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1,173 Projects

  • UK Research and Innovation
  • UKRI|EPSRC
  • 2016

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/K003445/1
    Funder Contribution: 100,347 GBP

    The transformation of communication and computing technologies in terms of accessibility, ubiquity, mobility and coverage, has enabled new opportunities for personalised on-demand communication (e.g. Facebook, Twitter). This is in addition to new market places for e-commerce and e-businesses, personalised platforms for e-governments and a vast range of new user-centric applications and services. The number of mobile apps (iPhone, Android) taking advantage of the cloud infrastructure has risen beyond several hundred thousand, reshaping the way we communicate and socialise. This shift in communication technology and services has also led to the emergence of unforeseen types of security and privacy threats with social, economic and political incentives, resulting in major research challenges in terms of the protection and security of information assets in storage and transmission. Therefore, Digital Security is vital in ensuring the UK is a safe place to do business, can act as a source of competitive advantage for foreign direct investment and provide a platform for SMEs and large corporations alike to develop products that use or supply this security market. Recent years have seen a massive growth in malware, fuelled by the evolution of the Internet and the migration from malware written by hobbyists to professionally devised malware developed by rogue corporations and organized criminals, primarily targeted for financial or political gain. In 2010, Symantec identified more than 240 million new malicious programs; albeit that many of these are variants of existing malware. Another report, suggests that the actual malware family count is between 1,000 and 3,000. The detection of malware is a major and ongoing problem. The battle against malware has escalated over the past decade as malware has evolved from simple programs that had little ability to evade detection, the main objective of which was to cause havoc, to more complex programs that target profit and deploy sophisticated evasion techniques. The focus of the NIMBUS network of researchers is to act as a catalyst to develop a balanced programme of both blue skies research and near term applied research that will assist in the fight against cyber crime in the UK. Malware related cyber threats are global in nature, hence it is essential that an international approach is taken to address these issues. Only a global network of centers of excellence is expected to provide the essential breadth and depth of know-how and the necessary critical mass of specialist competencies for resolving major Cyber Security challenges. NIMBUS will act as the UK's interface to international engagements with research networks in Europe, US and Asia.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/K023349/1
    Funder Contribution: 1,780,200 GBP

    This proposal brings together a critical mass of scientists from the Universities of Cardiff, Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester and clinicians from the Christie, Lancaster and Liverpool NHS Hospital Trusts with the complementary experience and expertise to advance the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of cervical, oesophageal and prostate cancers. Cervical and prostate cancer are very common and the incidence of oesophageal is rising rapidly. There are cytology, biopsy and endoscopy techniques for extracting tissue from individuals who are at risk of developing these diseases. However the analysis of tissue by the standard techniques is problematic and subjective. There is clearly a national and international need to develop more accurate diagnostics for these diseases and that is a primary aim of this proposal. Experiments will be conducted on specimens from all three diseases using four different infrared based techniques which have complementary strengths and weaknesses: hyperspectral imaging, Raman spectroscopy, a new instrument to be developed by combining atomic force microscopy with infrared spectroscopy and a scanning near field microscope recently installed on the free electron laser on the ALICE accelerator at Daresbury. The latter instrument has recently been shown to have considerable potential for the study of oesophageal cancer yielding images which show the chemical composition with unprecedented spatial resolution (0.1 microns) while hyperspectral imaging and Raman spectroscopy have been shown by members of the team to provide high resolution spectra that provide insight into the nature of cervical and prostate cancers. The new instrument will be installed on the free electron laser at Daresbury and will yield images on the nanoscale. This combination of techniques will allow the team to probe the physical and chemical structure of these three cancers with unprecedented accuracy and this should reveal important information about their character and the chemical processes that underlie their malignant behavior. The results of the research will be of interest to the study of cancer generally particularly if it reveals feature common to all three cancers. The infrared techniques have considerable medical potential and to differing extents are on the verge of finding practical applications. Newer terahertz techniques also have significant potential in this field and may be cheaper to implement. Unfortunately the development of cheap portable terahertz diagnositic instruments is being impeded by the weakness of existing sources of terahertz radiation. By exploiting the terahertz radiation from the ALICE accelerator, which is seven orders of magnitude more intense that conventional sources, the team will advance the design of two different terahertz instruments and assess their performance against the more developed infrared techniques in cancer diagnosis. However before any of these techniques can be used by medical professionals it is essential that their strengths and limitations of are fully understood. This is one of the objectives of the proposal and it will be realised by comparing the results of each technique in studies of specimens from the three cancers that are the primary focus of the research. This will be accompanied by developing data basis and algorithms for the automated analysis of spectral and imaging data thus removing subjectivity from the diagnostic procedure. Finally the team will explore a new approach to monitoring the interactions between pathogens, pharmaceuticals and relevant cells or tissues at the cellular and subcellular level using the instruments deployed on the free electron laser at Daresbury together with Raman microscopy. If this is successful, it will be important in the longer term in developing new treatments for cancer and other diseases.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/J010790/1
    Funder Contribution: 613,852 GBP

    String theory is believed to be a theory capable of describing all the known forces of nature, and provides a solution to the venerable problem of finding a theory of gravity consistent with quantum mechanics. To a first approximation, the world we observe corresponds to a vacuum of this theory. String theory admits many of these vacuum states and the class that is most likely to describe the observed world are the so-called `heterotic vacua'. Analysing these vacua requires the application of sophisticated tools drawn from mathematics, particularly from algebraic geometry. If history is any guide, the synthesis of these mathematical tools with observations drawn from physics will lead not only to significant progress in physics, but also important advances in mathematics. An example of such a major insight in mathematics, that arose from string theory, is mirror symmetry. This is the observation that within in a restricted class of string vacua, these arise in `mirror pairs'. This has the consequence that certain mathematical quantities, which are both important and otherwise mysterious, can be calculated in a straightforward manner. The class of heterotic vacua, of interest here, are a wider class of vacua, and an important question is to what extent mirror symmetry generalises and how it acts on this wider class. In a more precise description, the space of heterotic vacua is the parameter space of pairs (X,V) where X is a Calabi-Yau manifold and V is a stable holomorphic vector bundle on X. This space is a major object of study in algebra and geometry. String theory tells us that it is subject to quantum corrections. To understand the nature of these corrections is the key research problem in this proposal and any advance in our understanding will have a important impact in both mathematics and physics. By now it is widely understood that string theory and geometry are intimately related with much to be learned from each other, yet this relationship is relatively unexplored in the heterotic string. This fact, together with recent developments that indicate that longstanding problems have recently become tractable, means that the time is right to revisit the geometry of heterotic vacua.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/J501785/1
    Funder Contribution: 69,121 GBP

    Doctoral Training Partnerships: a range of postgraduate training is funded by the Research Councils. For information on current funding routes, see the common terminology at https://www.ukri.org/apply-for-funding/how-we-fund-studentships/. Training grants may be to one organisation or to a consortia of research organisations. This portal will show the lead organisation only.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/J019844/1
    Funder Contribution: 263,385 GBP

    Organic molecular monolayers at surfaces often constitute the central working component in nanotechnologies such as sensors, molecular electronics, smart coatings, organic solar cells, catalysts, medical devices, etc. A central challenge in the field is to achieve controlled creation of desired 2D molecular architectures at surfaces. Within this context, the past decade has witnessed a real and significant step-change in the 'bottom-up' self-organisation of 2D molecular assemblies at surfaces. The enormous variety and abundance of molecular structures formed via self-oeganisation has now critically tipped the argument strongly in favour of a 'bottom-up' construction strategy, which harnesses two powerful attributes of nanometer-precision (inaccessible to top-down methods) and highly parallel fabrication (impossible with atomic/molecular manipulation). Thus, bottom-up molecular assembly at surfaces holds the real possibility of becoming a dominating synthesis protocol in 21st century nanotechnologies Uniquely, the scope and versatility of these molecular architectures at 2D surfaces have been directly captured at the nanoscale via imaging with scanning probe microscopies and advanced surface spectroscopies. At present, however, the field is largely restricted to a 'make and see' approach and there is scarce understanding of any of the parameters that ultimately control molecular surface assembly. For example: (1) molecular assemblies at surfaces show highly polymorphic behaviour, and a priori control of assembly is practically non-existent; (2) little is understood of the influence and balance of the many interactions that drive molecular recognition and assembly (molecule-molecule interactions including dispersion, directional H-bonding and strong electrostatic and covalent interactions); (3) the role of surface-molecule interactions is largely uncharted even though they play a significant role in the diffusion of molecules and their subsequent assembly; (4), there is ample evidence that the kinetics of self-assembly is the major factor in determining the final structure, often driving polymorphic behaviour and leading to widely varied outcomes, depending on the conditions of formation; (5) a gamut of additional surface phenomena also also influence assembly e.g. chemical reactions between molecules, thermally activated internal degrees of freedom of molecules, surface reconstructions and co-assembly via coordinating surface atoms. The main objective of this project is to advance from experimental phenomena-reporting to knowledge-based design, and its central goal is to identify the role played by thermodynamic, entropic, kinetic and chemical factors in dictating molecular organisation at surfaces under given experimental conditions. To address this challenge requires a two-pronged approach in which ambitious and comprehensive theory development is undertaken alongside powerful imaging and spectroscopic tools applied to the same systems. This synergy of experiment and theory is absolutely essential to develop a fundamental understanding, which would enable a roadmap for controlled and engineered self-assembly at surfaces to be proposed that would, ultimately, allow one to 'dial up' a required structure at will. Four important and qualitatively different classes of assembly at surfaces will be studied: Molecular Self-Assembly; Hierarchical Self-Assembly; Metal-Organic Self Assembly; and, on-surface Covalent Assembly.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/J009733/1
    Funder Contribution: 406,787 GBP

    The peculiar behaviour of liquid and supercooled water has been baffling science for at least 236 years and is still seen as a major challenge facing chemistry today (Whitesides & Deutch, Nature 469, 21 (2011)). It was suggested that such strange behaviour might be caused by thermodynamic transitions, possibly even a second critical point. This second critical point would terminate a coexistence line between low- and high-density amorphous phases of water. Unfortunately, this second critical point (if it exists) and the associated polyamorphic liquid-liquid transition is difficult to study as it is thought to lie below the homogeneous nucleation temperature in a region known as "no man's land" (Angell, Science 319, 582 (2008)). In recent preliminary femtosecond optical Kerr-effect spectroscopy experiments, we have shown that water in concentrated eutectic solutions forms nanometre scale pools in which it retains many if not most of its bulk liquid characteristics. Most importantly, such solutions can be cooled to below 200 K without crystallisation (typically forming a glass at lower temperatures) allowing one to explore "no man's land" in detail for the first time. Preliminary experiments combining femtosecond spectroscopy with NMR diffusion measurements have shown that water in these pools undergoes a liquid-liquid transition as predicted for bulk water. Hence, it is proposed to use such nanopools as nanometre scale laboratories for the study of liquid and glassy water. A wide-ranging international collaboration has been set up to be able to study different critical aspects of the structure and dynamics of water. This includes cryogenic viscosity measurements, large dynamic-range (femtosecond to millisecond) optical Kerr-effect experiments, pulsed field gradient NMR, dielectric relaxation spectroscopy, terahertz time-domain spectroscopy, infrared pump-probe spectroscopy, and two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy. To ensure maximum impact of the experimental work, it is critical to have strong ties with experts in the theory and simulation of water and its thermodynamic behaviour. We have arranged collaboration with two international theory groups covering different aspects of the proposed work. Although the proposed research is relatively fundamental in nature, it will have impact as described in more detail elsewhere. The research addresses EPSRC priorities in nanoscience (supramolecular structures in liquids), energy (proton transport and liquid structuring in electrolytes for batteries and fuel cells), life sciences (the role of water in and on biomolecules), and the chemistry-chemical engineering interface (the role of the structuring of water in crystal nucleation). Our strong links with theory collaborators will ensure that fundamental insights will indeed propagate to the 'users' of such information. The close working relationship between the PI and CI has made Glasgow a centre of excellence in advanced femtosecond spectroscopy. This project exploits this expertise and international collaborations to immerse PDRAs and PGRSs in internationally leading research using state-of-the-art previously funded equipment.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/K004913/1
    Funder Contribution: 313,049 GBP

    For over 50 years, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) has demonstrated itself as an invaluable technique in the study of filled electronic states of solids, as well helping to determine the nature of interactions between solid surfaces and molecular species. Unfortunately there is one main drawback in the technique, that being that typical XPS measurements are performed in ultra high vacuum (UHV) conditions (10-10 mbar), due to the need of minimising the chances of unfavourable collisions occurring before the excited photoelectrons reach the energy analyser. Due to this restraint, studying the surfaces of technologically important materials occurs at a pressure many orders of magnitude lower than the operational conditions of the systems themselves (1-50 bar). Bridging this so-called "Pressure Gap" has remained a significant technological challenge. Very recent developments in electron energy analyser and sample holder design have for the first time allowed photoelectron spectroscopic measurements to be performed in ambient pressures of up to 25 mbar. The opportunity to study "real" surfaces in-situ and in-operando is a step change in the field of photoelectron spectroscopy, and opens a new and vital chapter in the area of surface science. The ambient pressure photoelectron spectroscopy (APPES) system is a state-of-the-art laboratory-based instrument with capabilities of performing high-energy resolution, low signal-to-noise photoemission measurements in up to 25 mbar ambient pressure with a number of different gases (O2, N2, H2, ethylene, acetylene). The instrument is equipped with a monochromated x-ray source and a high transmission, differentially pumped electron energy analyser. The system is fitted with an in-situ sample cell, which can provide a temperature range of 80 - 1100 K in the ambient atmospheres, permitting in-operando measurements. This specially designed modular in-situ cell, which is fully retractable from the analysis chamber, also allows standard UHV XPS comparative measurements to be performed with ease. The APPES instrument based at the Department of Materials, Imperial College London will be highly multidisciplinary, covering five broad research themes (i) Energy; (ii) Catalysis; (iii) Electronic Materials; (iv) Biomaterials; (v) Environmental and Heritage Science. The instrument, while hosted at Imperial is engaged in highly collaborative research at a regional, national (including the Diamond Light Source) and international level, with access arrangements also provided through coordination the National XPS Facility (NEXUS) at the University of Newcastle. This new approach to providing wide- reaching access will allow the APPES technique to be fully exploited and generate world-leading cutting edge scientific output.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/K006010/1
    Funder Contribution: 39,395 GBP

    This proposal addresses the challenge "How do we make better security decisions?". Specifically we propose to develop new approaches to decision support based on mathematical game theory. Our work will support professionals who are designing secure systems and also those charged with determining if systems have an appropriate level of security -- in particular, systems administrators. We will develop techniques to support human decision making and techniques which enable well-founded security design decisions to be made. We recognise that the emerging trend away from corporate IT systems towards a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) culture will bring new challenges and changes to the role of systems administrator. However, even in this brave new world, companies will continue to have core assets such as the network infrastructure and the corporate database which will need the same kind of protection. It is certainly to be expected that some of the attacks will now originate from inside the corporate firewall rather than from outside. Our team will include researchers from the Imperial College Business School who will help us to ensure that our models are properly reflecting these new threats. Whilst others have used game theoretic approaches to answer these questions, much of the previous work has been more or less ad hoc. As such the resulting security decisions may be based on unsound principles. In particular, it is common to use abstractions without giving much consideration to the relationship between properties of the abstract model and the real system. We will develop a new game theoretic framework which enables a precise analysis of these relationships and hence provides a more robust decision support tool.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/K011693/1
    Funder Contribution: 300,568 GBP

    It is reported that the total energy consumed by the ICT infrastructure of wireless and wired networks takes up over 3 percent of the worldwide electric energy consumption that generated 2 percent of the worldwide CO2 emissions nowadays. It is predicted that in the future a major portion of expanding traffic volumes will be in wireless side. Furthermore, future wireless network systems (e.g., 4G/B4G) are increasingly demanded as broadband and high-speed tailored to support reliable Quality of Service (QoS) for numerous multimedia applications. With explosive growth of high-rate multimedia applications (e.g. HDTV and 3DTV), more and more energy will be consumed in wireless networks to meet the QoS requirements. Specifically, it is predicted that footprint of mobile wireless communications could almost triple from 2007 to 2020 corresponding to more than one-third of the present annual emissions of the whole UK. Therefore, energy-efficient green wireless communications are paid increasing attention given the limited energy resources and environment-friendly transmission requirements globally. The aim of this project is to improve the joint spectrum and energy efficiency of future wireless network systems using cognitive radio technology along with innovative game-theoretic resource scheduling methods, efficient cross-layer designs and contemporary clinical findings. We plan to consider the health and environmental concerns to introduce power-efficient resource scheduling designs that intelligently exploit the available wireless resources in next-generation systems. Our efforts will leverage applications of cognitive radio techniques to situational awareness of the communications system with adaptive power control and dynamic spectrum allocation. This project will underpin the UK green communication technology by designing environment-friendly joint power and spectrum efficient wireless communication systems.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/J020915/1
    Funder Contribution: 583,832 GBP

    Argumentation provides a powerful mechanism for dealing with incomplete, possibly inconsistent information and for the resolution of conflicts and differences of opinion amongst different parties. Further, it is useful for justifying outcomes. Thus, argumentation can support several aspects of decision-making, either by individual entities performing critical thinking (needing to evaluate pros and cons of conflicting decisions) or by multiple entities dialectically engaged to come to mutually agreeable decisions (needing to assess the validity of information the entities become aware of and resolve conflicts), especially when decisions need to be transparently justified (e.g. in medicine). Because of its potential to support decision-making when transparently justifying decisions is essential, the use of argumentation has been considered in a number of settings, including medicine, law, e-procurement, e-business and design rationale in engineering. Potential users of existing argumentation-based decision-making methods are empowered by transparent methods, afforded by argumentation, but lack either means of formal evaluation sanctioning decisions as (individually or collectively) rational or a computational framework for supporting automation. The combination of these three features (transparency, rationality and computational tools for automation) is essential for argumentation-based decision-making to have a fruitful impact on applications. Indeed, for example, a medical practitioner would not find a "black-box" recommended decision useful, but he/she would also not trust a fully transparent, dialectically justified decision unless he/she were sure that this is the best one (rational). In addition, the plethora of information doctors need to take into account nowadays to make decisions requires automated support. TRaDAr aims at providing methods and prototype systems for various kinds of argumentation-based (individual and collaborative) decision-making that generate automatically transparent, rational decisions, while developing case studies in smart electricity and e-health to inform and validate methods and systems. In this context, TRaDAr's technical objectives are: (O1) to provide novel argumentation-based formulations of decision problems for individual and collaborative decision-making; (O2) to study formal properties of the formulations at (O1), sanctioning the rationality of decisions; (O3) to provide real-world case studies in smart electricity and e-health for (individual and collaborative) decision-making, using the formulations at (O1) and demonstrating the importance of the properties at (O2) as well as the transparent nature of argumentation-based decision-making; (O4) to define provably correct algorithms for the formulations at (O1), supporting rational and transparent (individual and collaborative) decision-making; (O5) to implement prototype systems incorporating the computational methods at (O4), and use these systems to demonstrate the methodology at (O1-O2) for the case studies at (O3). The project intends to develop novel techniques within an existing framework of computational argumentation, termed assumption-based argumentation, towards the achievements of these objectives, and adapting notions and techniques from classical (quantitative) decision theory and mechanism design in economics. The envisaged TRaDAr's methodology and systems will contribute to a sustainable society supported by the digital economy, and in particular they will support people in making informed choices. The project will focus on demonstrating the proposed techniques in specific case studies (smart electricity and e-health for breast cancer) in two chosen application areas (digital economy and e-health), but its outcomes could be far-reaching into other case studies (e.g. in other areas of medicine) as well as other sectors (e.g. in engineering, for supporting decisions on design choices).

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/K003445/1
    Funder Contribution: 100,347 GBP

    The transformation of communication and computing technologies in terms of accessibility, ubiquity, mobility and coverage, has enabled new opportunities for personalised on-demand communication (e.g. Facebook, Twitter). This is in addition to new market places for e-commerce and e-businesses, personalised platforms for e-governments and a vast range of new user-centric applications and services. The number of mobile apps (iPhone, Android) taking advantage of the cloud infrastructure has risen beyond several hundred thousand, reshaping the way we communicate and socialise. This shift in communication technology and services has also led to the emergence of unforeseen types of security and privacy threats with social, economic and political incentives, resulting in major research challenges in terms of the protection and security of information assets in storage and transmission. Therefore, Digital Security is vital in ensuring the UK is a safe place to do business, can act as a source of competitive advantage for foreign direct investment and provide a platform for SMEs and large corporations alike to develop products that use or supply this security market. Recent years have seen a massive growth in malware, fuelled by the evolution of the Internet and the migration from malware written by hobbyists to professionally devised malware developed by rogue corporations and organized criminals, primarily targeted for financial or political gain. In 2010, Symantec identified more than 240 million new malicious programs; albeit that many of these are variants of existing malware. Another report, suggests that the actual malware family count is between 1,000 and 3,000. The detection of malware is a major and ongoing problem. The battle against malware has escalated over the past decade as malware has evolved from simple programs that had little ability to evade detection, the main objective of which was to cause havoc, to more complex programs that target profit and deploy sophisticated evasion techniques. The focus of the NIMBUS network of researchers is to act as a catalyst to develop a balanced programme of both blue skies research and near term applied research that will assist in the fight against cyber crime in the UK. Malware related cyber threats are global in nature, hence it is essential that an international approach is taken to address these issues. Only a global network of centers of excellence is expected to provide the essential breadth and depth of know-how and the necessary critical mass of specialist competencies for resolving major Cyber Security challenges. NIMBUS will act as the UK's interface to international engagements with research networks in Europe, US and Asia.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/K023349/1
    Funder Contribution: 1,780,200 GBP

    This proposal brings together a critical mass of scientists from the Universities of Cardiff, Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester and clinicians from the Christie, Lancaster and Liverpool NHS Hospital Trusts with the complementary experience and expertise to advance the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of cervical, oesophageal and prostate cancers. Cervical and prostate cancer are very common and the incidence of oesophageal is rising rapidly. There are cytology, biopsy and endoscopy techniques for extracting tissue from individuals who are at risk of developing these diseases. However the analysis of tissue by the standard techniques is problematic and subjective. There is clearly a national and international need to develop more accurate diagnostics for these diseases and that is a primary aim of this proposal. Experiments will be conducted on specimens from all three diseases using four different infrared based techniques which have complementary strengths and weaknesses: hyperspectral imaging, Raman spectroscopy, a new instrument to be developed by combining atomic force microscopy with infrared spectroscopy and a scanning near field microscope recently installed on the free electron laser on the ALICE accelerator at Daresbury. The latter instrument has recently been shown to have considerable potential for the study of oesophageal cancer yielding images which show the chemical composition with unprecedented spatial resolution (0.1 microns) while hyperspectral imaging and Raman spectroscopy have been shown by members of the team to provide high resolution spectra that provide insight into the nature of cervical and prostate cancers. The new instrument will be installed on the free electron laser at Daresbury and will yield images on the nanoscale. This combination of techniques will allow the team to probe the physical and chemical structure of these three cancers with unprecedented accuracy and this should reveal important information about their character and the chemical processes that underlie their malignant behavior. The results of the research will be of interest to the study of cancer generally particularly if it reveals feature common to all three cancers. The infrared techniques have considerable medical potential and to differing extents are on the verge of finding practical applications. Newer terahertz techniques also have significant potential in this field and may be cheaper to implement. Unfortunately the development of cheap portable terahertz diagnositic instruments is being impeded by the weakness of existing sources of terahertz radiation. By exploiting the terahertz radiation from the ALICE accelerator, which is seven orders of magnitude more intense that conventional sources, the team will advance the design of two different terahertz instruments and assess their performance against the more developed infrared techniques in cancer diagnosis. However before any of these techniques can be used by medical professionals it is essential that their strengths and limitations of are fully understood. This is one of the objectives of the proposal and it will be realised by comparing the results of each technique in studies of specimens from the three cancers that are the primary focus of the research. This will be accompanied by developing data basis and algorithms for the automated analysis of spectral and imaging data thus removing subjectivity from the diagnostic procedure. Finally the team will explore a new approach to monitoring the interactions between pathogens, pharmaceuticals and relevant cells or tissues at the cellular and subcellular level using the instruments deployed on the free electron laser at Daresbury together with Raman microscopy. If this is successful, it will be important in the longer term in developing new treatments for cancer and other diseases.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/J010790/1
    Funder Contribution: 613,852 GBP

    String theory is believed to be a theory capable of describing all the known forces of nature, and provides a solution to the venerable problem of finding a theory of gravity consistent with quantum mechanics. To a first approximation, the world we observe corresponds to a vacuum of this theory. String theory admits many of these vacuum states and the class that is most likely to describe the observed world are the so-called `heterotic vacua'. Analysing these vacua requires the application of sophisticated tools drawn from mathematics, particularly from algebraic geometry. If history is any guide, the synthesis of these mathematical tools with observations drawn from physics will lead not only to significant progress in physics, but also important advances in mathematics. An example of such a major insight in mathematics, that arose from string theory, is mirror symmetry. This is the observation that within in a restricted class of string vacua, these arise in `mirror pairs'. This has the consequence that certain mathematical quantities, which are both important and otherwise mysterious, can be calculated in a straightforward manner. The class of heterotic vacua, of interest here, are a wider class of vacua, and an important question is to what extent mirror symmetry generalises and how it acts on this wider class. In a more precise description, the space of heterotic vacua is the parameter space of pairs (X,V) where X is a Calabi-Yau manifold and V is a stable holomorphic vector bundle on X. This space is a major object of study in algebra and geometry. String theory tells us that it is subject to quantum corrections. To understand the nature of these corrections is the key research problem in this proposal and any advance in our understanding will have a important impact in both mathematics and physics. By now it is widely understood that string theory and geometry are intimately related with much to be learned from each other, yet this relationship is relatively unexplored in the heterotic string. This fact, together with recent developments that indicate that longstanding problems have recently become tractable, means that the time is right to revisit the geometry of heterotic vacua.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/J501785/1
    Funder Contribution: 69,121 GBP

    Doctoral Training Partnerships: a range of postgraduate training is funded by the Research Councils. For information on current funding routes, see the common terminology at https://www.ukri.org/apply-for-funding/how-we-fund-studentships/. Training grants may be to one organisation or to a consortia of research organisations. This portal will show the lead organisation only.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/J019844/1
    Funder Contribution: 263,385 GBP

    Organic molecular monolayers at surfaces often constitute the central working component in nanotechnologies such as sensors, molecular electronics, smart coatings, organic solar cells, catalysts, medical devices, etc. A central challenge in the field is to achieve controlled creation of desired 2D molecular architectures at surfaces. Within this context, the past decade has witnessed a real and significant step-change in the 'bottom-up' self-organisation of 2D molecular assemblies at surfaces. The enormous variety and abundance of molecular structures formed via self-oeganisation has now critically tipped the argument strongly in favour of a 'bottom-up' construction strategy, which harnesses two powerful attributes of nanometer-precision (inaccessible to top-down methods) and highly parallel fabrication (impossible with atomic/molecular manipulation). Thus, bottom-up molecular assembly at surfaces holds the real possibility of becoming a dominating synthesis protocol in 21st century nanotechnologies Uniquely, the scope and versatility of these molecular architectures at 2D surfaces have been directly captured at the nanoscale via imaging with scanning probe microscopies and advanced surface spectroscopies. At present, however, the field is largely restricted to a 'make and see' approach and there is scarce understanding of any of the parameters that ultimately control molecular surface assembly. For example: (1) molecular assemblies at surfaces show highly polymorphic behaviour, and a priori control of assembly is practically non-existent; (2) little is understood of the influence and balance of the many interactions that drive molecular recognition and assembly (molecule-molecule interactions including dispersion, directional H-bonding and strong electrostatic and covalent interactions); (3) the role of surface-molecule interactions is largely uncharted even though they play a significant role in the diffusion of molecules and their subsequent assembly; (4), there is ample evidence that the kinetics of self-assembly is the major factor in determining the final structure, often driving polymorphic behaviour and leading to widely varied outcomes, depending on the conditions of formation; (5) a gamut of additional surface phenomena also also influence assembly e.g. chemical reactions between molecules, thermally activated internal degrees of freedom of molecules, surface reconstructions and co-assembly via coordinating surface atoms. The main objective of this project is to advance from experimental phenomena-reporting to knowledge-based design, and its central goal is to identify the role played by thermodynamic, entropic, kinetic and chemical factors in dictating molecular organisation at surfaces under given experimental conditions. To address this challenge requires a two-pronged approach in which ambitious and comprehensive theory development is undertaken alongside powerful imaging and spectroscopic tools applied to the same systems. This synergy of experiment and theory is absolutely essential to develop a fundamental understanding, which would enable a roadmap for controlled and engineered self-assembly at surfaces to be proposed that would, ultimately, allow one to 'dial up' a required structure at will. Four important and qualitatively different classes of assembly at surfaces will be studied: Molecular Self-Assembly; Hierarchical Self-Assembly; Metal-Organic Self Assembly; and, on-surface Covalent Assembly.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/J009733/1
    Funder Contribution: 406,787 GBP

    The peculiar behaviour of liquid and supercooled water has been baffling science for at least 236 years and is still seen as a major challenge facing chemistry today (Whitesides & Deutch, Nature 469, 21 (2011)). It was suggested that such strange behaviour might be caused by thermodynamic transitions, possibly even a second critical point. This second critical point would terminate a coexistence line between low- and high-density amorphous phases of water. Unfortunately, this second critical point (if it exists) and the associated polyamorphic liquid-liquid transition is difficult to study as it is thought to lie below the homogeneous nucleation temperature in a region known as "no man's land" (Angell, Science 319, 582 (2008)). In recent preliminary femtosecond optical Kerr-effect spectroscopy experiments, we have shown that water in concentrated eutectic solutions forms nanometre scale pools in which it retains many if not most of its bulk liquid characteristics. Most importantly, such solutions can be cooled to below 200 K without crystallisation (typically forming a glass at lower temperatures) allowing one to explore "no man's land" in detail for the first time. Preliminary experiments combining femtosecond spectroscopy with NMR diffusion measurements have shown that water in these pools undergoes a liquid-liquid transition as predicted for bulk water. Hence, it is proposed to use such nanopools as nanometre scale laboratories for the study of liquid and glassy water. A wide-ranging international collaboration has been set up to be able to study different critical aspects of the structure and dynamics of water. This includes cryogenic viscosity measurements, large dynamic-range (femtosecond to millisecond) optical Kerr-effect experiments, pulsed field gradient NMR, dielectric relaxation spectroscopy, terahertz time-domain spectroscopy, infrared pump-probe spectroscopy, and two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy. To ensure maximum impact of the experimental work, it is critical to have strong ties with experts in the theory and simulation of water and its thermodynamic behaviour. We have arranged collaboration with two international theory groups covering different aspects of the proposed work. Although the proposed research is relatively fundamental in nature, it will have impact as described in more detail elsewhere. The research addresses EPSRC priorities in nanoscience (supramolecular structures in liquids), energy (proton transport and liquid structuring in electrolytes for batteries and fuel cells), life sciences (the role of water in and on biomolecules), and the chemistry-chemical engineering interface (the role of the structuring of water in crystal nucleation). Our strong links with theory collaborators will ensure that fundamental insights will indeed propagate to the 'users' of such information. The close working relationship between the PI and CI has made Glasgow a centre of excellence in advanced femtosecond spectroscopy. This project exploits this expertise and international collaborations to immerse PDRAs and PGRSs in internationally leading research using state-of-the-art previously funded equipment.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/K004913/1
    Funder Contribution: 313,049 GBP

    For over 50 years, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) has demonstrated itself as an invaluable technique in the study of filled electronic states of solids, as well helping to determine the nature of interactions between solid surfaces and molecular species. Unfortunately there is one main drawback in the technique, that being that typical XPS measurements are performed in ultra high vacuum (UHV) conditions (10-10 mbar), due to the need of minimising the chances of unfavourable collisions occurring before the excited photoelectrons reach the energy analyser. Due to this restraint, studying the surfaces of technologically important materials occurs at a pressure many orders of magnitude lower than the operational conditions of the systems themselves (1-50 bar). Bridging this so-called "Pressure Gap" has remained a significant technological challenge. Very recent developments in electron energy analyser and sample holder design have for the first time allowed photoelectron spectroscopic measurements to be performed in ambient pressures of up to 25 mbar. The opportunity to study "real" surfaces in-situ and in-operando is a step change in the field of photoelectron spectroscopy, and opens a new and vital chapter in the area of surface science. The ambient pressure photoelectron spectroscopy (APPES) system is a state-of-the-art laboratory-based instrument with capabilities of performing high-energy resolution, low signal-to-noise photoemission measurements in up to 25 mbar ambient pressure with a number of different gases (O2, N2, H2, ethylene, acetylene). The instrument is equipped with a monochromated x-ray source and a high transmission, differentially pumped electron energy analyser. The system is fitted with an in-situ sample cell, which can provide a temperature range of 80 - 1100 K in the ambient atmospheres, permitting in-operando measurements. This specially designed modular in-situ cell, which is fully retractable from the analysis chamber, also allows standard UHV XPS comparative measurements to be performed with ease. The APPES instrument based at the Department of Materials, Imperial College London will be highly multidisciplinary, covering five broad research themes (i) Energy; (ii) Catalysis; (iii) Electronic Materials; (iv) Biomaterials; (v) Environmental and Heritage Science. The instrument, while hosted at Imperial is engaged in highly collaborative research at a regional, national (including the Diamond Light Source) and international level, with access arrangements also provided through coordination the National XPS Facility (NEXUS) at the University of Newcastle. This new approach to providing wide- reaching access will allow the APPES technique to be fully exploited and generate world-leading cutting edge scientific output.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/K006010/1
    Funder Contribution: 39,395 GBP

    This proposal addresses the challenge "How do we make better security decisions?". Specifically we propose to develop new approaches to decision support based on mathematical game theory. Our work will support professionals who are designing secure systems and also those charged with determining if systems have an appropriate level of security -- in particular, systems administrators. We will develop techniques to support human decision making and techniques which enable well-founded security design decisions to be made. We recognise that the emerging trend away from corporate IT systems towards a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) culture will bring new challenges and changes to the role of systems administrator. However, even in this brave new world, companies will continue to have core assets such as the network infrastructure and the corporate database which will need the same kind of protection. It is certainly to be expected that some of the attacks will now originate from inside the corporate firewall rather than from outside. Our team will include researchers from the Imperial College Business School who will help us to ensure that our models are properly reflecting these new threats. Whilst others have used game theoretic approaches to answer these questions, much of the previous work has been more or less ad hoc. As such the resulting security decisions may be based on unsound principles. In particular, it is common to use abstractions without giving much consideration to the relationship between properties of the abstract model and the real system. We will develop a new game theoretic framework which enables a precise analysis of these relationships and hence provides a more robust decision support tool.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/K011693/1
    Funder Contribution: 300,568 GBP

    It is reported that the total energy consumed by the ICT infrastructure of wireless and wired networks takes up over 3 percent of the worldwide electric energy consumption that generated 2 percent of the worldwide CO2 emissions nowadays. It is predicted that in the future a major portion of expanding traffic volumes will be in wireless side. Furthermore, future wireless network systems (e.g., 4G/B4G) are increasingly demanded as broadband and high-speed tailored to support reliable Quality of Service (QoS) for numerous multimedia applications. With explosive growth of high-rate multimedia applications (e.g. HDTV and 3DTV), more and more energy will be consumed in wireless networks to meet the QoS requirements. Specifically, it is predicted that footprint of mobile wireless communications could almost triple from 2007 to 2020 corresponding to more than one-third of the present annual emissions of the whole UK. Therefore, energy-efficient green wireless communications are paid increasing attention given the limited energy resources and environment-friendly transmission requirements globally. The aim of this project is to improve the joint spectrum and energy efficiency of future wireless network systems using cognitive radio technology along with innovative game-theoretic resource scheduling methods, efficient cross-layer designs and contemporary clinical findings. We plan to consider the health and environmental concerns to introduce power-efficient resource scheduling designs that intelligently exploit the available wireless resources in next-generation systems. Our efforts will leverage applications of cognitive radio techniques to situational awareness of the communications system with adaptive power control and dynamic spectrum allocation. This project will underpin the UK green communication technology by designing environment-friendly joint power and spectrum efficient wireless communication systems.

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  • Funder: UKRI Project Code: EP/J020915/1
    Funder Contribution: 583,832 GBP

    Argumentation provides a powerful mechanism for dealing with incomplete, possibly inconsistent information and for the resolution of conflicts and differences of opinion amongst different parties. Further, it is useful for justifying outcomes. Thus, argumentation can support several aspects of decision-making, either by individual entities performing critical thinking (needing to evaluate pros and cons of conflicting decisions) or by multiple entities dialectically engaged to come to mutually agreeable decisions (needing to assess the validity of information the entities become aware of and resolve conflicts), especially when decisions need to be transparently justified (e.g. in medicine). Because of its potential to support decision-making when transparently justifying decisions is essential, the use of argumentation has been considered in a number of settings, including medicine, law, e-procurement, e-business and design rationale in engineering. Potential users of existing argumentation-based decision-making methods are empowered by transparent methods, afforded by argumentation, but lack either means of formal evaluation sanctioning decisions as (individually or collectively) rational or a computational framework for supporting automation. The combination of these three features (transparency, rationality and computational tools for automation) is essential for argumentation-based decision-making to have a fruitful impact on applications. Indeed, for example, a medical practitioner would not find a "black-box" recommended decision useful, but he/she would also not trust a fully transparent, dialectically justified decision unless he/she were sure that this is the best one (rational). In addition, the plethora of information doctors need to take into account nowadays to make decisions requires automated support. TRaDAr aims at providing methods and prototype systems for various kinds of argumentation-based (individual and collaborative) decision-making that generate automatically transparent, rational decisions, while developing case studies in smart electricity and e-health to inform and validate methods and systems. In this context, TRaDAr's technical objectives are: (O1) to provide novel argumentation-based formulations of decision problems for individual and collaborative decision-making; (O2) to study formal properties of the formulations at (O1), sanctioning the rationality of decisions; (O3) to provide real-world case studies in smart electricity and e-health for (individual and collaborative) decision-making, using the formulations at (O1) and demonstrating the importance of the properties at (O2) as well as the transparent nature of argumentation-based decision-making; (O4) to define provably correct algorithms for the formulations at (O1), supporting rational and transparent (individual and collaborative) decision-making; (O5) to implement prototype systems incorporating the computational methods at (O4), and use these systems to demonstrate the methodology at (O1-O2) for the case studies at (O3). The project intends to develop novel techniques within an existing framework of computational argumentation, termed assumption-based argumentation, towards the achievements of these objectives, and adapting notions and techniques from classical (quantitative) decision theory and mechanism design in economics. The envisaged TRaDAr's methodology and systems will contribute to a sustainable society supported by the digital economy, and in particular they will support people in making informed choices. The project will focus on demonstrating the proposed techniques in specific case studies (smart electricity and e-health for breast cancer) in two chosen application areas (digital economy and e-health), but its outcomes could be far-reaching into other case studies (e.g. in other areas of medicine) as well as other sectors (e.g. in engineering, for supporting decisions on design choices).

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