Engineers win prestigious award

Published: 9 October 2020

Research chairs awarded by the Royal Academy of Engineering

Two University of Glasgow engineers have each received prestigious research chairs awarded by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Professor Douglas Paul and Professor William Sloan from the James Watt School of Engineering are two of eight global leaders in their fields from across the UK named this month as Chairs in Emerging Technologies.

Over the next decade, they will each receive £2.7m in funding to support research to develop emerging technologies with a high potential to deliver economic and social benefit to the UK.

Professor Paul aims to develop cold-atom atomic clocks, accelerometers and rotation sensors that can be manufactured on single silicon chips and used for navigation without any reliance on satellites. Laser light is already used to slow atoms down by quantum processes and reduce their temperature close to absolute zero enabling accurate atomic clocks and quantum sensors, but present systems are large, heavy and expensive.

His research aims to develop chip scale quantum navigators that are sufficiently small to fit inside a mobile phone enabling resilient position, navigation and timing systems for all forms of transport.

Professor Sloan will develop new technologies to simultaneously tackle the most pressing global water problems and help decarbonise the water industry. Some 35% of the world's population, most of whom live in rural communities, lack access to either improved sanitation or safe drinking water. The western, centralised model for water supply and treatment is too energy- and capital-intensive to deliver sustainable solutions. Professor Sloan will harness the bioprocessing power of microorganisms to deliver clean drinking water and treat wastewater in rural communities using low-energy, sustainable, off-grid technologies.

There are now four Chairs in Emerging Technology at the James Watt School of Engineering. Professor Colin McInnes received the honour in 2018 to support a range of space-based research project. The following year, Professor Daniele Faccio of the University’s School of Physics & Astronomy won support for the development of imaging devices that combine artificial intelligence with emerging quantum detection technologies.

First published: 9 October 2020