Themes

The Faculty's research strategy encompasses seven multi-disciplinary themes, listed below. Each of these comprises contributions from several disciplines and research groupings summarised in this matrix (PDF file).

Advanced materials, devices and nanotechnology

The science of materials and their applications underpins much of modern technology. The subject is highly interdisciplinary by its nature.

The Advanced Technology Institute focuses on the functional materials for electronic and photonic devices. Here Chemists produce new materials, physicists study the electronic and optical properties, and electronic engineers work to apply them in useful devices and circuits.

Cross cutting themes include energy (in particular photovoltaics and LEDs), healthcare and information technology. The Ion Beam Centre is the UK’s national centre for research in ion beams and their applications, for example in silicon micro- and nano-electronics.

Elsewhere in the Faculty, research concentrates on structural materials and their mechanical, structural and thermodynamic properties. Civil engineers work alongside materials scientists and physicists on infrastructure and geotechnics, soft matter physics, interface science and engineering, surface phenomena and structural materials functionality.

  • Nanoelectronics
  • Displays
  • Ion beam implantation
  • Ion beam analysis
  • Carbon nanotubes
  • Photonics
  • Condensed matter physics
  • Spintronics
  • Condensed matter theory
  • Nanomaterials
  • Ceramics
  • Structural damage
  • Structural systems
  • Materials chemistry
  • Soft matter

Aerospace, fluid dynamics and vehicles

This theme covers transport through space, air and on the road.

The Surrey Space Centre (SSC) houses multidisciplinary world class academic engineering research teams that specialise in RF, dynamic control, propulsion, remote sensing, robotics and planetary environments for space systems. SSC underpins developments in Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) which is world renowned for designing, building and launching low cost satellites.

Building on strong links with Formula 1 teams, the Vehicle Engineering group’s research areas are vehicle simulation and trackside analysis, design and manufacturing support and systems engineering support.

In Fluids research the Thermo-Fluid Systems University Technology Centre, supported by Rolls-Royce Plc, focuses on turbomachinery internal fluid and thermal systems and the Environmental Flow Research Centre (EnFlo) works on laboratory scale simulation of atmospheric flow and pollutant dispersion.

Outside the main contributors to this theme, the Geometry, Mechanics and Fluids group in Mathematics conducts research on astrodynamics with SSC and on atmospheric fluid flows with EnFlo.

  • Spacecraft
  • Robotics
  • Remote Sensing
  • Satellite communications
  • On-board computing
  • Astrodynamics
  • Fluid dynamics
  • Meteorology
  • Vehicle engineering
  • Thermofluid systems
  • Atmospheric flow.

Health and life science interface

This theme gathers together the diverse activities within the engineering and physical sciences with applications in bio-medicine. There is significant research throughout the Faculty in this area and there are many Centres and Departments that contribute to this theme.

The Faculty has a significant activity in cancer care and other major health concerns. Medical physicists in the Centre for Nuclear and Radiation Physics work on diagnosis and therapy technologies and collaborate with electronic engineers from the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing who are improving imaging modalities. For the aging society, the Institute for Communication Systems (formerly the Centre for Communication Systems Research, CCSR) is developing systems for assisted living.  Engineers in the Ion Beam Centre within the Advanced Technology Institute conduct translational medical research using a vertical nanobeam in conjunction with mathematical models developed by chemical engineers to study tumour growth, proliferation and patient outcomes.

Within Biomedical Engineering, technology is applied to the development of equipment and measurement methods for use in healthcare. Research on biomaterials, proteins and cells is carried out by physicists and materials scientists in Materials Research.

There are mathematicians performing biological and  medical modelling in the Modelling, Numerics & Applications group, and computer scientists are working on the development of computational methods for identification of disease in the Biologically Inspired Modelling and Applications group. 

  • Cancer
  • Cancer Care
  • Radiotherapy
  • Medical imaging
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Biochemical sensors
  • Medical applications of ion beams
  • Disease identification
  • Assisted living
  • Patient monitoring
  • Biological &medical modelling
  • Ecology
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials
  • Bio-mimetics.

Information and communication technologies

Information and Communications Technologies research is, naturally, mainly the preserve of electronic engineers and computer scientists.

The Institute for Communication Systems (formerly the Centre for Communication Systems Research, CCSR), within electronic engineering, is the largest academic grouping in communications in Europe. Research covers systems for wireless and mobile communications beyond 3G, satellite and fixed networks, higher layer applications areas, new services and sensor networks.

The Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing, also within electronic engineering, engages in research on multimedia signal processing and multimodal sensory data analysis. The focus is on developing high level machine perception technology and the centre has strong links to The Institute of Sound Recording (IoSR) from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Computing, research focuses on the software aspects of secure communications in Formal Methods and Security group, communications in complex systems in Digital Ecosystems group, computational models and algorithms inspired from natural intelligence and their applications in Nature Inspired Computing and Engineering group, security and forensics issues related to multimedia data and devices in Multimedia Security and Forensics group

Outside of the main contributors to this theme, researchers in the Advanced Technology Institute are developing new electronic and opto-electronic devices and technologies for hardware systems while researchers in the Ion Beam Centre are using experimental and theoretical studies to push the frontiers of novel device development.

  • Digital economy
  • Mobile communications
  • Satellite communications
  • Optical communications
  • Networks
  • Vision and speech processing
  • Multimedia
  • High speed devices
  • Displays
  • Smart grids
  • Energy efficiency
  • Neural networks
  • Information Security.

Mathematics and theoretical physical sciences

This theme highlights nonlinear mathematics and its applications, theoretical physics, and computational modelling of complex phenomena.

In Mathematics research is organised around five themes: Analysis of Partial Differential Equations, Ergodic Theory, Geometry, Mechanics & Fluids, Modelling, Numerics and Applications and Mathematical Statistics. A particular focus is placed on two-way interactions at the interface between pure and applied research, between the development of new mathematics and the modelling and analysis of concrete problems.

Cross-disciplinary research areas that Mathematics contribute to include the dynamics and control of spacecraft (with the Surrey Space Centre), environmental fluid flows (with the Fluids Research Group and the Centre for Environmental and Sustainability), biomedical modelling (with Physics), systems biology (with Microbial Sciences), and the modelling and analysis of complex social and economic systems (with ComputingSociology and the Centre for Environmental and Sustainability).

Theoretical physics research includes theoretical condensed matter physics (Advanced Technology Institute and Materials Research) and theoretical nuclear physics (Nuclear and Radiation Physics).

  • Applied maths
  • Partial differential equations
  • Ergodic theory
  • Geometry
  • Mechanics
  • Astrodynamics
  • Complexity
  • Statistics
  • Condensed matter theory
  • Theoretical nuclear physics
  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Theoretical biophysics
  • Signal processing
  • Mathematical biology.

Nuclear and radiation science

Fundamental science is central to the ethos of the Faculty, which is home to one of the largest nuclear physics groups in the country.

The Centre for Nuclear and Radiation Physics (CNRP) brings together expertise in both pure and applied nuclear physics, covering both experimental and theoretical aspects.

The pure research focuses on studies of exotic nuclei using radioactive beams; experiments are performed at leading European and other international accelerator facilities. The applied research has an emphasis on radiation detector/sensor science and also includes studies of environmental radiation effects and medical physics applications. There is a formal research link with the Royal Surrey County Hospital. There are also strong links between the radiation physicists in CNRP and the Ion Beam Centre within the Advanced Technology Institute.

  • Nuclear physics
  • Nuclear energy
  • Nuclear astrophysics
  • Environmental protection
  • Radiotherapy
  • Medical Imaging
  • Radiation detectors
  • Radiation effects
  • Radiation mitigation.

Sustainability, energy and environment

This theme encompasses the requirements of the new political and business agenda. As well as policy research, there is significant activity throughout the Faculty in this area on technology solutions for generation of resources and their efficient and cleaner use.

The Surrey Energy Network links energy-related research and teaching from across the University, enabling multidisciplinary activities. Within the Faculty energy technology development includes photovoltaic work by physicists and electronic engineers in The Advanced Technology Institute and “green radio” by communications engineers in the Institute for Communication Systems (formerly the Centre for Communication Systems Research, CCSR). Modelling and analysis is undertaken of high efficiency processes for bioenergy and petroleum refineries in Chemical Engineering, and of SmartGrids in CES.

Similarly, the University’s Water Network brings together civil engineers from Environmental Health Engineering, chemical engineers from Osmosis Research and sustainability analysis and policy from CES. The Network undertakes a broad and dispersed range of “water related” activities including: water quality and health, sustainable water, wastewater and desalination treatment processes.

The Surrey Space Centre produces satellites that contribute to Earth Observation and develop environmental data. The Department of Mathematics collaborates with CES on issues relating to climate change, and with CES, Computing and Sociology on the modelling and analysis of industrial ecosystems.

In regards to air quality, Surrey's Global Centre for Clean Air Research aims to realise a collaborative global vision of ‘clean air for all’ by understanding the impact of air pollutants on life quality, developing internationally-validated engineering-driven solutions and underpinning regulatory strategies.

  • Energy policy
  • Climate policy
  • Climate change
  • Consumption
  • Environmental protection
  • Photovoltaics
  • Energy efficient technologies
  • Nuclear power
  • Industrial ecology
  • Geotechnics
  • Earth observation
  • Osmotic water purification
  • Water supply and drainage.

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