provoking and fun demonstrations, host public understanding lectures, produce podcasts/videos about our work, and host an interactive web-based forum where people have an opportunity to contact "the scientist" in order to ask questions about DST. This is in addition to publishing the results of our research in leading scientific journals, at international conferences and through the DST CDT website.


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