10th EPSRC Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Meeting to be hosted at the University of Cambridge

The next EPSRC Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Research meeting will take place at the University of Cambridge on the 16-17th September 2015.

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9th EPSRC Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Meeting to be hosted at the University of Liverpool

The next EPSRC Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Research meeting will take place at the University of Liverpool on the 14-15th April 2015.

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On reflection: Benefits of EPSRC Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Research membership.

Prior to the recent refresh of EPSRC Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Research, the original members of the forum were asked to reflect on what they have gained by being part of it. The response of members was overwhelmingly positive with regard to their experience as members of the forum which is the first of its kind to be run by EPSRC. The following list is a summary of the stand-out points that came out of that discussion.

  • The development of new collaborations: giving new funding opportunities, joint publications between members, access to wide range of technical expertise, and the development long term contacts. Many of the developed collaborations are interdisciplinary, reflecting well on the diverse make-up of forum membership.
  • Working with people at a similar career stage and sharing collective experiences.
  • Useful discussions on different university practices with regard to teaching and learning, as well as research.
  • Excellent and enlightening technical discussions with others on the forum and a general broadening of understanding of the challenges across disciplines.
  • The wide variety of senior guest speakers, each of whom gave a useful and differing perspective to take away on career development in academia. One thing apparent to forum members was that they are subject to a different set of pressures than those the senior guest speakers might have experienced as early career researchers, due to the changing landscape.
  • A better understanding EPSRC’s internal workings, including structure and process as well as the development of direct contacts into the funding council.
  • Useful input on the topic of mobility which helped address questions about the benefits of staying at one institution versus moving around.
  • The opportunity to see other universities and the facilities therein, especially through lab tours.
  • Increased awareness of and indirect engagement with, the development of the policy through the presence of an ECF member on the Manufacturing the Future SAT panel.
  • Increased confidence and credibility.
  • Understanding departmental support in institutions and understanding what is reasonable to request in terms of support.
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8th EPSRC Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Meeting to be hosted at Nottingham University

The next EPSRC Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Research meeting will take place at the East Midlands Conference Centre and Orchard Hotel, University of Nottingham on the 13-14th January 2015.


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New ECF membership announced.

The next intake of ten members for the EPSRC Early Career Forum has now been finalised. We look forward to welcoming the new members at the next ECF meeting at Strathclyde on Monday 22nd September.

The new members will replace half of the inaugural membership to maintain the twenty strong forum. Each ECF member will undertake a two year period on the forum with half of the forum being refreshed on an annual basis.


Kate Black_small

Kate Black

Dr Kate Black gained her PhD in Material Science at the University of Liverpool in 2008. She then went on to join the University of Cambridge as a Research Associate in the Centre for Advance Photonic and Electronics, principally working on the development of novel materials by Atomic Layer Depostion (ALD) for their use in supercapacitors. In June 2013 Kate became a Lecturer in the Centre for Materials and Structures at the University of Liverpool, School of Engineering. Kate’s research interests are now primarily focused on the development of novel functional materials, using inkjet printing, for the manufacture of electronic and optoelectronic devices. Her main area of expertise is in the development of novel Reactive Organo-Metallic inks (ROM) which are particle-free and can be exploited to produce a wide a variety of functional materials, such as conductors, insulators and semiconductors.


Cinzia Casiraghi_smallCinzia Casiraghi

Dr Cinzia Casiraghi is a lecturer at the School of Chemistry at the University of Manchester. Her multi-disciplinary background– ranging from nuclear engineering to physics, from chemistry to electrical engineering – has enabled her to contribute in a wide range of research activities in applied material science. During her doctorate studies she strongly contributed to the development of ultra-high density data storage in magnetic disks and ultra-long storage in plastic bottles and she also established a leading activity in the application of Raman spectroscopy as non-destructive characterization tool in order to probe and tune the properties of carbon-based nanostructures for technological applications.

Currently her group is exploring the use of 2-dimensional materials, such as graphene, dichalcogenides, and their combination in superlattices and heterostructures, to develop new electronic devices and photovoltaics compatible with flexible substrates and low cost manufacturing technologies such as inkjet printing. Her group is also working on new functional materials to enable fabrication of biosensors and solar cells, by combining the properties of graphene with the processability and tunable properties of organic molecules.


Rachel Gomes_smallRachel Gomes

Rachel was appointed an Assistant Professor in the Manufacturing and Process Technologies Research Division at the University of Nottingham in late 2011, following an Anne McLaren Fellowship. Her research interests lie in sustainable resource utilisation towards wastewater treatment and chemical processes. Economic incentives are encouraging new approaches to manage resources and treat wastes within the manufacturing process to enable reuse, value recovery and/or safe release into the environment. Processes where bio-sourced feedstocks or catalysts are utilised are of particular interest, where inherent variability of the bio-input increases the system complexity. This complexity needs to be understood and accounted for when developing and evaluating a process that delivers a product – whether manufacturing chemicals to a required specification or wastewater fit for reuse. Rachel’s research vision and strategy seeks to progress this inter-disciplinary research area of adaptive bioprocessing.


Chris Holland_smallChris Holland

Chris is based in The University of Sheffield in the Materials Science and Engineering Department and is head of the Natural Materials Group where he currently holds an EPSRC Early Career Fellowship. His research uses tools developed for the physical sciences to better understand Nature’s materials, from latex to collagen, but with a focus on silk. By studying how silk is spun he has been able to gain unique insights into silks’ biodiversity, structure and evolution. Additionally, this work has made important links between natural and industrial fibre processing which has led to a fundamentally new way of designing, testing and fabricating bio-inspired materials. Today he combines multiple instruments with rheology, from microscopes and spectrometers to synchrotrons in order to understand exactly how silk proteins self-assemble into one of our most impressive materials. Outside of the lab he is also chairperson of the Recent Appointees in Polymer Science and sits on the scientific advisory board of Oxford Biomaterials which commercialises high-tech silk-based devices for a range of medical and non-medical applications.

Louise Horsfall_smallLouise Horsfall

Dr Louise Horsfall is a Lecturer in Biotechnology at the University of Edinburgh and also elected co-chair of the Bioengineering and Bioprocessing section of the European Federation of Biotechnology. She began her career as a chemist at the University of Oxford before moving to Liège, Belgium, to study biochemistry; gaining her PhD in 2007. Louise believes that biotechnology has the potential to transform manufacturing by using waste as a feedstock, rather than it being an end product. Current research projects include the use of bacterial metal reduction and nanoparticle formation pathways to enable the bioremediation of waste, water and land; employing techniques and tools provided by synthetic biology to increase the value of the metals recovered. Collaborative research with industry is focused on improving metallo-enzymes and their production for enhanced lignin degradation. Replacement of the current pretreatments with catalytic degradation would dramatically increase the energy efficiency of bioenergy production and provide new routes to the manufacture of aromatic feedstock chemicals.


Maiwenn Kersaudy-Kerhoas_smallMaiwenn Kersaudy-Kerhoas

Maïwenn is a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow in the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering at Heriot-Watt University since 2013. She obtained her PhD from Heriot-Watt University in 2010 and her main research focuses on the development of novel microfluidic tools for application in the field of non-invasive prenatal testing. Her interests in Manufacturing Research lie in micro and nanotechnologies, rapid prototyping and the development of cost-effective manufacturing processes for medium to high volume production of polymeric microfluidic components.   She is also interested in the replacement of petroleum-derived products by composites derived from renewable resources in the production of high-value microsystems. Maïwenn is delivering outreach activities about microsystems and microfluidics and would like to change the public attitude towards engineering and manufacturing from passive consumers to active problem solvers.


Laura Torrente Murciano_smallLaura Torrente Murciano

Laura Torrente is a lecturer in Chemical Engineering at the University of Bath (2010) and EPSRC Fellow in Manufacturing (2014). She is a member of the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technology and co-leads the “Process and Manufacturing” theme of its associated CDT. Prior to this, she worked as R&D Engineer at Repsol YPF (Spain) and as Research Associated in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London.

Her research focuses on the development of sustainable technologies for a wide range of applications such as sustainable energy (production of hydrogen from waste), use of bio-derived feedstocks and novel manufacturing routes. Her group has expertise in three complementary areas: i. development of stable metal nanoparticles-based catalysts and nanostructured materials ii. innovation on reactor design supported by fluid dynamic simulations, including micro-reactors and iii. integration of reaction and separation processes (e.g. membrane reactors and emulsions).

As part of her Fellowship project, she is developing novel manufacturing routes for the production of metal nanoparticles in the absence of capping agents combined with in-situ stabilization approaches using microdevices.


Ioannis Papakonstaninou_smallIoannis Papakonstantinou

Ioannis Papakonstantinou received his Diploma in Electrical and Computer Engineering from National Technical University of Athens and his PhD in Optical Interconnects from University College London in 2008. During his PhD in collaboration with his industrial and academic partners he developed and patented an optoelectronic connector for optical printed circuit boards which was successfully commercialised. In 2008-2009, he worked for Sharp Laboratories of Europe, investigating sub-wavelength diffractive films fabricated by nanoimprint lithography to improve the brightness, uniformity and power consumption of liquid crystal displays. He joined CERN-European Organisation for Nuclear Research in 2009, where he worked on Gb/s optical fibre communication links for the distribution of timing-trigger and control signals in the Large Hadron Collider. He was appointed as a Lecturer in the Electronic and Electrical Engineering Department at UCL in 2011.

Ioannis’ research interests at UCL focus on the theoretical modelling, design and fabrication of photonic nanostructures for energy efficiency, renewable energy generation and biomedical applications. His group projects include; bioinspired thermochromic windows with self-cleaning and antireflective properties for energy efficient glazing; miniature fibre-optic ultrasound transducers made of carbon nanotube and elastomer composites to guide minimally invasive procedures; luminescent solar concentrators for large area, cost effective PV; photonic metasurfaces to improve the timing resolution of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanners and visible light communications.


Thomas Rodgers_smallThomas Rodgers

Thomas Rodgers joined the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science at The University of Manchester in January 2013. He previously worked at Durham University as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate as a member of the Biophysical Sciences Institute, focusing on the super-coarse-grain modelling of protein and ligand binding. Prior to this, he graduated with a PhD in Chemical Engineering from The University of Manchester in 2011 funded by EPSRC and Unilever. His PhD focused on the processing and manufacture of formulated products.

His current research focuses on the development of manufacturing formulated products. He is interested in understanding how to take a product from laboratory/development scale through to production scale. He is developing and using advanced analytical techniques such as tomographic imaging to better understand – and thus improve – the manufacturing process at all scales.

Thomas’ research also examines how the manufacturing process affects the final product structure, and how this can be exploited for improvement of end products. He is currently engaged in active collaborations with both academic and industrial partners.


Tuck Seng Wong_smallTuck Seng Wong

Dr. Tuck Seng Wong is a lecturer in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Sheffield (TUoS). He is affiliated to Chemical Engineering at the Life Science Interface (ChELSI) Institute and Advanced Biomanufacturing Centre (ABC). He is also the founder of Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) to promote undergraduate research in TUoS. The research in Wong group focuses on applying advanced protein engineering technique, specifically directed evolution, to tailor the properties of biocatalysts/enzymes for industrial and pharmaceutical applications, as well as to elucidate the design principles used by Nature. There are three key areas that his research group is currently working on: (1) Development of novel molecular biology tools to advance the field of directed evolution (e.g., method to create high quality mutant library), (2) Application of directed evolution to improve existing properties of industrially relevant enzymes (e.g., cytochrome P450s, carbonyl reductases, aromatic peroxygenases and hydrolases) or to create novel functions, and (3) Development of computational tools to facilitate/expedite experimental design (e.g., method to analyse genetic diversity). Some of his research projects include (1) Biological carbon dioxide capture and utilization (CCU) for chemical syntheses, capitalizing on his interest in directed evolution and synthetic biology, and (2) Continuous biotransformation. Complementing protein engineering, his group also applies a wide array of biophysical techniques to study various properties of biomolecules (e.g., structure, stability, oligomeric state, protein-protein interaction, and protein-DNA interaction).


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7th EPSRC Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Meeting to be hosted by the University of Strathclyde

The next EPSRC Early Career Forum in Manufacturing Research meeting will take place at the University of Strathclyde on the 22nd-23rd September 2014

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Collaborative research through the EPSRC early career forum in manufacturing research

One of the remits of the EPSRC early career forum (ECF) in manufacturing research is to foster collaborative research between its members. This article gives an overview of some of the collaborative projects currently taking place as a result of the formation of the ECF. Taken as a whole the projects are all based in manufacturing research, but the work spans a wide range of STEM disciplines, reflecting the diversity of the ECF membership. There are a total of six formally funded projects currently ongoing amongst the collaboration activities.

Direct Digital Fabrication: Integration of Advanced Manufacturing Processes

Dr Jon Shephard – Heriot-Watt UniversityConnaughtonSmithKayShepard
Dr Robert Kay – University of Loughborough
Dr Patrick Smith – University of Sheffield
Dr Colm Connaughton – University of Warwick

Digital Fabrication is the direct manufacture of three-dimensional objects using additive or subtractive processes. It enables agile, on-demand and fully automated production in a wide range of manufacturing contexts and is a key enabling technology for future high-value manufacturing applications. Current Digital Fabrication technologies are limited in the range of materials which can be used, the processing speed, and the resolution available.

This project seeks to improve the ability to combine multiple materials e.g. metals and plastics, in a single process which at present is very restricted. This will be achieved by using a multi-process integration approach to Digital Fabrication where the best process for the application in hand can be selected. It combines the advantages of additive manufacturing, laser based processing and ink jet printing technologies to deposit and integrate different materials within each layer. Additionally, mathematical modelling will be employed to develop improved understanding of the physical processes governing these technologies.

The project addresses the fundamental scientific challenges required to interleave these different manufacturing techniques in order to achieve fine-grained control over the spatial distribution, microstructure and interface properties of the different materials to be laid down in each layer. These challenges include the integration of different Digital Fabrication processes, the use of configurable laser profiles to control droplet evaporation properties, and the use of laser-based surface texturing to improve the adhesion between the various layers and thus improve the overall mechanical properties of the part.

The project will provide the unpinning research to enable the production of three-dimensional structures from a range of materials. This academic team will work along with a consortium of industrial partners with strong track records in innovation for high value manufacturing applications.

In-situ monitoring of component integrity during additive manufacturing using optical coherence tomography

Dr Kristian Groom – University of SheffieldClareGroom
Dr Adam Clare – University of Nottingham


This project brings together researchers with complimentary skill sets in opto-electronic engineering, optical systems and precision manufacturing to meet the challenge of developing instrumentation for use in additive manufacturing. Advanced, in‐situ, real-time process control based on optical coherence tomography (OCT) will be applied to the additive manufacture of polymer parts. Application of this non-invasive imaging technique will bring additive manufacturing to the forefront of manufacturing capability with respect to product integrity, whilst also offering significant cost and resource savings.

Conventional imaging systems can only see surface topography, however OCT can see below the surface. A successful outcome of this project will be the realization of an OCT system capable of rapid analysis of the sub-surface structure (e.g. voids and composition) of additively manufactured parts composed of single or multiple plastics. A scheme will be developed for its incorporation into the additive manufacturing process whereby in-situ monitoring and real-time feedback and control is carried out to ensure process integrity is maintained.

Manufacturing Green Nanoparticles for Efficient Cell Manufacture

Dr Siddharth Patwardhan – University of ThomasBhaskaranKuhnPatwardhan
Dr Simon Kuhn – University College London
Dr Harish Bhaskaran – University of Oxford
Dr Robert Thomas – University of Loughborough

The material-cell interface is extremely useful in enabling exquisite control of cellular manufacturing. This project will develop new nature-inspired manufacture of bespoke green nanomaterials as substrates for cell growth. The green nanomaterials, which provide an environmentally friendly approach, are scalable and have promising biomedical applications. This project will establish the role of mixing in nanomaterials scale-up operations. By developing novel nano-probe techniques, this work will extensively investigate the material-cell interface.

This project aims to deliver large scale manufacturing of green nanomaterials suitable for cellular manufacture. This project involves collaborations across non-traditional disciplines involving nanomaterials chemistry, fluid dynamics, cell manufacturing and nanotechnology, and combining expertise from two EPSRC Centres for Innovative Manufacturing and two EPSRC Manufacturing Fellows.

Development of an optical system for on-line tracking of cell growth on microcarriers

Dr Karen Coopman – University of LoughboroughHaydn_croppedCoopman
Dr Haydn Martin – University of Huddersfield


In order that people can live longer and lead more active lives there is a need to develop novel affordable and effective treatments for ill health. In some cases, cells that we have within our own bodies can be used to repair damaged tissues or organs. However, in adults, this repair mechanism is very limited and often inefficient so we may need to rely on cells from donors. Unfortunately, since it takes billions of cells to repair, for example the heart muscle of a heart-attack patient, we must isolate cells from donors and expand their numbers before they can be used for treatment. Currently it is possible to do this at the laboratory scale, generating for instance, millions of mesenchymal stem cells in a stirred tank over a period of 2 weeks.

However, as we consider how this will be achieved on a bigger manufacturing scale, we need to develop tools that will help us monitor and control the process to ensure the cells grown in this way are the same every time. This feasibility project combines the expertise of both biologists and engineers, to create an optical device that can monitor the growth of these cells in this stirred tank environment by giving the operator information about cell number and morphology.

This project will generate an optical device based on interferometry to image moving microcarriers within the stirred tank bioreactor. This approach moves away from the need to manually sample from the bioreactor and carry out off-line analysis in order to assess cell growth progression and morphology and when to supplement in additional microcarriers in order to maximise cell yield.

Particle Shape and Flow behaviour in Laser Sintering: from modelling to experimental validation (PASF)

Dr Oana Ghita – University of ExeterSunGhita
Dr Jin Sun – University of Edinburgh


This project proposes to investigate the way the polymeric powders of different shapes and sizes flow, interact and sinter in the Laser Sintering process, through modelling and experimental validation.  Laser sintering is part of the additive manufacturing technology, known for its benefits in industries where custom made products, lightweight and complex designs are required.   In laser sintering a polymer powder bed is heated to just below its melt temperature. A laser is then focused onto the bed which scans a raster pattern of a single layer of the final part. The bed lowers slightly and a new layer of powder is applied. The process is then repeated until the component is made and the additive layer process is complete. The spreading and compaction of the powder is an important part of the LS process, a non-uniform layer of powder leads to high porosity and weaker bonding between layers and therefore a structure with poor mechanical performance. Similarly, the size and shape of particles can change the sintering process.  Larger contact areas between particles lead to a good sintering profile and ultimately to a high density part and good mechanical properties.  Surface area of particles, polymer viscosity and surface tension are characteristics which will be considered when modelling the flow and sintering process.This project is highly innovative as it will unlock the materials limitations for polymeric laser sintering and will allow rapid expansion into a wider range of higher value applications due to lower powders costs, wider choices and better understanding of their behaviour within the manufacturing process.

In addition to the EPSRC funded collaborative research projects outlined above, ECF members Oana Ghita and Patrick Smith have collaborated on the following publication:

Beard JD, Stringer J, Ghita OR, Smith PJ. (2013) High Yield Growth of Patterned Vertically Aligned Carbon Nanotubes Using Inkjet-Printed Catalyst, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, volume 5 (19), pages 9785-9790, DOI:10.1021/am402942q.

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