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Professor Judith Driscoll from the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy has been awarded a Chair in Emerging Technologies by the Royal Academy of Engineering

Next-generation cameras that can see round corners, human-centred robots that can adapt to an individual’s assistive needs and light-powered retinal implants that can restore people’s vision are among the disruptive innovations championed by the Royal Academy of Engineering’s latest Chairs in Emerging Technologies announced today.

The Academy has made awards totalling over £20 million in research funding through its Chairs in Emerging Technologies programme, providing long-term support to nine world-leading engineers across the UK to advance emerging technologies.

The new technology areas developed by the Chairs in Emerging Technologies have the potential to considerably benefit society and the UK economy, and enable the nation to remain at the global forefront of engineering innovation. The areas of research funded reflect the UK’s wider technological priorities, with many of the projects directly aligned to the government’s Industrial Strategy and designed to tackle some of the biggest industrial and societal challenges of our time.

Professor Driscoll will develop and bring to industry highly innovative materials technology that can be used in non-volatile memory (NVM) storage. New NVM storage is essential to a wide range of growing data-centric technologies including IoT, transport, medicine, and AI. Professor Driscoll will explore potential materials for NVM, develop compositions and nanostructures, test a range of different memory device forms and liaise with industry on bringing the devices to commercialisation.

The ten-year support provided to the Chairs will enable them to progress their pioneering ideas from basic science through to full deployment and commercialisation.

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “The new technological areas advanced by our Chairs in Emerging Technologies have the potential to transform our everyday lives, as well as positively impact to the UK’s economy and generate new sources of wealth. Engineering is critical to achieving the goals of the UK government’s industrial strategy, and investment in emerging technologies means that we can secure our footing in important future markets.

“For these technologies to reach their full potential it is important to invest in the pioneering individuals who advocate for them, as without their vision and foresight it is difficult to identify the products and services of tomorrow.”

Dr Dame Frances Saunders DBE CB FREng, who leads the Chairs in Emerging Technologies steering group, said: “It has been a privilege to meet these outstanding individuals who have a passion for applying their engineering and scientific ideas to solving some really challenging problems. Their areas of research are all different, but what unites them is their clear vision and ambition for how they will make a difference through their work. I look forward to seeing what they will achieve over the next 10 years as recipients of these awards.”

The nine Chairs in Emerging Technologies are supported through the UK government’s Investment in Research Talent initiative. In recognition of the importance of engineering research to the UK, the government has provided the Royal Academy of Engineering with a significant increase in funding to attract and retain the best research talent to the UK and support their work.

Date awarded

25 April 2019

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Judith Driscoll