Supporting Early Career Researchers at the University of Bristol

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Research and Enterprise Development


The University of Bristol (UoB) has chosen to support a range of equipment across EPSRC's remit in the Engineering, Science and Life Sciences Faculties, supporting Early Career Researchers (ECRs) across five Schools.

A mid-infrared multi-element detector system would establish a world-leading capability at UoB for the study of ultrafast energy flow and charge transport in advanced materials and biomolecules. Combined with an existing femtosecond laser, the resulting instrument will be the first of its kind outside the USA, and only the second such spectrometer in the world, giving the UK a strong competitive edge at the frontier of time-resolved optical spectroscopy.

Indoor air quality is relatively understudied compared to outdoor air quality, despite humans spending up to 80% of their time indoors. A scanning mobility particle sizer would provide the Bristol Aerosol Research Centre with enhanced capability to explore the properties of aerosol particles below 1 micrometer diameter, catalysing new, multidisciplinary research partnerships. This resolution could lead to better management of asthma and resolving relationships between sleep and air quality.

Organic electrochemistry is becoming immensely relevant to synthesis in both industry and academia because the technology boasts numerous advantages in its ability to perform sustainable redox reactions, a key driver for a future of sustainable and automated chemical synthesis. The 12-channel M204 Autolab can perform experiments for both electrochemical analysis and preparative-scale electrolysis reactions, with the ability to run 12 experiments simultaneously and accommodate 3 concurrent users.

The ever-growing demand for ubiquitous computing for multi-gigabit-per-second data rates, faster, and more reliable wireless communications, together with the shortage of available low-band radio spectrum to address these needs, is pushing industry and the academic community to consider millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum as a part of 5G and beyond communications. This will offer a transformative approach towards addressing the 50 billion interconnected devices forecasted by the World Economic Forum for the year 2030. The purchase of a Sub 6GHz and Millimetre Wave Noise and Signal Analyser will provide a new dimension to measurement capabilities whilst future-proofing a World-Class Lab in the UK ecosystem.

Physical, 3D printed models of complex objects greatly improve understanding of problems such as the study of crystals, in particular crystal interfaces and crystal defects; the design of (bio-)molecules that self-assemble in a predetermined 3D structure; and exploit the interaction between mechanics and geometry and optimise prototypes for deployable space structures, weight/energy-efficient prosthetics and multifunctional components for robotics, compared to studying computer-visualisations on a screen.

Many aerodynamic applications lie within the turbulent flow regime (especially considering jet, boundary layer and wake flows) and, as such, all parameters describing the observed flow show a variation in time. To capture temporal variation in flow velocity due to the passing of small turbulent structures, a hotwire anemometry system capable of capturing fluctuations in the order of kilo-Hertz becomes a necessity.

Micro- and nanofabrication are the foundations of breakthrough technologies due to their ability to fabricate devices with functionality not available using bulk materials alone. Thin-films and augmenting cleanroom deposition capabilities will enable such applications as fabrication of microfluidic channels in lab-on-chip devices for fast antimicrobial resistance detection, plasmonic nanoantennas for single molecule and quantum light measurements, and the very finest atomic force microscopy probes that are capable of 'seeing' single atoms

Planned Impact

The CoIs are already very active in developing substantial collaboration networks who will benefit either directly with access to the instrumentation or to new data from the CoIs laboratories. These collaborators include other ECRs as well as established research groups within UoB, the UK and internationally. The increased throughput and accuracy provided by the proposed equipment will enable our CoIs to accommodate more and wider collaborations.

Our CoIs have identified a significant number of industrial collaborators with whom they already work and the wider UoB community who will use the equipment, also have extensive industrial networks with whom they work. The instrumentation will allow these collaborations to explore new directions e.g. aircraft noise reduction with Airbus, large-scale electrochemical synthesis in organic solvents with Syngenta and UCB.

Expected Impacts on society will arise directly from applications already identified for these equipment to improving air and sleep quality in the home (sub-micron particle sizer, Bzdek), noise-reduction from aircraft (hotwire anemometer, Fiscaletti and Theunissen) and high bandwidth ultra-fast 5G and beyond communications (Balram, Gamlath).

The University is always looking for innovative ways to reach out to the public and the 3D printing facility offers an opportunity for use in our Outreach programs for Mathematics (school visits, science festivals etc) as the fundamental nature of their research can be challenging to convey. The production of high quality 3D models will significantly assist in communication of the key ideas behind complex structures to the scientific community and to the public.


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