A University of Leicester project which will
have implications for the quality of magnetic recording
has won a prestigious Innovation Fellowship, allowing
researchers to develop its commercial potential.
Chris Binns, Professor of Nanoscience at the University's Department of Physics
and Astronomy, heads the project, which is a collaboration with Dr Robert Lamberton
of Seagate and Dr Roer Bayston of the Queen's Medical Centre at Nottingham. The
project aims to develop a new facility that is capable of coating a surface with
metal nanoparticles at a very high rate.
This is a new way of making metal films. Instead of coating a surface in vacuum
with atoms as with a conventional evaporator, the element is first formed into
tiny nanocrystals, typically containing a few hundred atoms. These pre-formed
nanoparticles are then deposited onto surfaces.
It is a generic technology for making "nanostructured films" and it has applications
for the magnetic recording industry in making very high performance magnetic
films. The work with magnetic films has been done in collaboration with Seagate.
More recently Professor Binns' research team have moved in a new direction, by
making anti-microbial coatings by depositing silver nanoparticles. This could
have important applications in surgical implants and is being carried out in
collaboration with the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham.
The target of the research is to have the high-flux source depositing nanostructured
films for testing prototypes in magnetic read/write heads and in antimicrobial
At the University, Professor Binns is working with Dr Mark Everard, whose post
is funded by the Innovation Fellowship.
The project has also received £54,000 for 12 months from Seagate up to
April 2005, and Professor Binns is now negotiating with Seagate for a new tranche
Further information is available from Professor
Chris Binns, Professor of Nanoscience, Department
of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester,
Tel 0116 252 3585, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Innovation Fellowships fill a funding gap between the academic and commercial
worlds. In the last round of bids for Innovation Fellowships, University of Leicester
academics were highly successful in receiving two awards. Funded by EMDA and
HEFCE, these competitive awards operate across all five East Midlands Universities
and offer funding of approximately £12,000 to each successful project.
The key is commercialisation of ideas, products or processes, and the funding
aims to help academic researchers reach out into the world of business and industry
in spin-out companies or collaborative research ventures that may lead to commercial
investment or contracts.