Published: 23 July 2014

University and NPL win three collaborative research awards

Three PhD studentships funded by Surrey and NPL will enable Surrey-NPL research into composite materials, cancer diagnosis and next generation wireless networks.

Strengthening Surrey’s long-term partnership with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the collaborative PhD research proposals were selected from among 17 strong competing bids, and follow the three successful collaborative research studentships awarded by the University of Surrey and NPL in 2009.

Led by Dr Silvia Pani of the University’s Department of Physics and Dr Giuseppe Schettino of NPL, one studentship project aims to develop a mammography screening technique based on the use of gold nanoparticles and a novel detector. This technique could highlight the presence of cancer at a very early stage, using a lower radiation dose than conventional procedures, and thereby minimising the cumulative radiation dose over a lifetime. The project is entitled ‘Effectiveness of Au nanoparticles as contrast agent in diagnostic applications using hyperspectral X-ray imaging’.

Dr Pani commented, “Improving the capability of mammography for detecting early stage cancer whilst reducing radiation dose is an ongoing challenge for X-ray scientists. This project will allow us to meet the challenge by combining the expertise in nanoparticles within both the NPL and Surrey’s Ion Beam Centre, and the Department of Physics’ expertise in the development of imaging techniques and technologies.”

The second studentship, ‘Nonlinear Microwave Metrology for Next Generation Wireless Applications’ is being led at Surrey by Dr Peter Aaen of the Department of Electronic Engineering and at NPL by Nick Ridler. The project aims to develop better techniques for measuring and modelling nonlinear devices and systems, enabling more efficient power amplification to support the 5G wireless networks of the future.

Dr Aaen explained, “As next generation wireless networks are expected to support traffic that exceeds today’s levels by several orders of magnitude, the challenge will be to maintain an efficient communications infrastructure. By developing a nonlinear measurement procedure, we hope to be able to identify international traceable standards and characterisation methods that will benefit the worldwide research community.”

The third collaborative studentship, ‘Development of validated approaches for the performance assessment of fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) composite structural elements’, is being led at Surrey by Professor Andy Crocombe of the Department of Mechanical Engineering Sciences and at NPL by Mike Gower. The studentship will link state-of-the-art non-destructive-evaluation techniques with advanced techniques for modelling composite materials behaviour in structural applications, enabling manufacturers to assess damage and predict how this will affect a product’s lifetime performance. This will enable better, more efficient designs across a range of industries including wind energy, aerospace, automotive, construction, prosthetics and sports.

“Linked to a larger project being carried out by NPL within the European Metrology Research Programme, this project will further strengthen links between NPL and Surrey within the context of the European measurement community,” said Professor Crocombe.

Professor Karen Kirkby, Associate Dean (Research and Enterprise) at the University of Surrey said, “We are delighted to announce these three collaborative research awards, which build on the success of our relationship with NPL.  The previous round of Surrey-NPL PhD awards resulted in high quality outputs, patents and research funding and I am sure that these new awards will be equally successful.”

Professor Graham Sims of NPL commented, “Our long-term collaboration with the University of Surrey has led to many successes over the years and continues with these studentships, which bring our collaborative research, based on metrology and applied science, to three very different fields.”


Discover our programmes in Physics, Electronic Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Sciences.


Share what you've read?