«Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 Report of the Board of Management and Summarised Financial Statements For the year ended 31 December 2015 ...»
Dr Russell Garwood Project: Virtual Palaeozoic insects University of Manchester Russell’s research uses new methods of studying fossils to answer evolutionary questions. A focus of his fellowship has been the study of some of the first insects, and other members of the earliest preserved ecosystems on land. Using high-resolution CT scanning (µCT) and traditional techniques, complemented by a study of the development of living insects using µCT - he and collaborators he has reported juvenile insects in rocks more than 300 million years old. On the basis of these suggested how the earliest insects might have changed as they grew, providing new data for debates regarding the origin of wings and complete metamorphosis in the group. Arachnids lived in the same ecosystems as these insects, and Russell has also worked on these - reporting their morphology, modelling their walking gait, assessing the impact they have on our understanding of arachnid evolutionary relationships, and correlating structures seen in fossils with gene expression in the opportunity to build a range of collaborations, applying µCT to a variety of questions elsewhere in embryos of their living descendants. In addition to this work on early land animals, he has had the the history of life. Through these he has worked on: possible fossilised bacteria; some of the earliest animals to produce hard parts; ancient conifers; some of the earliest fish; pathologies in dinosaur bones; and lizards in amber.
Russell is now a lecturer in earth sciences at the University of Manchester. He plans to continue learning novel techniques, and applying these to new organisms and time periods.
Dr Brianna Heazlewood Project: The reactions of doubly charged calcium ions in coulomb crystals University of Oxford The reaction rates of positively charged ions with neutral polar molecules typically display an unusual trend: reactions get faster as the temperature goes down. As a result, ion-molecule reactions become increasingly important in low-temperature environments, such as the outer atmosphere and the interstellar medium. Brianna has adopted numerous techniques developed in the physics community, including ion trapping, laser cooling, electrostatic guiding and Stark deceleration, to study the reactions of positively charged ions with neutral molecules. Upon laser cooling, trapped Ca+ ions can undergo a phase transition and adopt a lattice structure termed a “Coulomb crystal”. Other ionic species can be incorporated into these Coulomb crystals, enabling one to prepare a range of cold, trapped ionic reaction targets. State-selected neutral reactants – such as water and ammonia – can be introduced to the ion trap chamber through a Stark decelerator or an electrostatic guide, offering unprecedented control over the ion-molecule reaction parameters. In order to monitor the reaction (Continued) kinetics and dynamics, Brianna has also developed a novel detection methodology, built upon the principles of Wiley-McLaren time-of-flight mass spectrometry.
During the course of her fellowship, Brianna was awarded research grants from the European Commission and the EPSRC. She received an Award for Excellence from the Department of Chemistry at Oxford and was appointed as the Millard and Lee Alexander Fellow at Christ Church College, Oxford. Brianna will continue her research into cold, controlled ion-molecule reactions at the University of Oxford as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow and Departmental Lecturer.
Dr Cheuk Chi Lo Project: Harnessing spins in semiconductor nanostructures University College London All computational tasks require some physical representation for information storage and processing.
In modern computers, this is realized with semiconductor-based microelectronics technology, which enable us to manipulate the flow of charged carriers (such as electrons), and hence information. This control is achieved by the fact that carriers possess charge degrees of freedom. Cheuk’s project explored another property of electrons, namely their spin degree of freedom. Spin-based devices have potential for wide ranging applications, such as leading to new “classical” applications (e.g. denser information storage devices, more sensitive sensors, lower power-consuming computers), and eventually to “quantum” technologies (e.g. quantum sensors and quantum computers). Cheuk’s work encompassed exploring methods to control, detect and understand the physics associated with spins in semiconducting materials. Spins of conduction electrons and donor-bound electrons were investigated in silicon MOSFETs, the workhorse of modern computers. Electric-field control of spin transitions in MOS systems, and a new spin-to-charge detection method by hybrid optical-electrical detection involving donor-bound excitons were also developed. The latter was found to give rise to the ability to measure intrinsic spin coherence times and is promising for quantum sensing applications. Nano-scale CMOS devices were also investigated in order to demonstrate donorquantum dot coupling, which can act as a building block for larger scale quantum systems.
Cheuk now works in the hardware engineering team at Apple.
Dr Mamatha Nagaraj Project: Novel liquid crystalline functional materials for new photonic applications University of Manchester Liquid crystals are a remarkable class of materials that have been critical to the success of many recent scientific developments. Investigating novel liquid crystalline systems for new technology areas is therefore both exciting and important. The broad aim of Mamatha’s fellowship was to develop novel functional composite materials by combining liquid crystals, polymers and nanomaterials and to explore their suitability for device applications. Several new self-assembled soft matter structures were developed during the term of the fellowship and new electro-optical phenomena were discovered - for example, an unusual optically isotropic mesophase that exhibits chiral symmetry breaking even though the constituent molecule showing such a structure is achiral. A new electrooptic effect has been discovered in this system where when an electric field is applied across the liquid crystal a series of field-driven transformations such as deracemization occur. The exact nature of the reorganization mechanisms responsible for the transformations and physical reasons for the distinct behaviour were identified. The possibility of tuning the refractive index of an isotropic system by electric field was observed for the first time in these liquid crystals. This offers multitudes of opportunities for utilizing these materials for liquid crystal based device technologies. The most obvious benefits are no power loss due to scattering, no requirement for an alignment layer, ease of fabrication and no polarization sensitive effects.
Mamatha has been awarded the 2015 Young Scientist Prize by the British Liquid Crystals Society. She is now a University Academic Fellow (a tenure track position leading to Associate Professorship) at the University of Leeds.
Dr Anna Lisa Varri Project: Towards a new dynamical paradigm for globular star clusters University of Edinburgh Globular star clusters are compact groups of about a million stars, which are held together by their mutual gravitational attraction. The traditional interpretative paradigm of the internal dynamics of these stellar systems has been deeply shaken by a series of recent discoveries about their chemical, structural, and kinematic properties. In addition, the Hubble Space Telescope and the satellite Gaia, are about to unleash a flood of comprehensive data on globular clusters in our Galaxy, which, at present, theory cannot match. Driven by these motivations, Anna Lisa has pursued a research program at the interface between Astronomy and Applied Mathematics, devoted to the investigation of the dynamical evolution of rotating stellar systems, from the early to the final stages of evolution.
She has been studying the dynamics of dissipationless collapse in the presence of nonvanishing initial angular momentum, the stability properties of equilibria with differential rotation, and the role of angular momentum in the evolution towards and after core collapse. Anna Lisa has also had the opportunity to work with her mentor, Professor Heggie, and several talented students on a number of projects which will open a new window on the current fundamental understanding of the problem of the escape of stars from a collisional stellar system.
During the course of the fellowship, Anna Lisa has received from The Gruber Foundation and the International Astronomical Union a Young Scientist award, which has allowed her to forge longterm collaborations with research groups in the United States, especially at Indiana University. Anna Lisa has now been awarded a Maria Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship to continue her research activities in stellar dynamics at the Institute for Astronomy of the University of Edinburgh.
Industrial Fellows Dr Robert Blissett Project: The recycling of coal fly ash Sponsor: RockTron Ltd University of Birmingham Robert’s project focused on the successful development of a method for coating coal cenospheres with titanium dioxide to make a new floating photo catalyst for water treatment applications.
These coatings have been formulated to work in natural sunlight as well as ultra violet light. This new product could be useful in the environmental clean- up of dyes from river water from textile operations. Robert also looked at the occurrence of critical and strategically important rare earth elements in coal fly ash occurrences in the UK and Europe. His results show the potential for exploitation of these resources for processing and recovery of rare earth elements.
Robert has now accepted a Knowledge Training Partnership position at Leeds University.
Dr Maria Felice Project: The use of ultrasonic array technology for the improved detection of complex flaws Sponsor: Rolls-Royce plc University of Bristol Maria’s EngD research was on improving the detection of complex and small cracks using ultrasound. Maria transferred a computer model from the University of Bristol to Rolls-Royce plc (R-R). This enabled ultrasonic inspections to be optimised in industrial situations, without needing multiple costly experiments. During her fellowship, Maria utilised specialised software for extracting crack shapes from X-ray Computed Tomography images, which enabled simulation of how ultrasound interacts with real crack shapes. Maria also used the model to investigate a new ultrasonic imaging method, which she then implemented at R-R to measure sub-millimetre cracks.
Maria conducted a project at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) on the ultrasonic inspection of parts made by Additive Manufacturing (AM). With the advisory support of R-R, her project looked ahead at the inspection challenges of AM parts that are within aircraft engines, where access is limited and where new defects may develop. A difficult characteristic of AM parts is that their internal surfaces are rough which can promote crack growth, and also makes cracks harder to detect. Maria used advanced ultrasonic imaging algorithms developed at the University of Bristol to image artificial cracks in AM parts. The results of this work will enable R-R and other British manufacturers to plan for ‘in-service’ inspection of AM parts.
Maria remains a Research Engineer in Metrology and NDT at the Manufacturing Technology Centre.
Dr Stuart Kennedy Project: Ground moving target detection and multi-channel radar imaging Sponsor: Selex ES University of Edinburgh Working within the radar algorithm development group at Selex ES, Stuart’s research aimed to allow detection of slow-moving objects, such as people, in synthetic aperture radar (SAR) images. These high resolution 2D images of the ground are captured by airborne radar over a few seconds but anything moving on the ground is not properly imaged. Detecting and imaging these targets has many applications in both civil and military surveillance. Over the course of the fellowship, Stuart developed new algorithms that can work within existing Selex ES SAR systems to suppress unwanted ground returns and enhance slow-moving targets. Techniques to automatically detect these slowmoving targets have also been demonstrated. This has all involved some novel work as well as a practical evaluation of existing methods from academic studies. New techniques have additionally been demonstrated to calibrate across the spatial channels in an existing Selex ES radar system. This work has also supported a NATO-sponsored international research collaboration which aims to consolidate the expertise across NATO from within industry, academia and government in the field of multi-channel radar imaging.
Since completing the Engineering Doctorate phase, Stuart has been working as a Selex ES employee using the expertise gained in the first years to develop SAR image formation algorithms to extend the capabilities of Selex ES SAR products to larger scene sizes and more difficult imaging scenarios.
Dr Nick Mills Project: Optimising sustainable energy production within the water industry Sponsor: Thames Water Utilities Ltd University of Surrey The UK water industry has huge, but as yet under-developed, potential to generate sustainable energy from the main by-product created in the treatment of wastewater. Sewage sludge is an energy rich sustainable biomass resource with a similar calorific value to woodchip.
Until recently, technologies and processes for further energy recovery have not been efficient or viable for large-scale use, but Nick’s research has shown that developments and innovations are now available and can realistically be brought into use. Using a combination of detailed techno-economic analysis and data from several large scale demonstration plants Nick has shown that the renewable energy produced from sewage sludge in the UK could be significantly increased.
A typical conventional Anaerobic Digestion site will achieve 15% electrical conversion efficiency; this can be improved to 20% with the Thermal Hydrolysis Process (THP). Second generation THP developed during the project could boost recovery to 23% with other benefits such as reduced support fuel requirements and sludge transport volumes. By combining THP, sustainable thermal drying and pyrolysis, gross conversion efficiencies of 34% to electricity are achievable. All of the scenarios developed by the project have been proven to be environmentally and economically sustainable and have been demonstrated at a large scale as part of the project.