Underpinning Multi-User Equipment At UCL

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Office of Vice Provost Research

Abstract

This is a UCL-wide bid for investment in state-of-the-art underpinning multi-user equipment which will help us to maintain a cutting-edge in internationally leading research. Each piece of equipment included in this proposal contributes to one or more strategic themes, in which UCL, as well as national and international funders, has invested significantly in recent years: materials fabrication and characterisation; healthcare technologies; and imaging, for both medical and heritage science applications. UCL has considerable strengths in these areas, and we have experienced significant growth in terms of staff and student numbers, and breadth and impact of research activity. This additional investment will therefore provide an ideal platform to ensure the sustained growth of the highest quality research, as well as supporting and training early career researchers.

Each piece of equipment underpins a range of research activities, reaching across department and discipline boundaries, which are of strategic importance for UCL and EPSRC. The UCL equipment items were chosen via a competitive internal selection process, led by Deans and Vice-Deans for Research, with evaluation based on scientific excellence, potential for impact, and alignment to UCL and EPSRC strategies. Each piece of equipment has a Lead Investigator(s) who will be responsible for regular reporting to the Vice-Provost for Research on progress against objectives.

The requested UCL equipment items are: (A) a photoelectron spectrometer; (B) surgical X-ray imaging and robotics for a mock interventional suite; (C) a 3D nanoprinting facility; and (D) a 3D hyperspectral imaging facility for science and engineering in heritage.

Planned Impact

This proposal is for investment in equipment to support research and training in areas where UCL has significant strength and planned growth: materials fabrication and characterisation; healthcare technologies; and imaging, for both medical and heritage science applications. Broadly speaking, therefore, we can divide the impact of this proposal into two types: a "direct" impact (on researchers and students, both at UCL and beyond, and on their research) and an "indirect" impact that will be determined by the research enabled by the equipment.

Impact of the first type will be visible on a shorter time-scale, and can be easily measured in terms of improved research capability and performance. In identifying the items requested in this proposal, priority has been given to items supporting areas of high strategic importance for both EPSRC and UCL, in which there is a high level of internationally leading research activity and where UCL hosts a critical mass of researchers at all stages of their career. One of the most visible and immediate impacts will be on the training and skills upgrade of early career researchers. Training will be provided for all equipment by the UCL units hosting each item, thereby ensuring that all users can benefit fully from their equipment usage. Early career researchers will find this support particularly valuable, and will benefit from the opportunity to develop new skills in the use of novel, state-of-the-art facilities and devices. UCL early career beneficiaries will include around 200 students in three EPSRC CDTs (Molecular Modelling & Materials Science; Science & Engineering in Arts, Heritage & Archaeology; Medical Imaging) with strong alignment to the requested equipment. Other visible benefits to researchers will be development of independent research careers, and enhanced capability for world-leading, transformative research programmes.

The requested equipment will benefit a wide range of UCL's industrial and other partners as well as encouraging new collaborations. Many of the research projects underpinned by the new equipment are collaborations with partners from the UK and abroad, whose R&D activity will thereby benefit from the new techniques and abilities available at UCL. This proposal will therefore enable our research activity to have an impact on UK R&D activity beyond the academic environment.

UCL's research and enterprise strategies both put great emphasis on the importance of ensuring that our research and innovations reach beyond academia and bring benefit to the UK economy and society at large. This type of impact will be longer-term, but given the timeliness and importance of the challenges that will be addressed through usage of the equipment, we are confident that there will be a significant benefit to UK society and economy including (but not limited to) the following:

Research into material characterisation (A) has the potential to impact a wide range of sectors including catalysis and the manufacture of a range of new materials for industry;

Developments in healthcare technology and medical procedures (B) have the potential to improve the health of UK society and benefit the economy (and are in line with the priorities outlined in the EPSRC Healthcare Technologies theme);

3D-nanoprinting (C) is an exciting area of research which will likely have impacts on a diverse range of fields, including, but not limited to, Healthcare, Energy, ICT, Advanced Manufacturing and Physics;

The hyperspectral imaging facility (D) has the potential to benefit cultural heritage institutions in the UK and worldwide, and is expected to lead to impact upon conservation techniques and cultural understanding.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description 1) As multi user equipment the XPS has been used for a wide variety of research questions such as analysis of historical paintings, photovoltaic materials, polymer films, medical devices, nanoparticles, electrodes, and many other applications. 2) The O-Arm and surgical table have allowed for high-fidelity pre-clinical simulated surgery to evaluate devices under development at the Centre. In a recent example we evaluated a prototype intra-operative ultrasound probe for use in transsphenoidal surgery; we used the O-arm to perform a CT scan on the pre-clinical model allowing for image-guidance, and then used the head clamp and surgical table when carrying out the simulated surgery.
Exploitation Route Too early to say, the award is still active
Sectors Chemicals,Electronics,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

 
Description EPSRC Early Career Fellowship
Amount £1,239,250 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/P012841/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2017 
End 06/2022
 
Description Innovative Training Networks
Amount € 3,938,655 (EUR)
Organisation European Commission 
Department Horizon 2020
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 10/2017 
End 09/2021
 
Description i4i
Amount £1,444,811 (GBP)
Organisation National Institute for Health Research 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 12/2020
 
Description Collaboration with Cardiff University and University of Manchester 
Organisation Cardiff University
Department School of Chemistry
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This equipment was used to build a collaboration with Cardiff University and University of Manchester to successfully bid to run the EPSRC National XPS Service, now branded HarwellXPS, a £3.1m investment.
Collaborator Contribution This equipment was used to build a collaboration with Cardiff University and University of Manchester to successfully bid to run the EPSRC National XPS Service, now branded HarwellXPS, a £3.1m investment.
Impact This equipment was used to build a collaboration with Cardiff University and University of Manchester to successfully bid to run the EPSRC National XPS Service, now branded HarwellXPS, a £3.1m investment.
Start Year 2017
 
Description Collaboration with Cardiff University and University of Manchester 
Organisation University of Manchester
Department School of Physics and Astronomy Manchester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This equipment was used to build a collaboration with Cardiff University (Prof Phil Davies) and University of Manchester (Prof. Wendy Flavell) to successfully bid to run the EPSRC National XPS Service, now branded HarwellXPS, a £3.1m investment.
Collaborator Contribution This equipment was used to build a collaboration with Cardiff University (Prof Phil Davies) and University of Manchester (Prof. Wendy Flavell) to successfully bid to run the EPSRC National XPS Service, now branded HarwellXPS, a £3.1m investment.
Impact This equipment was used to build a collaboration with Cardiff University (Prof Phil Davies) and University of Manchester (Prof. Wendy Flavell) to successfully bid to run the EPSRC National XPS Service, now branded HarwellXPS, a £3.1m investment. The collaboration is multi-disciplinary, between UCL Chemistry and University of Manchester Physics & Astronomy
Start Year 2017
 
Description New Scientist Live (27/09/2017-01/10-2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Double arm lightweight robot (Kuka arms) Used in New Scientist Live (27/09/2017-01/10-2017) as non-interactive demo with endoscope attached at end of arm focussed on a model placenta.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation at the EPSRC "Frontier Engineering" Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering's yearly Workshop and Advisory Board meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Budding engagement activities, including presentation at the EPSRC "Frontier Engineering" Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering's yearly Workshop and Advisory Board meeting, which generated further industrial and academic interest
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Public Open Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Dual arm 6 DoF haptic device used for demonstration in the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Public Open Day (22/04/2017)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017