University of Glasgow-led consortium receives £1.5m advanced materials grant

Published: 13 March 2015

Researchers from the University of Glasgow are beginning work on a £1.5m collaboration to develop new advanced material technologies.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow are beginning work on a £1.5m collaboration to develop new advanced material technologies.

Over the next five years, material scientists from the College of Science and Engineering will establish a research consortium with partners in Japan, Russia and Australia to explore technologies which exploit aspects of electronic chirality.

Chirality is the symmetry property of an object to exist as distinguishable left- and right-handed forms. A familiar real world-example is human hands - mirror images which cannot be superimposed. Chirality underpins our understanding of research fields as diverse as particle physics and molecular biology.

It also governs useful electronic and optical properties of many advanced materials, and the goal of the project is to establish an international consortium that will exploit electronic chirality in advanced materials, with a particular interest in their electromagnetic response

The consortium will combine international expertise spanning the synthesis, characterisation and theory of chiral electronic media with an ambition to make advances ranging from next generation information and communication technologies to improved bio-sensors.

The funding has been awarded by the UK Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and will support a broad suite of fundamental research, symposia and researcher exchanges that will have long-term sustainability.

It will link the Glasgow team to 18 core scientists from Universities and Institutes in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyushu and Hiroshima, and be further augmented by collaboration with Ural Federal University, Russia and Monash University, Australia. Matching funds have been secured from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science “Core to Core” scheme, which is designed to create world-class research hubs in research fields considered to be cutting-edge and internationally important.

Professor Bob Stamps of the University of Glasgow’s School of Physics and Astronomy, is the project’s lead researcher in Glasgow.

Professor Stamps said: “Ever since the term ‘chirality’ was first coined by Lord Kelvin in 1893, it has been a research theme in the University of Glasgow.

“Our new Japanese colleagues, for example, initially sought us out on the basis of our international expertise in two distinct areas underpinned by chirality: bio-sensor technologies and electron microscopy of magnetic materials. The University already enjoys a world-lead in these fields and what is exciting about the new consortium is that it will bring them together.

“This new international collaboration is rooted in a number of distinct research themes across the UK and Japan, and by combining them, we will develop fresh insight and, hopefully, entirely new science.”

Professor Laurence Barron, pioneer in chiral spectroscopy and Emeritus Gardiner Professor of Chemistry at the University of Glasgow, said: "This is great news for the University. Chirality is the quintessential cross-disciplinary subject, and I’m sure Lord Kelvin would have approved of this combination of world-leading expertise from the Schools of Physics and Astronomy and Chemistry, together with distinguished international collaborators, to develop new fundamental insights and practical applications, especially those based on the subtle interplay of chirality and magnetism, the exciting potential of which remains largely untapped."

First published: 13 March 2015

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