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University of St Andrews receives £3.7m funding boost

Ground-breaking Scottish research which aims to use nanotechnology to develop smart new materials, with a wide variety of applications from energy to healthcare, has been boosted by major Government investment.

The University of  St Andrews has won a  £3.7 million award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) towards equipment for advanced materials research, an area which underpins most technologies as modern materials involve fabrication on the nanoscale – about one thousandth of the width of a human hair.  The grant will fund machines that can make such tiny structures, powerful electron microscopes and ultrafast lasers for their study.

The grant will allow St Andrews to bring together a new facility which will be available to researchers at the University, and users outside St Andrews in both academia and industry.

Professor Ifor Samuel,  of the School of Physics and Astronomy said: “This is a very important award as it provides the advanced equipment we need to develop and study a new generation of materials to improve solar cells, fuel cells, batteries and medical devices.  The equipment will be used by nearly 200 materials researchers in St Andrews, and strengthen links to industry.”

The funding proposal was created by a team at the University including Professor John Irvine and Professor Peter Bruce, both of the School of Chemistry.

Professor Irvine said: “This is a very significant grant that will allow St Andrews to further strengthen its ability to translate its advances in fundamental science to new technologies, to the benefit of the UK economy and society as a whole.”

The funding is part of an £85 million package, with the aim of driving UK growth, announced by the Westminster Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts.

Mr Willetts said: “For Britain to get ahead in the global race we have to back emerging technologies and ensure our universities have the latest equipment. This capital investment will help scientists make new discoveries and take their research through to commercial success. It will drive growth and support the Government’s industrial strategy.”

The investment will underpin key sectors for the UK economy, including automotive, manufacturing, aerospace, energy, and healthcare.

Professor David Delpy, EPSRC Chief Executive said: “The successful bids will build capability in areas that are vital for the country and where exciting research is already being carried out. Developing new ways of storing energy, creating new materials for manufacturing and other industries, and increasing our understanding of how autonomous systems communicate, learn and work with humans.”

Notes to Editors

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is the UK’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. EPSRC invests around £800 million a year in research and postgraduate training, to help the nation handle the next generation of technological change. The areas covered range from information technology to structural engineering, and mathematics to materials science. This research forms the basis for future economic development in the UK and improvements for everyone’s health, lifestyle and culture. EPSRC works alongside other Research Councils with responsibility for other areas of research. The Research Councils work collectively on issues of common concern via Research Councils UK.

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