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Prof Nicole Grobert wins third Royal Society Fellowship

Professor Nicole Grobert has been awarded a Royal Society Industry Fellowship to work with Williams Advanced Engineering, part of the Williams group of companies that includes the WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING Formula One team. In doing so, she has become the first person to hold all three the Royal Society Industry, University Research and the Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship.

As part of her new industrial fellowship, Professor Grobert will support Williams Advanced Engineering’s Technology Ventures Group to help bring emerging nanomaterials technologies and IP to market.

Nanomaterials, which exist in a range of different shapes and include the “supermaterial” graphene, are so tiny that modern techniques such as advanced electron microscopy are required to see them. By definition, all nanomaterials are no bigger than 100 nanometres (100 billionths of a metre) in at least one direction.

Professor Grobert, who heads the Nanomaterials by Design Group in Oxford’s Department of Materials, said: ‘This Royal Society Industrial Fellowship provides an excellent opportunity to bridge the gap between research and industry and helps accelerate the commercialisation of this rapidly developing area of science. My group has already been working on a number of nanomaterial application engineering projects with Williams funded by Oxford University’s EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account and I look forward to more innovation projects with Williams and the wider industry under this Fellowship.’

‘Nanomaterials is a hugely exciting field in which the possibilities are limitless. In theory, nanomaterials can outperform traditional materials. They can be highly conductive, lightweight and ultra-strong. If we tackle current practical challenges related to manufacturing, characterisation, processing and handling, nanomaterials could be the answer to many of modern society’s problems including the ever increasing demand for better energy and healthcare solutions.’ (see also, Page 6: https://www.ccc.ox.ac.uk/data/uploads/pelicanrecord%20and%20sundial/Sundial_Issue7_v18.pdf )

She added: ‘Williams Advanced Engineering inspired me to apply for this fellowship with their vision of delivering performance engineered solutions that make a positive societal impact. Identified as one of the “eight GREAT technology areas” by the UK government, advanced materials combine both our science and business strengths, with UK material-related industries having a yearly turnover of £197 billion.

‘Key to the success of nanomaterials is a multi-pronged approach by designing new, controlled production routes and combining these with novel nano and classical materials with end-user applications in mind, and the Royal Society Industry Fellowship will enable this. In a few decades, nanostructured materials could easily exceed the importance that plastics have in our lives today.’

Managing Director of Williams Advanced Engineering, Craig Wilson, added: ‘Williams Advanced Engineering is extremely excited about Nicole joining our team of experienced engineers, and being able to continue to offer her deep knowledge of materials science across our programmes and ventures to help ensure we can deliver state-of-the-art technology solutions.’

Prof Patrick Grant FREng, Head of the Department of Materials, commented  ‘With our strong history of collaboration with world leading industries, we are delighted to participate in this Royal Society Industry award that will allow us to strengthen further our links with Williams Advanced Engineering. Through her earlier Royal Society funded Dorothy Hodgkin and then University Research Fellowships, Professor Grobert has generated the fundamental knowledge and facilities that allows large-scale, controlled manufacturing of nanomaterials in her laboratory. We are now looking forward to seeing the next generation of nanomaterials, designed at the Department, being incorporated in advanced engineering applications.’

About Williams Advanced Engineering

Williams is a leading Formula One team and advanced engineering company. Formed in 1977 by Sir Frank Williams and Sir Patrick Head, the company has secured 16 FIA Formula One World Championship titles since its foundation. The company's core competencies are the design and manufacture of Formula One race cars, and the deployment of this expertise in running the team's entries into the Grand Prix each season under the name Williams Martini Racing.

Williams has diversified its operations beyond Formula One and in 2010 established Williams Advanced Engineering, an engineering services and technology division. Williams Advanced Engineering combines cutting edge technology and the industry’s best engineers, with a precision and speed to market derived from four decades of success in the ultra-competitive environment of Formula One.

The business provides world class technical innovation, engineering, testing, manufacturing and operational consulting services to the automotive, motorsport, defence, aerospace, health and energy sectors. Working in close collaboration with their customers and partners, the company creates energy efficient performance to meet the sustainability challenges of the 21st Century.

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