EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Integrated Functional Nano (i4Nano)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Physics


Topic of Centre:
This i4Nano CDT will accelerate the discovery cycle of functional nanotechnologies and materials, effectively bridging from ground-breaking fundamental science toward industrial device integration, and to drive technological innovation via an interdisciplinary approach. A key overarching theme is understanding and control of the nano-interfaces connecting complex architectures, which is essential for going beyond simple model systems and key to major advances in emerging scientific grand challenges across vital areas of Energy, Health, Manufacturing (particularly considering sustainability), ICT/Internet of things, and Quantum. We focus on the science of nano-interfaces across multiple time scales and material systems (organic-inorganic, bio-nonbio interfaces, gas-liquid-solid, crystalline-amorphous), to control nano-interfaces in a scalable manner across different size scales, and to integrate them into functional systems using engineering approaches, combining interfaces, integration, innovation, and interdisciplinarity (hence 'i4Nano'). The vast range of knowledge, tools and techniques necessary for this underpins the requirement for high-quality broad-based PhD training that effectively links scientific depth and application breadth.

National Need:
Most breakthrough nanoscience as well as successful translation to innovative technology relies on scientists bridging boundaries between disciplines, but this is hindered by the constrained subject focus of undergraduate courses across the UK. Our recent industry-academia nano-roadmapping event attended by numerous industrial partners strongly emphasised the need for broadly-trained interdisciplinary nanoscience acolytes who are highly valuable across their businesses, acting as transformers and integrators of new knowledge, crucial for the UK. They consistently emphasise there is a clear national need to produce this cadre of interdisciplinary nanoscientists to maintain the UK's international academic leadership, to feed entrepreneurial activity, and to capitalise industrially in the UK by driving innovations in health, energy, ICT and Quantum Technologies.

Training Approach:
The vision of this i4Nano CDT is to deliver bespoke training in key areas of nano to translate exploratory nanoscience into impactful technologies, and stimulate new interactions that support this vision. We have already demonstrated an ability to attract world-class postgraduates and build high-calibre cohorts of independent young Nano scientists through a distinctive PhD nursery in our current CDT, with cohorts co-housed and jointly mentored in the initial year of intense interdisciplinary training through formal courses, practicals and project work. This programme encourages young researchers to move outside their core disciplines, and is crucial for them to go beyond fragmented graduate training normally experienced. Interactions between cohorts from different years and different CDTs, as well as interactions with >200 other PhD researchers across Cambridge, widens their horizons, making them suited to breaking disciplinary barriers and building an integrated approach to research.

The 1st year of this CDT course provides high-quality advanced-level training prior to final selection of preferred PhD research projects. Student progression will depend on passing examinable components assessed both by exams and coursework, providing a formal MRes qualification. Components of the first year training include lectures and practicals on key scientific topics, mini/midi projects, science communication and innovation/scale-up training, and also training for understanding societal and ethical dimensions of Nanoscience. Activities in the later years include conferences, pilot projects, further innovation and scale up training, leadership and team-building weekends, and ED&I and Responsible Innovation workshops

Planned Impact

Our main impacts will be:
- a new generation of interdisciplinary nano researchers with expertise across science and innovation, fluent in the combination of approaches and technologies
- strategic developments in the study and control of nano-interfaces connecting complex architectures, for advances in emerging scientific grand challenges across vital areas of energy, health and ICT
- integration of new functional nanotechnologies together by harnessing nano-interfaces within larger application systems, and their translation into innovative products and services through our industry partners and student-led spin-outs
- a paradigm change of collaborative outlook in this science and technology
- a strong interaction with stakeholders including outreach and public engagement with cutting edge nano research
- improved use of interdisciplinary working tools including management, discipline bridging and IT

Economic impact of the new CDT is focused through our industrial engagement programme, as well as our innovation training. Our partner companies include - NPL, Hitachi, Oxford Nanopore, TWI, ARM, Eight19, Mursla, Britvic, Nokia Bell Labs, IBM, Merck, Oxford Instruments, Aixtron, Cambridge Display Technologies, Fluidic Analytics, Emberion, Schlumberger, Applied Materials and others. Such partnerships are crucial for the UK to revive high value manufacturing as the key pillar to lead for future technologies. We evidence this via the large number of CDT projects resulting in patents, with their exploitation supported by Cambridge Enterprise and our Industry Partners, and direct economic impact has also resulted from the large proportion of our students/alumni joining industry (a key outcome), or founding startups including: Echion Technologies (battery materials), Inkling Cambridge (Graphene inks and composites), HexagonFab (2D materials), Simprints (low-cost biometrics), Cortirio (rapid diagnosis of brain injury).

Training impact emerges through not just the vast array of Nano techniques and ideas that our cohorts and associated students are exposed to, but also the interdisciplinary experience that accrues to all the academics. In particular the younger researchers coming into the University are plugged into a thriving programme that connects their work to many other sciences, applications, and societal challenges. Interactions with external partners, including companies, are also strong and our intern programme will greatly strengthen training outcomes.

Academic impact is fostered by ensuring strong coherent plans for research in the early years, and also the strong focus of the whole CDT on study and control of nano-interfaces connecting complex architectures. Our track record for CDT student-led publications is already strong, including 4 Nature/Science, 6 Nature Chem/Nano/Mat, 13 Nat. Comm., with student publications receiving >6000 citations in total, including 16 papers with >100 citations each and high altmetric scores. Students have also given talks and posters at international conferences and won numerous awards/fellowships for research excellence.

Societal impacts arise from both the progression of our cohorts into their careers as well as their interaction with the media, public, and sponsors. We directly encourage a wide variety of engagement, including interaction with >5000 members of the public each year (mostly pre-university) through Nano exhibits during public events such as the Cambridge Science Festival and Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, and also art-science collaborations to reach new audiences. We also run public policy and global challenges workshops, and will further develop this aspect with external partners. Our efforts to bring societal challenges to students' awareness frames their view of what a successful career looks like. Longer term societal impact comes directly from our engagement with partner companies creating jobs and know-how in the UK.



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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S022953/1 30/09/2019 30/03/2028
2483264 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2023 Hwee Jien Tan
2483436 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2023 Mark Carrington
2275879 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2023 Moritz Muller
2276487 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2023 Sebastian Gorgon
2483266 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2023 Jiratheep Pruchyathamkorn
2485664 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2023 Daniel Scott
2504959 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2019 31/12/2023 Sarah Sandler
2276482 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2019 18/02/2024 Simone Eizagirre Barker
2276498 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2019 31/12/2023 Tarig Mustafa
2504467 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2023 Felix-Ekkehard Ritter Von Horstig
2276911 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2023 Sultaan Yousaf
2504958 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2019 31/12/2023 Ji Zhang
2504464 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2023 Felix-Ekkehard Ritter Von Horstig
2482375 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2024 Gemma Swan
2519612 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2024 Anna Scheeder
2482382 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2024 Reece McCoy
2626152 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2024 Dawn Kelly
2482369 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2024 Ashleigh Ruane
2482376 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2024 Alasdair Tew
2626153 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2021 Oyedamola Asiyanbola
2482377 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2024 Grace Mapstone
2482378 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2021 Molly Davis
2497024 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2024 Jinfeng Yang
2482379 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2024 Marion Short
2626206 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2020 29/09/2024 Arvind Pujari
2626154 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Gerardo Patino Guillen
2606852 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Rachel Matthews
2606804 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Benedetta Gaggio
2606926 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Oliver Powell
2606820 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Timothy Lambden
2606782 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Hannah Horton
2606952 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Edward Saunders
2606961 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Sarah Yorke
2606957 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 James Steele
2626155 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Lorenzo Peri
2606929 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Ayan Rakshit
2606965 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Thomas Selby
2625498 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2021 29/09/2025 Venkata Chaluvadi
2749417 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Tara Murphy
2748848 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Stephanie Fraser
2748816 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Pui Chu
2748670 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Laurence Brazel
2748840 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Tariq Hussein
2749190 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Dhruv Menon
2749146 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Erin Holdsworth
2749429 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Josiah Riley
2749169 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Jad Jaafar
2913945 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Tara Murphy
2744388 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Rowena Davies
2749474 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Andrea Rogolino
2748826 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Dylan Cuskelly
2748737 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Celia Chen
2749422 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Andrei-Alexandru Paraschiv
2748883 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Pui Ho
2749479 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2022 29/09/2026 Felicity Woolhouse
2888976 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2023 29/09/2027 Thomas Williamson
2888939 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2023 29/09/2027 Sergiu Petrusca
2888915 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2023 29/09/2027 Aldric Goh
2888961 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2023 29/09/2027 Angus Russell
2888904 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2023 29/09/2027 Rhiannon Fletcher-Stones
2888863 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2023 29/09/2027 Sofia Benedetti
2888935 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2023 29/09/2027 Xander Peetroons
2888927 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2023 29/09/2027 Katharine Ninham
2888968 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2023 29/09/2027 Charles Seymour
2888921 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2023 29/09/2027 Niamh Mulholland
2888885 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2023 29/09/2027 Toluwalase Agoro
2888974 Studentship EP/S022953/1 30/09/2023 29/09/2027 Isabella Teck