Our research on the physiological effects of the electromagnetic fields
generated in magnetic
resonance imaging (MRI) has been used by: (i) the International Commission
Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) in
limits and action values in their published regulatory guidelines; (ii)
the EU Commission as part of
the evidential basis in their decision to derogate MRI from the scope of
the Physical Agents
Directive 2004/40/EC. These decisions have enabled the continued operation
of MR scanners
across Europe, safeguarding the access to MRI for 500 million people. The
arising from the manufacture of MRI equipment were also secured. Our work
has thus resulted in
impact on public policy, the economy and healthcare.
UCL's discoveries of the existence of magnetic flux ropes in the solar
atmosphere and their link to sunquake generation have stimulated public
interest in science and led to a large volume of engagement activities.
Since 2008, there has been a high demand for public and schools talks
related to research conducted by staff within the Department of Space and
Climate Physics — also known as the Mullard Space Science Laboratory
(MSSL) — with attendees being inspired and gaining increased knowledge.
Teaching resources and talks at teacher training events have enabled
teachers to include MSSL research in inspirational science lessons.
Sustained and on-going relationships have been developed with local
schools, adult education groups, the media and the local community; for
example, at the 2009 MSSL open day visitors from the local area benefited
from raised awareness and improved knowledge about space science.
Research at the University of Cambridge, Department of Physics on
sensitive techniques for measurements of magnetic and electrical
properties of materials led to the selection of Dr Michael Sutherland as
an expert witness in a series of major police investigations involving
fraudulent bomb detecting equipment. Scientific evidence Dr Sutherland
presented in court was key in securing guilty verdicts, leading to the
breakup in 2013 of several international fraud rings with combined revenue
in excess of £70 million. This criminal activity had caused significant
damage to the reputation of the UK in Iraq and elsewhere.
A device developed for spintronics research at the University of Oxford
has been adapted as the basis for robust, high-performance position or
composition sensors to detect many different materials including metals,
plastics, ceramics and fluids. These sensors are capable of making
contactless measurements in very hostile environments. A spin-out company
was formed in 2004 to exploit and apply this technology to a wide range of
technical and engineering problems and has achieved over £2.5m revenue.
These sensors form the key elements of products that have been
successfully deployed in automotive and other transport applications.
Benefits to end users include ease of use, speed and the cost savings.
Groundbreaking UCL research and development of magnetic nanoparticles for
biomedical applications led to the introduction in 2012 of the world's
first licensed nanoparticulate injectable medical device, the Sienna+
tracer, and its associated detection system, the SentiMag. A UCL spinout
company, Endomagnetics Ltd., has introduced this new technology to better
diagnose and treat cancer without the need for invasive surgery. The
system uses magnetic materials, rather than radioisotopes, to locate the
sentinel lymph nodes that are the key indicators of the spread of cancer
away from the primary tumour site. As well as improving patient outcomes,
the system considerably improves hospital workflow and efficiency since,
unlike radioisotopes, the injectable magnetic tracer (Sienna+) is readily
available and requires no special handling
Heat capacity is the measurable physical quantity that specifies the
amount of heat required to change the temperature of an object or body by
a given amount and is an important quantity to establish in any
application that requires knowledge of the thermal response of a material.
It is quite usual in the development of new materials that the volume of
material available in single crystalline form is limited, and the ability
to measure small samples sensitively has particular importance for this
reason. We claim a dominant influence on the design of an ultrasensitive
heat capacity microcalorimeter that is now sold by the UK company
Cryogenic Ltd as a heat capacity option for their cryogenic measurement
systems. The microcalorimeter makes it possible to measure ultra-small
samples, particularly magnetic samples that are invisible to other
commercial probes. Research was carried out within Imperial's Physics
Department in 2003-04 to develop the instrumentation; the design was
published in 2005 after which it transferred to UK company Cryogenic Ltd.
In the past three years the approximate total sales of the heat capacity
option at Cryogenics amount to £500K, as a valuable component of a
physical properties measurement system with a total sale value in the
region of £2M [section 5, source E].
XMaS is a dedicated materials science beamline at the European
Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). It develops and disseminates novel
instrumentation and sample environments that allow new experiments which
support emerging technologies. By commercialising the intellectual
property through licenses to companies economic impact is derived
directly. Further economic impact is facilitated through knowledge
transfer by trained people and expertise in new processes, which enhances
the capability, capacity and efficiency of other central facilities.
Public interest and awareness are engendered through individual research
projects being highlighted in the media and through people's skills and
experience being utilised in a broad range of sectors.
Theoretical and computational methods for optimising the design of
gradient and shim coils with
arbitrary shapes and topologies were developed in collaboration with
Magnex Scientific as part of a
CASE award (2004-07). The resulting software was licenced to Agilent (who
now own Magnex
Scientific), for whom it has opened up new market opportunities in the
supply of novel magnetic
resonance imaging systems, leading to £3.4M sales since 2009. The software
has also been used
by Paramed Medical Systems to improve their `open' magnetic resonance
imaging systems, which
are optimised for orthopaedic imaging, allow vertical subject posture, and
treatment, as well as offering a better patient experience. Our work has
thus resulted in impact in
the economy and healthcare.
Since 2009 the read heads of all hard disks have used a technology based
on magnesium oxide (MgO). The development of this technology can be partly
attributed to a 2001 publication [3.1] co-authored by Dr Andrey Umerski of
The Open University, which concluded that a system based on MgO would lead
to a huge increase in magnetoresistance, a physical property that
determines the efficiency of hard disk read heads.
In 2004 these theoretical predictions were confirmed experimentally; by
2008 the new type of read head based on MgO was manufactured commercially,
leading to significant increases in storage capacity, from GBs to TBs.