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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/L015978/1
Title: EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable and Functional Nano
Principal Investigator: Baumberg, Professor JJ
Other Investigators:
Hofmann, Professor S Reisner, Professor E
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Aixtron Ltd Base4 Innovation BP
Cambridge Display Technology Ltd (CDT) Cambridge Integrated Knowledge Centre Cavendish Laboratory
Centre for Process Innovation CPI (UK) Defence Science & Tech Lab DSTL Dyson Technology
Hitachi Europe Ltd IBM UK Ltd Microsoft
Nokia Plastic Logic Ltd Sharp Laboratories of Europe Ltd
TWI Ltd Unilever
Department: Physics
Organisation: University of Cambridge
Scheme: Centre for Doctoral Training
Starts: 01 April 2014 Ends: 30 September 2023 Value (£): 4,631,390
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Synthesis & Growth
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Electronics Energy
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
23 Oct 2013 EPSRC CDT 2013 Interviews Panel O Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Topic of centre:

Assembly of Functional NanoMaterials and NanoDevices, the focus of this training centre, aims to make significant progress in developing new functional NanoScience and NanoTechnologies for impact in four major areas: Energy Materials, Sustainable NanoMaterials, Nano-Bio Technologies, and NanoElectronics/Photonics. Each of these connects to strong societal challenges, which can be unlocked by critical advances in nano-assembly. The synergistic overlap of the underlying nano-assembly knots all these areas together so they act to pull early-stage overarching developments in clear application directions. Harnessing a massive existing collaboration of >150 interdisciplinary academics and promoting new interactions across the University of Cambridge, we can translate nascent science into real innovation, through the endeavour and focus of the cohorts within this CDT.

National Need:

Most breakthrough nanoscience relies on scientists bridging disciplinary boundaries. In the UK approach to science training, most graduates selecting PhDs never leave the comfort of their original discipline. Producing a cadre of interdisciplinary nanoscientists is crucial for the UK to develop both the new academic directions and the industrial capabilities to capitalise on the ideas emerging from the fertile ground of Nanoscience. This CDT opens the way to achieve this so that PhD students move into new departments. Our numerous industrial partners strongly emphasise that such broadly-trained interdisciplinary acolytes are highly valuable across their businesses, acting as transformers and integrators of new knowledge, crucial for the UK. These will be trained people in high demand.


The aim of this CDT in Nano is to attract a world-class team of postgraduates and build a high-calibre cohort of self-supporting young Nano scientists bridging our themed areas. The Nano CDT will operate as a distinct PhD nursery, with the entry co-housed and jointly mentored in the initial year of formal courses and project work. It is crucial to develop a programme that encourages young researchers to move outside their core disciplines, and that goes well beyond the fragmented graduate training normally experienced.

The 1st year provides high-quality advanced-level training prior to final selection of preferred research projects. Four components are important:

- learning additional skills in disciplines outside their 1st degree, including over 30 hands-on practicals in small groups, directly making and characterising nanomaterials and devices.

- understanding the Enterprise landscape relating to Nano-Innovation, gaining confidence and know-how for spin-outs, partnering, and what is critical in building high-tech spin-off companies,

- gaining specific knowledge of the nanoscience and application of self-assembly to NanoDevices and NanoMaterials, including nano-forces, nano-wetting, commercial nano processing, etc.

- miniprojects spanning different disciplines to broaden students' experience and peer networks, aiding final PhD project selection. Three 2-3 month-long interdisciplinary mini-projects within different departments will be undertaken by each student.

This coursework is examined leading to an MRes. Students will develop their own PhD topics during interactions with academics across the University and industrial mentors. Students express interest in a ranked list of top 3 projects, and are allocated approval to start building a case around a topic with the two supervisors involved. They are examined in a written proposal, and then a formal viva on the aims, methodologies and technical issues.

To prevent the subsequent pressures of research draining the cohort dynamics, a range of joint activities are programmed in later years. Additional exposure includes industrial research reviews, a series of mandatory internal (student-led) conferences, leadership and team-building weekends, and research seminars.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.cam.ac.uk