Royal Society Brian Mercer award – Oct. 31st 2013
On October 31st, the 2013 Royal Society “Brian Mercer” Awards for Innovation were announced at the annual Labs to Riches meeting, an event held at the Royal Society in London and attended by HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York.
At this event, Professor Howard Colquhoun, from the University’s Department of Chemistry, received one of the three Brian Mercer Feasibility awards for 2103. These awards each provide funding of £30,000 to help with progressing a research discovery towards commercial exploitation.
Professor Colquhoun’s award was in recognition of research, carried out with PhD student Stephen Meehan, that resulted in the discovery of new chemistry for the synthesis of high-performance polyesters. These advanced materials are currently being developed for renewable-energy applications, for example as support-films in large-area photovoltaic cells for solar energy production. International patent specifications for the new materials and their applications, naming Prof. Colquhoun and Dr Meehan as co-inventors, were published in June this year.
The initial work at Reading was carried out in collaboration with DuPont-Teijin Films (UK) Ltd (DTF), who are now providing additional sponsorship of the project in the form of a fully-funded PhD studentship.
The Royal Society Award will fund a scaled-up reactor system for producing the new polymer at Reading, with enhanced control of stirring rate, temperature and vacuum, and it will also fund advanced computational modelling software to help understand the structure and properties of the new polymer at the molecular level. The DTF-sponsored PhD student in Chemistry, Stephen Jones, will be building the new reactor and implementing the molecular modelling program.
The Brian Mercer Awards were established in 2001 through a bequest from the late Brian Mercer OBE FRS, himself an enthusiastic inventor and entrepreneur in the field of polymer science and engineering.