RCUK Innovation Fellow

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leicester
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

The University of Leicester also has a unique heritage in space instrumentation; every year since 1967 has seen a Leicester-built instrument operating in space. Leicester is particularly well known for its work in X-ray astronomy and planetary science, designing and building detectors of high energy photons for space missions such as XMM-Newton, Beagle 2 and BepiColombo. The detection of high energy photons is also important for aspects of medicine, nuclear power and security, and for characterising materials in sectors like manufacturing, mining, and archaeology.

This project aims to build research, innovation and translation programmes based on core STFC funded research through investigating technology designed for detecting high energy photons in space and applying these to terrestrial applications.

One key application is medical imaging. A portable gamma camera has been developed at the University of Leicester that has made use of similar technology to that developed for the XMM-Newton EPIC X-ray camera. Medical gamma cameras, which are used for a wide range of medical diagnostic tests including determining whether cancer has spread to other areas of the body, can take up a whole room in a hospital. The portable camera developed at Leicester is small enough to be hand held and so it can be brought to the patient wherever they may be, even in the operating theatre. This could make a big difference to surgeons, who currently perform radioguided surgery with a non-imaging detector, which beeps when detecting radioactivity (similar to a metal detector). The gamma camera can show the position and shape of any radioactive sources, in addition to showing their location on an optical overlay, which should greatly help surgeons in localising sources within the body, reducing surgical trauma and improving patient outcomes.

As the detection of high energy photons has a wide array of applications, and the portable gamma camera from Leicester includes unique technology for combining high energy photons invisible to the naked eye along with visible light, there is potential to transfer this to a number of other sectors. Part of the project will entail adapting this platform technology for testing in target environments to determine whether it can be of interest to other industries. Adaptations of the gamma camera have the potential to open up research and commercialisation in a wide number of sectors.
The fellow will also be involved in the University of Leicester's research into novel detector materials. Semiconductors (silicon being the most commonly used) are vital components in all sorts of electronics, including detectors. Novel compound semiconductors are varied and many are 'tunable', able to exhibit different properties depending on their chemical makeup. Detectors made from new semiconductor materials may, for example, be far more sensitive to high energy photons than silicon, or may be able to operate at far higher temperatures. This opens up applications in a range of industries, including in nuclear security. The fellow will work with lead players in the UK nuclear security sector to determine gaps in current detector provision where new materials would be useful, and will then work to investigate materials to fill that gap.

The fellow will have the full support of the University, which will provide high quality training in a number of key areas related to knowledge transfer and innovation. Sectorial specific training will also be provided by industrial partners. Embedding this experience within the department will accelerate current and future commercialisation projects, and further capitalise on funding provided by the STFC.

Publications

10 25 50

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Bugby S (2019) Energy-loss correction in charge sharing events for improved performance of pixellated compound semiconductors in Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors and Associated Equipment

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Bugby SL (2021) Stereoscopic portable hybrid gamma imaging for source depth estimation. in Physics in medicine and biology

 
Description College of Science and Engineering Funded Ph.D. Studentship - Ballistic Optical Tomography of Biological Tissue
Amount £53,497 (GBP)
Organisation University of Leicester 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2021 
End 02/2025
 
Description Game Changers Proof of Concept
Amount £68,214 (GBP)
Funding ID GC-194 
Organisation National Nuclear Laboratory 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2020 
End 12/2021
 
Description Preclinical hybrid in-vivo real-time imaging system (PHiVRIS) Re-submission
Amount £88,507 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/S000135/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2019 
End 01/2020
 
Description STFC Impact Acceleration Account scheme Proof of Concept project - 'A Human-Safe Optical Disinfection Method for Infection Management'
Amount £9,967 (GBP)
Organisation University of Leicester 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2021 
End 03/2022
 
Description Tiger Team - Time and Space Imaging Team - Ivan Reading
Amount £5,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Leicester 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2020 
End 07/2020
 
Description Human-Safe Optical Disinfection Method for Infection Management 
Organisation University of Leicester
Department Department of Chemistry
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The team in Physics and Astronomy proposed the research hypothesis and supporting evidence and has coordinated the research activity and preparation of funding proposals.
Collaborator Contribution The Department of Chemistry team has contributed infrared laser equipment and expertise in spectroscopy The Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and the Department of Genetics and Genome Biology teams have contributed by the selection of microbes for testing, preparation of samples in a safe format for irradiation and the development of assays to measure the degree of inactivation achieved by different optical irradiation protocols.
Impact Award of STFC Impact Acceleration Account scheme Proof of Concept funding from October 2021 to March 2022 The collaboration is multi-disciplinary between Physics & Astronomy, Chemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology and Genetics and Genome Biology
Start Year 2020
 
Description Human-Safe Optical Disinfection Method for Infection Management 
Organisation University of Leicester
Department Department of Genetics
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The team in Physics and Astronomy proposed the research hypothesis and supporting evidence and has coordinated the research activity and preparation of funding proposals.
Collaborator Contribution The Department of Chemistry team has contributed infrared laser equipment and expertise in spectroscopy The Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and the Department of Genetics and Genome Biology teams have contributed by the selection of microbes for testing, preparation of samples in a safe format for irradiation and the development of assays to measure the degree of inactivation achieved by different optical irradiation protocols.
Impact Award of STFC Impact Acceleration Account scheme Proof of Concept funding from October 2021 to March 2022 The collaboration is multi-disciplinary between Physics & Astronomy, Chemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology and Genetics and Genome Biology
Start Year 2020
 
Description Human-Safe Optical Disinfection Method for Infection Management 
Organisation University of Leicester
Department Department of Molecular and Cell Biology
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The team in Physics and Astronomy proposed the research hypothesis and supporting evidence and has coordinated the research activity and preparation of funding proposals.
Collaborator Contribution The Department of Chemistry team has contributed infrared laser equipment and expertise in spectroscopy The Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and the Department of Genetics and Genome Biology teams have contributed by the selection of microbes for testing, preparation of samples in a safe format for irradiation and the development of assays to measure the degree of inactivation achieved by different optical irradiation protocols.
Impact Award of STFC Impact Acceleration Account scheme Proof of Concept funding from October 2021 to March 2022 The collaboration is multi-disciplinary between Physics & Astronomy, Chemistry, Molecular and Cell Biology and Genetics and Genome Biology
Start Year 2020
 
Title Prevention of Microbial Disease Transmission by Optical Irradiation 
Description Under the RC UK Innovation Fellowship we have investigated optical methods of inactivating bacteria and viruses to prevent the transmission of disease via fomite (surface) or air-borne routes. Current work is on-going and supported by an STFC IAA 2021-22 Proof of Concept project 'A Human-Safe Optical Disinfection Method for Infection Management' at the University of Leicester. 
Type Preventative Intervention - Physical/Biological risk modification
Current Stage Of Development Initial development
Year Development Stage Completed 2021
Development Status Actively seeking support
Impact No notable impacts to date but the work continues.