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

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Jones G (2017) Bayesian Estimation of Intrinsic Tissue Oxygenation and Perfusion From RGB Images. in IEEE transactions on medical imaging

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Nikitichev DI (2017) Medical-grade Sterilizable Target for Fluid-immersed Fetoscope Optical Distortion Calibration. in Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE

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Pachtrachai K (2018) CHESS-Calibrating the Hand-Eye Matrix With Screw Constraints and Synchronization in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters

 
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. The XPS equipment has supported a wide range of research from developing new battery materials and photovoltaics to characterising ionic liquids

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.

This is a general purpose equipment that generates multiple outputs. The Key findings of collaboration 1 was novel structures with superhydrophobic and optical properties that fit in architecture. The Key findings of collaborations 2 and 3 so, far are associated with better method to characterise the performance of optical coherence tomography systems and novel physiological parameter miniature sensors for minimally invasive operations.

The grant enabled the fabrication of the devices/structures.
Multi-functional, nature-inspired structures were created that have combined hydrophobic and light-focusing properties, which would be of interest for applications in the built environment.
Exploitation Route We are also designing prototypes for use in the built environment (multi-functional wall panels) for applications on earth and in space.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Construction,Electronics,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

 
Description Collaboration 1 There is interest from the reputed architectural firm Foster+Partners in the materials generated via the equipment. Collaborations 2 and 3 The patent of the miniature sensor is licensed through UCLB to Echopoint Medical contributing to the IP portfolio of the company. The design is projected to become commercial product and be tested in-human within the next 5 years.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Chemicals,Electronics,Energy,Healthcare
Impact Types Economic

 
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 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 04/2017 
End 03/2022
 
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 NIHR i4i - Image-Guided Micro-Precise Flexible Robotic Tools for Retinal Therapeutics Delivery
Amount £1,017,363 (GBP)
Funding ID II-LB-0716-20002 
Organisation National Institute for Health Research 
Department NIHR i4i Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2017 
End 08/2020
 
Description NIHR i4i Programme - A multi-modality, surgical planning and guidance system to improve the up-take of laparoscopic liver resection
Amount £1,300,000 (GBP)
Organisation National Institute for Health Research 
Department NIHR i4i Invention for Innovation (i4i) Programme
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2018 
End 01/2021
 
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 Nature inspired microstructures with hydrophobic and optical properties fabricated by two-photon-polymerisation and direct ink writing 
Organisation University College London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have developed and printed complex microstructures that draw inspiration from cicada wings, human and moth eyes to combine into a unique, multi-functional structures that have versatile optical properties and are hydrophobic. The structures form a prototype for multi-functional wall panels that would work as passive surfaces inside a building, or for possible use where water reclamation is essential, unaided by gravity in, e.g. space applications.
Collaborator Contribution This is a collaboration within the EPSRC "Frontier Engineering" Centre for Nature Inspired Engineering, involving researchers from the Department of Chemical Engineering (lead: Professor Marc-Olivier Coppens) and the Bartlett School of Architecture (lead: Professor Marcos Cruz). The multi-disciplinary expertise, augmented by that from Electronic and Electrical Engineering (Professor Ioannis Papakonstantinou) leads to the creation of unique nature-inspired functional materials.
Impact Work is highly multidisciplinary, from chemical engineering to architecture. It has led to interest from several companies, and most notably the architectural firm Foster+Partners. An MPhil transfer thesis has been submitted by Malica Schmidt (PhD student in chemical engineering, with first degree in Architecture from the Bauhaus University, Germany). A first publication is in preparation. There have been several displays, including videos featuring structures made with the Nanoscribe as part of exhibitions at NYU (New York, USA) and in the Centre Pompidou (Paris, France). Work has also been part of a BRE Lunch Briefing by Marc-Olivier Coppens (MOC). There have been several presentations by MOC, including IChemE London & SE Young Chemical Engineers Xmas Lecture 2018; invited presentations in Materials Science & Engineering at Beihang University, at ECUST Shanghai and Zhejiang University (China); plenary presentation at the 8th World Congress for Particle Technology (Florida, USA); Jubilee Lecture for the 50th Anniversary of the Biochemical and Chemical Engineering Department at TU Dortmund (Germany), and many more. Malica Schmidt won the 3-minute thesis presentation at UCL Chemical Engineering, and the Alumni Poster Prize at the Industrial Advisory Board meeting.
Start Year 2017
 
Description da Vinci Research Kit Consortium partnership 
Organisation Intuitive Surgical Inc
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution We have contributed in the development of computer vision software and algorithms for stereoscopic endoscope video.
Collaborator Contribution Donation of equipment and exchange of knowledge and access to data.
Impact The partnership and consortium have resulted in funding from NIH, multiple papers, knowledge exchange and student engagement as well as dissemination activities.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Institute for Research in Schools co-event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The XPS facility was used to support school research projects run by IRIS in collaboration with UCL. School students visit the facility to collect data on their samples of ionic liquids that they have produced in an after school club.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.researchinschools.org/projects/ionic_liquids.html
 
Description Micron resolution, high-fidelity three-dimensional vascular optical imaging phantoms - talks 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact International conference in the space of medical devices.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Nature inspired microstructures - talks 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact International conferences in chemical engineering and general engineering disciplines. Outreach activities attended by the wider public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018
 
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