YMC Future Materials Conference
The conference, held on 17 December, was the final event in the IOM3 150th Anniversary calendar and what better way to celebrate 150 years of the Institute, than to look to the future of materials research in the UK. The conference, organised by the Younger Members’ Committee (YMC), was intended to be a forum for early career materials, minerals and mining scientists and engineers from the UK to present their research on the materials they are developing. The aim was to offer delegates the chance to practice presentation skills, initiate collaboration between research groups and to encourage links between industry and academia. It was also a way of helping researchers and industry workers alike to see how their work fits into the bigger picture of future materials, minerals and mining research and technology.
There were three keynote talks during the day given by experienced members of the materials science community with the hope of inspiring and educating the delegates as they begin their careers in either academia or industry. The first keynote talk was given by Dr Tim Stevenson from Ionix Advanced Technologies who spoke about the things to consider when taking a material that has been researched in an academic setting into industry and the unexpected problems that can arise during this process. From beaker to business, was an excellent tale of the trials and tribulations faced when attempting to scale up batch sizes from lab-based research, to reproducibly manufacturing materials to satisfy a variety of customer requirements that potentially differ from the properties and sample dimensions that were developed in the university laboratory setting. Everything from securing resources and intellectual property to the difficulties of setting up IT systems for a new business, Dr Stevenson certainly gave any aspiring future business owners lots to consider and prepare for.
The second keynote talk was on the timeline of the development of diamond by Element Six Senior Scientist, Dr Rachael Ambury. Ambury’s talk greatly demonstrated how a material can be so popular and appreciated in an everyday commercial setting, for example in jewellery, but can also have great uses in an industrial environment such as abrasive and machining applications. The talk came full circle as she closed by explaining that potential industrial developments in chemical vapour deposition techniques could improve the development of lab-grown diamonds, which could lead to a shift in the supply of commercial diamonds to meet customer demand for different shapes and colour, thus linking industrial and commercial markets.
The third keynote talk was a joint effort by Drs Ilija Rašović and Chris Hamlett, both from the University of Birmingham. Rašović spoke about the importance of working in science communication and the significance of accurate communication of scientific information in the media particularly in the current political climate. Rašović also spoke about the innate effectiveness of materials scientists in communicating scientific information due to their unique ability to work across scientific disciplines. This was followed by a talk from Dr Hamlett who works in outreach who encouraged the conference delegates to get involved, wherever they are based around the UK to help enthuse the next generation of materials scientists.
The rest of the day was filled with presentations from delegates from across the UK and included a wide variety of topics including piezoelectric materials and other functional ceramics, new processing methods such as cold sintering, characterisation techniques such as PDF, anticorrosion performance of organic coatings, steels used in aerospace technology, graphene nanoplatelet reinforced elastomers, neuromorphic properties in PEDOT:PSS devices and ligament tissue constructs - to name a few! The youngest speaker of the day was Oliver Newcombe, a student from Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, presenting a lunchtime science club project about electrospun cellulose fibres. His presentation was so confident that recommendations were made to Oliver for him to enter this year’s upcoming Young Person’s Lecture Competition. Prizes were on offer at the end of the conference for the best poster and best presentation. These were awarded to Nathan Sutemire from the University of Surrey for his poster on maximising yields of silicon carbide monofilaments for use in metal matrix composites, and to Matthew Wadge from the University of Nottingham for his presentation on the development of bone-forming and antibacterial titanate structures for improved implant surfaces. Congratulations to both.
The inaugural Future Materials Conference at Leeds was a resounding success, and was an inspiring day to see such an exciting future unfolding for materials, mining and minerals research being carried out across the UK.
Conference Chair & PhD student, University of Leeds