Posted: July 24, 2010

NanoKTN announces winners of its 2010 EPSRC collaborative studentships

(Nanowerk News) The NanoKTN is pleased to announce that research projects at Aston University and the University of Dundee, have been awarded with collaborative studentships for 2010, which will result in collaborations with students and businesses with UK manufacturing and research bases. The projects, which look at the development of longer life, lithium-technology secondary cells and the use of nanodiamond coatings in engineering applications, have been recognised as key areas of importance for UK technology and business development.
The collaborative studentships are allocated by UK Research Councils and are a unique way of linking academic research with industrial need. Collaborative studentships are supported by companies that offer funding to students, in addition to their already secured EPSRC funding. By offering this, companies hope they will encourage development into the UK's strong technology market, as well as giving young researchers and scientists the opportunity to communicate their research to broader audiences.
Dr Gari Harris, University of Dundee, has been awarded with funding for his proposal to collaborate with Dundee-based battery supplier Axeon, to develop solid-state, long life, high capacity lithium-technology secondary cells for use in traction battery banks for hybrid and battery electric vehicles.
The next generation battery that Harris and his team intend to develop, will have a theoretical energy density that is several times higher than that of current market leading lithium ion cell variants, as well as being comparatively inexpensive due to the use of cheaper, more abundant materials. The nature of the work will be of great interest to the automotive industry, as the project aims to lead major changes in social attitudes towards electric vehicles.
Dr Haitao Ye, Aston University, will receive funding towards his project with Teer Coatings Ltd (TCL), set to look at the properties of high quality nanodiamond coatings.
The project will synthesise, engineer and functionalise nanodiamond coatings at temperatures of less than 400 degrees Celsius, for a wide range of high value engineering applications, including biomedical devices, MEMS and cutting tools. TCL currently provides commercial services to demanding customers in the F1 automotive and aerospace industry. A critical factor in the development of new systems is that performance and coating quality must be maintained. Accurate computational models will ensure that the product will provide reliable performance and cost-efficient high quality coatings which are well adhered, and offer low friction and high wear-resistance. The global market for PVD equipment, coatings and services was $9B in 2007 and is forecast to grow at a compound rate of 11%, with an anticipated size of $17B by 2013. Dr Haitao Ye hopes his project will ensure the UK is at the forefront of developments in this area.
Both of the successful applicants will receive EPSRC funding of approximately £66,000 over the course of their projects. In addition to this, the students will receive hosting from sponsors at their research and production facilities. Both projects will also receive an additional cash top-up of at least £22,000.
"The number of fantastic R&D proposals submitted to the NanoKTN is very exciting. There are so many great ideas out there and so many influential young scientists that hope to shape the future of UK technology and business," says Dr Alec Reader.
Reader continues, "Funding opportunities, like those provided through the EPSRC collaborative studentships are crucial to young scientists and also the future of UK businesses. Generating stronger relationships between academia and industry is of key importance to the NanoKTN and through the collaborative studentships we are able to do this. The NanoKTN is yet again pleased to be involved with the awards and we look forward to seeing what the future brings for this year's winners."
Source: nanoKTN