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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/M015157/1
Principal Investigator: Gavriilidis, Professor A
Other Investigators:
Mazzei, Professor L NGUYEN, Professor TTK Jones, Professor A
Parkin, Professor IP Lettieri, Professor P Tang, Professor J
Makatsoris, Professor C Dua, Dr V Pankhurst, Professor QA
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
BBI Group (British Biocell Int) (UK) Centre for Process Innovation Limited CMAC EPSRC Centre
National Physical Laboratory NPL Resonant Circuits Limited Technology Strategy Board (Innovate UK)
Department: Chemical Engineering
Organisation: UCL
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 15 June 2015 Ends: 18 October 2021 Value (£): 2,482,246
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Design & Testing Technology Particle Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
28 Oct 2014 MAFuMa Interview Panel B Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Inorganic nanoparticles have the potential to dramatically modify existing materials while providing the capability to engineer a broad range of transformative new products. Exhibiting unique properties not encountered in bulk materials, inorganic nanoparticles present the opportunity to address, and the potential to overcome, some of the most pressing global challenges. This is leading to intense global competition to develop and commercialize nanoproducts with a variety of applications in healthcare, energy, transport and security, with the aim of acquiring a dominant market position in the nanotechnology sector. Nanoparticles offer ideal solutions for detecting and treating many diseases. They can be used as drug carriers, labelling and tracking agents, and vectors for gene therapy, hyperthermia treatment and magnetic resonance imaging contrast agents. Used as targeted drug-delivery systems, they can improve the performance of medicines already on the market. They enable the development of new therapeutic strategies such as anti-cancer drug delivery, extending product life cycles and reducing healthcare costs. In this proposal we focus on the manufacturing of gold nanoparticles (Au-NPs) and iron oxide magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs). These materials have existing applications in diagnostics and therapeutics. Bespoke monodispersed functionalised NPs offer new applications in antimicrobial surfaces (Au NPs plus dye) and in a new hyperthermia treatment for cancer (MNPs). UCL is at the forefront of the engineering approach to make nanoparticles as well as being world leading in magnetic hyperthermia and antimicrobial surfaces.

Nanoparticles are conventionally synthesized in relatively small batch reactors. These systems are poorly controllable, leading to products that are hard to reproduce. Also, they do not lend themselves to expedient upscaling. Such problems are caused by the inefficient mixing and slow heat and mass transfer characterizing batch reactors, and by the difficulty of decoupling in time the various stages of the synthesis, particularly particle nucleation and growth. This research aims to design and demonstrate a new, sustainable and scalable approach for manufacturing high-value nanomaterials with advanced properties in a way that is controllable and reproducible and that does not involve significant upscaling issues. To attain this ambitious goal, we will integrate methods, skills and strengths of different disciplines (materials chemistry, engineering), seeking guidance from industrial partners and UK manufacturing centres. Giving us access to their state-of-the-art facilities, sharing their expertise and providing an application context for our work, they will further characterize the nanoparticles, evaluate their performance and facilitate pathways to manufacture and routes to market.

There is currently a lot of research in developing novel materials, where the focus is on discovery but with little emphasis on manufacturing. Using chemical engineering principles and systems engineering methodologies within a multidisciplinary framework, our research will demonstrate not only the need to consider key physical phenomena (mixing, heat transfer etc.) in nanoparticles synthesis, but also how to account and address related manufacturing challenges from the outset. In this way, an important benefit of this project will be to provide a paradigm shift in nanoparticle synthesis and production and bridge the discovery-manufacturing divide.

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