Huge advances on the smallest scale
A £2.6 million investment in research could mean that the electronic gadgets and medical treatments seen in science fiction films could some day be a reality.
The Multidisciplinary Nanotechnology Centre (MNC) houses state-of-the-art nanotechnology and bio-nanotechnology laboratory suites, along with a newly refurbished staff area.
It was completed earlier this year and is a partnership between the School of Engineering and the Department of Physics.
Headed by Professor Steve Wilks, the centre has recently appointed four new members to its multi-disciplinary team and aims to draw on expertise from across campus; intending to break down the traditional barriers between engineering, physics, medicine, chemistry and biology.
A joint initiative with the Clinical School will examine new fields such as nano-medicine, implant technology and drug delivery. This could open up new areas of medicine and provide leaps forward in methods of treatment.
'New type of technology'
This research could eventually lead to microscopic machines sitting in the human body to monitor vital signs or deliver drugs, run by bacteria-powered fuel cells, which would dissolve harmlessly once their job was done.
It could also create new methods for 'smart' drugs to be delivered direct to precise locations within the body, said Professor Wilks.
The centre has attracted a prestigious £3 million EPSRC Portfolio Partnership, led by Professor Rhodri Williams of the School of Engineering, to conduct research in complex fluids and complex flows over the next five years.
Nanotechnology is the smallest scale at which engineering can currently take place and future possibilities can only be guessed at.
'It's just a completely new type of technology,' says Professor Wilks.
The MNC is due to be officially opened in May 2005 by the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King.