Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Advanced materials theme

New materials have the potential to radically transform society. The role of this theme is to provide strategic leadership to a diverse and distributed community and to work across UKRI to champion investment in materials innovation and to enable novel technologies that combat societal challenges.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

The advanced materials theme takes an overview of investment made in materials research and innovation by EPSRC, and leads on delivery of our major investment in the Henry Royce Institute for advanced materials research.

EPSRC recognises that delivering new materials critical to everyday life requires interdisciplinary approaches and the involvement of industry. Therefore, the theme works closely with colleagues across the UKRI research councils and Innovate UK, and with the government, to develop strategic opportunities.

EPSRC investment in materials research is embedded within its core capability and challenge themes. Our role as the advanced materials team is to work across these themes to identify opportunity spaces and key materials priorities.

Research areas

The key EPSRC research areas for advanced materials are:

Find out more about research supported by EPSRC.

Why we're doing it

Materials research is highly pervasive in its impact and ability to contribute to socioeconomic challenges. Materials form the basis of all products, are integral to many of the most important modern technologies and underpin a diverse range of industrial sectors with their use being key to manufacturing-based industries.

While key to so many scientific disciplines and new technologies, this embedded position in the landscape can lead to an understatement of the field’s importance in delivering against key societal challenges.

Our overarching goal is to support the development and implementation of materials for sustainable futures.

Our theme aims to achieve this by working across the whole EPSRC portfolio and with UKRI colleagues to:

  • raise the profile of materials research with key stakeholders, gaining recognition of both its importance and the benefits it provides to society
  • identify and champion key areas where investment in research, skills or infrastructure is required to capitalise on opportunities
  • secure future funding to enable the UK materials community to realise its potential, ensuring UK social and economic prosperity
  • reduce timescales of materials innovation, particularly with respect to impact and use of new materials by enhancing knowledge transfer
  • develop future generations of researchers able to operate within a multidisciplinary landscape.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Opportunities, support and resources available

Funding opportunities

You can apply for funding to support a research proposal in advanced materials at any time under any open EPSRC scheme including standard mode, programme grants and fellowships. Standard (sometimes known as ‘responsive’) funding opportunities are open to a wide range of research and approaches within EPSRC’s remit.

In line with council remit, we will support interdisciplinary proposals, but the majority of the research must be within engineering and the physical sciences.

Find all EPSRC funding opportunities.

Materials for quantum

We are collaborating with the EPSRC quantum technologies and physical sciences themes to understand the links between materials science and delivery of next generation quantum technologies.

The theme is planning a joint workshop in early 2022 to network the relevant communities and understand the opportunity spaces in materials science, with a particular interest in areas that hold potential to underpin the delivery of future quantum technologies.

UK Metamaterials Network

EPSRC supports a Metamaterials Network with an open and growing membership. The network’s aim is to build a vibrant and creative multidisciplinary community to accelerate novel and innovative metamaterials research and exploitation pathways.

You can sign up on the network’s website UK Metamaterials Network.

Talent and skills

We recognise that skills shortages affect some areas of advanced materials research, and the skills base lacks diversity. In the coming year we will be engaging with the community to identify in detail where we can work together to help address these challenges.

Postdoctoral skills survey

EPSRC’s advanced materials team are collecting the postdoctoral skill needs of universities within advanced materials research areas.

We are interested in hearing about the opportunities and challenges in these research areas to help shape our strategy direction.

Relevant departments, preferably heads of department, are kindly requested to complete our short survey (SmartSurvey).

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Henry Royce Institute

EPSRC has made a major investment in establishing the Henry Royce institute for advanced materials, which provides a range of facilities across the UK.

The Henry Royce Institute in collaboration with the Institute of Physics has brought together the academic and industrial materials research communities to explore the increasingly critical role of novel materials and processes, in order to deliver affordable, reliable green energy.

The output is a series of detailed technology roadmaps that set out how UK materials science can contribute to the UK’s low-carbon energy transition.

Who to contact

Contact the advanced materials team

Alex Broomsgrove, Head of Advanced Materials

Email: alexander.broomsgrove@epsrc.ukri.org

Jan Taylor, Senior Portfolio Manager

Email: jan.taylor@epsrc.ukri.org

Zaffie Cox, Senior Portfolio Manager

Email: zaffie.cox@epsrc.ukri.org

Last updated: 17 October 2022

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