University of Oxford: experimental equipment upgrade

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics

Abstract

This is an enabling investment that will underpin a significant proportion of Oxford's engineering and physical sciences research activity.

Supported research will fall into one or more of the following broad areas, depending on which combination of equipment bundles is selected for funding:

- Advanced Materials and Materials Engineering. The design and development of novel functional materials and of new components/devices based on these materials (including structural materials, quantum materials and superconducting materials).

- Energy and Transport. The development of novel energy storage materials/systems; new photovoltaic materials; more efficient engine technologies for the automotive and aerospace sectors.

- Development of novel physical science methods and analytical techniques and their application to challenges in the biological and medical sciences.

Planned Impact

This investment will promote impact across 4 broad groups:

- graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, who will acquire enhanced technical skills through access to, and training on, state-of-the-art equipment
- consumers, through the development of next-generation display technologies and batteries, and other products
- society in general, through the development of innovative products to tackle the twin challenges of carbon reduction and sustainable energy
- UK industry, including key manufacturers (and their supply chains) in the automotive and aerospace sectors

Novel diagnostic techniques, pioneered in Oxford, will support the development of the next generation of UK-manufactured diesel engines - with greater fuel efficiency, and reduced emissions (both carbon dioxide and other gases that are not yet subject to regulation). This offers the potential for reduced transport costs (for motorists and air passengers) as well as public health benefits. Experimental validation of CFD (computational fluid dynamics) data will help to reduce design and development costs for gas turbine manufacturers (for both aerospace and civil applications, such as power generation).

New battery technologies - and battery management systems - are essential for the roll-out of electric and hybrid vehicles, and will also deliver benefits to the consumer electronics sector (e.g. smaller, smarter or longer-lasting batteries). Improving the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of solar cell materials and devices has the potential to greatly increase uptake of renewable energy. A significant strand of Oxford's research into the properties of materials under extreme conditions is aimed at developing new materials to enhance the safety of nuclear power stations (both fission and, ultimately, fusion).

Potential applications of novel synthetic biology and chemical biology techniques include new methods for cancer detection and for targeted drug delivery, as well as the search for alternative antibiotics (a major - and urgent - challenge in 21st-century healthcare).