Nanotechnology researcher awarded prestigious Academy prize for early career engineering

Dr Matthew Cole, Oppenheimer Research Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics, University of Cambridge, is to receive the Royal Academy of Engineering Sir George Macfarlane Medal for his work in nanoscale materials science.

The annual award recognises a UK engineer who has demonstrated excellence in the early stage of their career. Dr Cole’s achievements have particularly focused on carbon nanotubes and their use in field emission sources, which produce high-energy electrons under an electric field. In addition to his extensively published research, Dr Cole is commended for his wider leadership which has led him to co-found the start up company Cambridge Xray Systems, and attain chartered engineering and scientist status at an exceptionally early stage of his career.

Dr Cole joined the University of Cambridge to begin his PhD in Electrical Engineering in 2008, after graduating in the top 10% of his class at the University of Oxford with an MEng in Engineering Sciences. Following completion of his PhD, Dr Cole has continued his postdoctoral studies within the University of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, publishing extensively and becoming recognised as a leading figure within the global field emission community.

As his research has concentrated more recently on the application of carbon nanotubes for the production of novel X-ray sources, Dr Cole co-founded the start-up company Cambridge Xray Systems in 2014. With funding from Innovate UK, the company develops tailored X-ray emitters using state-of-the-art nanomaterials for use in food security, border control and medical diagnostics.

Dr Cole is also recognised for his commitment to teaching and supervising in engineering, as a STEM Ambassador and Director of Studies in Engineering at both St Edmund’s College and Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge.

Dr Cole said: I am tremendously honoured to receive the Sir George Macfarlane Medal from  the Royal Academy of Engineering. This prestigious award represents one of the highest levels of recognition for a young engineer in the UK. As we enter the nano-age, I very much hope this award will inspire other early career engineers and scientists to undertake pragmatic research, particularly towards the commercial realisation of technologies that were impossible to manufacture just a decade or so ago.

Professor Bill Milne FREng, Director of the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics, said: Matthew is a truly outstanding young engineer with almost unlimited potential. His drive and commitment to applied engineering research and higher level engineering education and makes him most deserving of the award of the 2015 Macfarlane prize.

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