Emerging technologies within the Materials industry

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by Alistair McKinlay, Technical Analyst, Jumpstart UK

About Alistair: Alistair completed his PhD at the University of St Andrews and spent a further two years working as a Postdoctoral researcher within the University’s chemistry department. When not working, he’s a keen and competitive golfer and can regularly be found on the links of St Andrews and North Berwick. He works with clients in engineering, manufacturing, chemical industries and medical technologies, renewables and recyclables. Qualifications: PhD Chemistry

 

Recent innovation by SMEs and academia has led to several exciting new material developments with implications for a wide variety of different industries. 

There has been a real emergence of smart material recently. These are materials that can interact with different electronic or biological systems to potentially make our life easier and provide us with more information and aid. Examples include the development of smart inks for printed intelligent textiles. These novel inks have been developed that enable electronic devices to be printed directly onto fabrics, the resultant devices are flexible, unobtrusive and easy to use. This could potentially allow health monitors to be added to clothes and the generation of heat using electronic heating devices as well as LEDs for safety. In addition, smart quantum technology supersensors have been developed, which can be tailored depending on application. This controllability in 3D for pressure, force and touch sensing will enable a number of ground-breaking devices to be created. Finally, a new electrode material has been developed for use in medical devices. This bionGel being soft and flexible has superior electrical and mechanical performance and can be applied to existing devices and be customised to work with specific body tissues to significantly improve implantable bionics.

More traditional materials are still being significantly improved with the generation of eco-materials. Such as a silicastone surfacing material made from 100% recycled waste. It is able to generate aesthetically pleasing surfaces without sacrificing functionality or life expectancy. Made from ceramic glass and mineral waste materials it avoids the need for virgin materials from quarries and yet can generate beautiful looking surfaces.

Other materials have been generated due to impending bans on current industry baseline materials. Strontium chromate is one such example that will be banned from use in production by 2019. One company has spent considerable time and effort researching and developing a chromate free alternative material that can be used as a corrosion inhibitor that comparably performs and is both smart release and self-healing.

Other material advances include the development of coatings for medical devices. One company has successfully developed an endotracheal tube with an anti-bacterial polymer coating which is capable of resisting bacterial adhesion. Furthermore a fibre optic sensor has also been incorporated which enables real time detection of bacterial attachment meaning that physicians can determine device failure during use.


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Manufacturing is a vital part of the UK economy, and with so many small and medium firms contributing throughout the supply chain, across a variety of industries, it’s vital that they receive as much financial support as possible.

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Jumpstart is a leading R&D tax relief specialist, guiding companies through the complexities of submitting claims to HMRC. 

Jumpstart’s large team of technical analysts have specific scientific and technical backgrounds and years of industrial experience which have resulted in an extremely high success rate in securing R&D tax relief for their clients. Since inception 10 years ago, they have realised almost £100 million benefit for their clients. Right now, they’re submitting an average of 500 claims per year to HMRC.

For a free R&D tax credit consultation and analysis of the potential returns you might expect, contact Jumpstart on eef@jumpstartuk.co.uk or visit the website: www.jumpstartuk.co.uk.

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