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Dr Sam Stranks, Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology

 Development of Novel X-Ray Scintillators for Medical Imaging

The ultimate goal of this activity is to develop efficient and stable perovskite materials for sensitive X-ray detection that outperform current technologies in medical imaging, security and food safety. The seed funding project was a resounding success, with the £10k already converting into over £1M in funding that is driving both academic and commercialisation efforts, as well as technical demonstration of radioluminescence from our films.

The activities contributed to an EPSRC award within the Transformative Healthcare Technologies scheme (EP/W004445/1) entitled ‘Revolutionizing Medical Imaging (ReImagine) through Ubiquitous, Low-Dose, Automated Computed Tomography Diagnostic Systems’ where we aim to realise new paradigms for X-ray imaging with a cross-school team of Dr Sam Stranks (CEB), Prof. Evis Sala (Radiology), Prof. Carola-Bibiane Schönlieb (DAMTP), Dr Fairen-Jimenez (CEB) and partners at Loughborough, Leicester and Leiden Universities, Cheyney, Scintacor, Immaterial, and GE Research.

Further funding was secured through the 2020 EPSRC Core Equipment Call to purchase a time-resolved radioluminescence X-ray system for advanced characterisation of our scintillators. This setup will come online in October 2021 as a Strategic Research Facility (SRF), future proofing the activity and providing unique equipment that will be useful for a number of researchers across the University and wider industrial community. Finally, the project has also boosted commercialisation efforts in this space through the award of an ERC Proof on Concept grant (Perovskite Scintillators for X-Ray Imaging) and an EPSRC IAA grant.


Professor Adam Boies, Div A Energy, Fluid Mechanics and Turbomachinery, Engineering Department

Advanced Carbon Application and Manufacturing of Building materials (ACAMB) Initiative

The Seed Funds have been used to develop the Advanced Carbon Application and Manufacturing of Building materials (ACAMB) Initiative to expand efforts for chemical conversion of natural gas and biogas to H2 and solid carbons. The initiative aims to establish a network of industrial and academic collaborators who are interested in the application of solid carbon materials that serve as net sequestering materials for CO2, and as they can replace traditional building materials, a potentially profitable means of carbon utilization.

Funding has been awarded so far from the Carbon Hub, Innovate UK for “Low cost catalytic conversion of methane to high purity hydrogen for Foundation Industries (UKRI)” and from industrial partners, including via an IUK grant led by spin-out company Q-Flo Technologies on carbon nanotube (CNT) EMI Shielding.


A notable outcome is that our CNT materials have been demonstrated to be excellent multifunctional filtration materials, allowing both capturing and destruction of SARS  viruses. This achieved press coverage in the Cambridge Independent and Engineering & Technology and is being commercialized by industrial partners Q-Flo, Tortech and Camfil.


Professor PJ Clarkson, Engineering Design Centre, Engineering Department 

Creating a Cambridge People~Systems Experience Laboratory (CaP~SEL)

The concept of the CaP~SEL is to facilitate the diversity of the population to be engaged in the development of service systems, and particularly technical systems. The CaP~SEL could provide the facility in which researchers and industries interested in the relationship between people and systems can coalesce. This brings the potential to bring together diverse disciplines such as architecture, human-computer interaction, psychology, healthcare, as well as engineering and inclusive design to focus on the relationship between people and the systems that they interact with. The facility could provide easy access to the often-missing element, ‘real people’, in the research and development of systems. This could help ensure that future technologies and systems invented, researched and developed in Cambridge are fit for real people to use, and thus can benefit society-at-large.

The Seed Fund part-funded a small architectural scoping project:

  • Engagement with Estates and an architectural consultancy, Burwell Associates to scope the facilities for the centre.
  • Development of ‘fly-through’ CAD visualisations for the CaP~SEL facility.
  • Engagement with academics throughout the University to determine the level of potential interest in the facilities.

Flythrough visualisations were developed to assist with CaP~SEL scoping and communication to stakeholders.

 Image from fly-through visualisation showing mock-up of Hospital Emergency Room entrance

Professor Geoff Moggridge, Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology

Contact killing of coronavirus by copper impregnated polymers

This School Seed Fund Project successfully established that:

  • Their best performing proprietary copper polymer technology kills >99.9% Mouse Hepatitis Virus (MHV) in under an hour, >100 times superior to Copper3D polymer (main competitor) via MHV splash testing on copper impregnated films with different copper concentrations.
  • Impregnation and coating of polycarbonate samples resulted in a surface layer suitable for face mask applications with insignificant copper leaching of the samples demonstrated (much lower than drinking water limits).
  • Nonwoven polypropylene filters for face mask application could be impregnated and coated, with breathability well within standard limits, with whole mask prototypes successfully coated by dip coating and spraying.

The project has led to a successful Wellcome Trust Enabling Technologies application, with the potential to also win Innovate UK funding.

Further to this SARS-CoV-2 splash tests on proprietary copper impregnated polymers films demonstrated >99% virus killing within an hour, 8 times faster than the competitor polymer.

myMaskFit has been working with Cambridge to apply the coating to their prototype mask shown, transparent masks are in production with the aim to eliminate the disposable FFP3 masks shortly, and with the custom fitting of these masks make them reusable saving waste, improving comfort and providing 99.9% filtration efficiency to our health workers