The OU has been awarded a grant for advances in mathematics which could lead to smart materials and new applications including bespoke orthopaedic implants.
Led by Uwe Grimm, OU Professor of Mathematics, the Novel superior materials based on aperiodic tilings project, which will begin in May 2021 and run until April 2023, has been awarded a £200,000 New Horizons grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
The New Horizons grants aim to help grow the portfolio of new transformative research ideas in EPSRC Mathematical Sciences and Physical Sciences research areas, feeding the future research landscape.
Professor Grimm will work with colleagues from the OU’s School of Engineering & Innovation to apply novel structures which are inspired by mathematics (aperiodic tilings) and by nature (quasicrystals) to applications in cellular materials through a process called Additive Manufacturing, the industrial production name for 3D printing, a computer controlled process that creates three dimensional objects by depositing materials, usually in layers.
Additive Manufacturing makes it possible to produce purpose-made structures, including smart materials, cheaply and reliably, with potentially huge impact across a vast area of applications, such as bespoke orthopaedic implants, one of a kind space components and aerospace components produced from valuable raw materials.
Commenting on this success, Professor Grimm said:
"I am delighted to be successful in this pilot scheme specifically aimed at blue sky research exploring fundamentally new ideas. For a mathematician, it is exciting to see mathematical constructs turned into real structures and to be able to explore their properties, both by simulation and by experiments. Our research is exploratory, focussing on assessing and quantifying the advantage of these novel structures for potential applications."