Cash boost for robots, drones and advanced materials

Written by: Laura Hopperton | Published:

Ten UK universities are to share a £13million fund to support research in advanced materials, robotic and autonomous systems, and synthetic biology.

The money will be provided through fellowship grants ranging between £804,000 and £1.2million, which will fund work over a five year period.

Announcing the investment, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: "These fellowships will keep the UK ahead in fields identified as part of the 8 Great Technologies with the potential to propel UK growth.

"We champion and support our leading academics in these areas to realise our ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to do and apply science."

The University of Glasgow has been awarded a £1.07m grant to support the creation of ultra-flexible tactile skin for robotics and prosthetics. A team led by Dr Ravinder Dahiya will be looking at ways to incorporate electronics and sensors on bendable silicon-based surfaces just 50µm thick.

The University of Warwick has been awarded funding worth just over £1m to explore how semiconducting materials can be used in electronic devices such as mobile phones without the need to cool them to very low temperatures.

Two teams from Imperial have also been given grants to study the solidification processing of alloys for sustainable manufacturing, and the next generation of lightweight composites.

Elsewhere in the materials space, the University of Exeter has been given £1.1million to create smart coatings based on atomically thin materials, while the University of Bath has been tasked with creating advanced materials for aerospace engineering.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC's chief executive, said: "To provide opportunities for growth, both scientific and economic, it is vital that the UK has a steady supply of academic talent in the physical sciences and engineering.

"To do this we must support academics throughout their careers. These fellowships will mean we are retaining the leaders we need to maintain our position in robotics and autonomous systems, and advanced materials."

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