2011 Alumni Science Evening
The address was given by Professor Alan Windle. Previously a Royal Commissioner for ten years and Chairman of the Commission's Science & Engineering Fellowships Committee for five of these, Professor Windle is a materials scientist whose research career has spanned Metallurgy, Polymers and Nanotechnology. He holds the Chair of Materials Science at Cambridge University, and leads a research group which has carbon nanotubes as its major theme.
In the Spirit of 1851: from the Crystal Palace to Carbon Nanotubes
The 1851 Commission's Royal Charter sets the objective of extending - "the influence of science and art on productive industry". By 1854 the Great Exhibition had been a huge success, the Crystal Palace had been moved from Hyde Park to the top of a hill in south London, and, crucially, the profits applied in perpetuity to keep alive both its spirit and its objectives. Materials Science, lies at the heart of applied science, at the interface between the purer sciences and industry. In describing recent research in my group at Cambridge, the lecture illustrated an example of academic research at this interface.
Carbon nanotubes are an exciting form of matter, a focus of attention in the spotlight of the C60 discovery and the consequent Nobel prizes. They are highly conductive and hugely strong, however the challenge is to realise these brilliant properties in a useful form, as a material, something that can benefit industry and thus society. The development of the Cambridge process for the direct spinning of high performance fibres has combined the principles of floating catalyst, elastic smoke and vapour condensation. The product, a carbon nano-yarn, has some unique properties and thus a range of potential applications. Along, the way Professor Windle interspersed some personal thoughts on an academic entering the entrepreneurial world, the interaction with the media, as well as the challenge of understanding why the ‘nano' brand is proving so powerful. Finally, he looked at how some principles established with the Crystal Palace are still being reinvented today and are at the core of nanotechnology.
Prior to the keynote address, four Royal Commission current Fellows presented their research projects:
Dr Nanda Kishore - Science and Engineering Research Fellow - Advanced simulation of clean coal combustion in fluidized beds. Nanda gained a 1st Class Chemical Engineering degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur and is now with the School of Engineering Sciences at the University of Southampton looking at clean coal technologies to achieve higher efficiency and lower emissions. His Fellowship research has so far focused on deriving drag laws and heat transfer models for different solid particle shapes and flow conditions. The title of his presentation was "Drag and heat transfer coefficients of unconfined, confined and multiple spheroid particles"
Dr Gavin Morley - Science and Engineering Research Fellow - Atomic-scale spintronics with electronic transport in silicon (ASSETS). Gavin is carrying out his fellowship at University College, London having graduated from Oxford University in Physics, gaining a Distinction for his research in low temperature physics. Winning the Scott Award and Examiners' Commendation for Experimental Work Gavin has also filed a number of patents. His presentation focused on quantum computing.
Mr Robert Akena - Industrial Fellow - Energy efficiency for road and rail transport. Robert is an engineer with Amey Infrastructure and gained his degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Kampala in Uganda. He came to the UK in 2003 where he achieved a distinction for his MSc in Road Management and Engineering at the University of Birmingham. For his 1851 Industrial Fellowship, Robert is looking at Energy Efficiency for Road Transport. Employed by Amey Infrastructure he has been carrying out field studies on fuel consumption using vehicles and drivers from Amey's Logistics Department.
Mr Tim Barry - Industrial fellow - A novel hand held infra-red thermometer. Tim was awarded an Industrial Fellowship in 2008 and has been designated the ERA Foundation Fellow which is granted to Fellows in the electro-technology sector. Tim was awarded a First Class Degree in Electronic Engineering at Oxford Brookes University before joining Calex Electronics in 2000. Tim's research has focused on eliminating thermal shock errors, overcoming adverse ambient temperature effects and optimising optical performance.