A new Scottish research project has been awarded funding from the Royal Society to improve existing technology with benefits for health and safety in industry, healthcare and the COVID-19 pandemic.
University of the West of Scotland’s (UWS) Institute of Thin Films, Sensors and Imaging and Novosound Ltd will work together to improve the efficiency of ultrasonic sensors and imaging devices.
Dr Carlos García Nuñez, a lecturer in physics at UWS, has been awarded almost £25,000 in funding through the Royal Society’s Short Industry Fellowship scheme to undertake the project alongside award-winning sensors company Novosound.
The Royal Society Short Industry Fellow, Dr García Nuñez said: “The Royal Society’s Short Industry Fellowship brings academia and industry together to improve knowledge and work on solutions to current, real-world problems.
“I am thrilled to have been awarded the Fellowship, and look forward to working with Novosound on this exciting project.”
Novosound Ltd, UWS’s first spin-out company, has rapidly revolutionised ultrasound technology, which has remained largely unchanged for 40 years, by replacing conventional sensor materials with a flexible piezoelectric thin-film material. This has resulted in significant cost reduction and improved flexibility, providing 3D ultrasonic imaging and sensing capabilities for applications in oil and gas, aerospace, energy and many more.
Dr García Nuñez’s research will seek to further improve the capabilities of the device, utilising UWS-patented microwave plasma-assisted sputter deposition processes, developed at the University’s Institute of Thin Films, Sensors and Imaging, enhancing the piezoelectric thin films’ acoustic properties utilised in the Novosound transducers.
“Ultrasonic transducers can be used in a range of different ways, and recently, we have seen increased interest in their application, especially in terms of non-destructive testing. By using microwave plasma-assisted sputter deposition, the project seeks to improve the performance of the Novosound technology, expanding use for societal benefit.”
Dr Carlos García Nuñez
Professor Dave Hughes, founder of Novosound and visiting professor at UWS’s Institute of Thin Films, Sensors and Imaging, commented: “As the first-spin out company to emerge from UWS, I am looking forward to revisiting Novosound’s research and development roots to work with Dr García Nuñez on this exciting project.
“The prestigious Royal Society Short Industry Fellowship allows Novosound and UWS to build on our existing, world-class, research to enable advancements and improved performance of Novosound’s product offering.”
Novosound’s current products have a broad range of applications, including non-destructive testing and monitoring in industry, medical imaging, and wearables. In the current COVID-19 pandemic, Novosound has also developed a lung ultrasound system for monitoring of acute respiratory failure.
The six-month project between UWS and Novosound will make use of both industry facilities and the University’s Institute of Thin Films, Sensors and Imaging laboratory, which launched earlier this year.
The £12 million lab, recognised a centre of excellence in the UK, will help the Institute continue to build on its successes, which, over the past five years, has won £7 million worth of external research and enterprise grants, as well as securing five patents and creating a new masters programme in advanced thin films technology.
Professor Des Gibson, Director of the Institute of Thin Films, Sensors and Imaging at UWS, said: “At UWS, we are committed to impactful, relevant research, and Dr García Nuñez’s collaboration with Novosound is a fantastic example of how we are working with industry to achieve this. The Royal Society Short Industry Fellowship enables dynamic engagement between universities and businesses to make a real impact – I look forward to seeing the outcome of this project.”