Surrey NanoSystems, a spinout from The University of Surrey which has developed a tool for manufacturing carbon nanotubes, has been recognised by an awards scheme that follows ground-breaking research by UK universities and technology companies.
Surrey NanoSystems triumphed in the 'Start-up and University Collaboration' category, at The Engineer Technology and Innovation Awards, organized by The Engineer magazine.
Its award recognises research and development collaboration behind a new type of tool that can grow carbon nanotubes reliably and repeatably, in forms that are compatible with semiconductor fabrication processes - a key target market for the new company.
Andrew Lee, Editor of The Engineer, said: "The UK's universities are home to world class innovation in engineering and technology, a fact that is too often overlooked. The Engineer is delighted to recognise some of the best of these through this new awards scheme."
Gerry Thurgood, CEO of Surrey NanoSystems, added: "The NanoGrowth tool provides proven growth processes that allow nanomaterial research to be converted into commercial products. The architecture is highly modular and allows users to gain automated control over all aspects of nanomaterial fabrication, from generating the catalysts required for material growth, to fabricating the final precision structures."
The carbon nanotube 'recipes' and patented fabrication technology inside the new tool are derived from ground-breaking work at the University of Surrey's Advanced Technology Institute (ATI). Supported by funding from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), and IP Group PLC, Surrey NanoSystems has already begun to make sales to research laboratories, and is currently working with globally-recognised technology manufacturers to provide the tool in forms suitable for manufacturing commercial products.
Surrey NanoSystems' Gerry Thurgood received the award from Declan Curry, business presenter for the BBC Breakfast programme. The company won the Start-up and University Collaboration award against stiff competition. One shortlisted finalist was Lontra and Imperial College, with a radically new type of automobile engine that that is up to tens of percent more efficient than a traditional engine. Another combination, Haemair and Swansea University, has created a blood/air mass exchanger that can be used as an artificial lung, or as an external respiratory aid.
Ed Metcalfe, SEEDA's Head of Science, Technology, Entrepreneurship and Management, added: "SEEDA's funding for this project was aimed at bringing South East universities and companies together to develop new processes and materials in the new fields of nanotechnology and nanomaterials. These areas offer huge potential to improve existing applications developed by South East based companies, from sports goods to engineering applications, and from coatings to electronics, where added functionality and performance could pay great dividends on a national and international stage. We are delighted that our funding stimulated the formation of Surrey NanoSystems and congratulate them on their success in these awards."
Surrey NanoSystems is focused on providing production platforms for using carbon nanotubes and other nanowires in high technology applications, including as a replacement for the conventional metals used in the fabrication of silicon chips - which are approaching their performance limits. The concept behind Surrey NanoSystems started in 2005, as a joint venture between The University of Surrey's Advanced Technology Institute (ATI), who had developed a pioneering process for manufacturing carbon nanotubes at room temperature, and the thin film tool manufacturer CEVP. The organizations united to turn the carbon nanotube fabrication idea into a practical, commercial tool. In December 2006, IP Group provided substantial funding to create a new corporation, Surrey NanoSystems, formed with staff and IP from ATI and CEVP.