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Prospectus for Partnership

Innovation...more than just having good ideas

The Department has a distinguished history of taking innovation through to realisation. For over half a century it has showed the world the way forward in the areas of corrosion, physical metallurgy, advanced applications of electron microscopy, composite materials and, very recently, computer simulation of materials. Current successes include:

A radically redesigned steel for railway lines, enabling large improvements in wear and toughness characteristics at very modest cost: a development which will leave its impact around the world.

steel for railway lines

Magnetic tags used in the retail trade have been greatly advanced through the introduction of thin sputter-coated layers of amorphous FeCoB. The successful design and processing of ultra thin layers of this material enables it to be sufficiently magnetically soft to achieve the appropriate deactivation at checkout. Current production in industry is many millions per week.

magnetic tags

Polyglycolic acid is now commonly used for internal sutures, as not only does it minimise trauma to the tissue, but it also has suitable mechanical properties to hold the wound together before decomposing to harmless glycolic acid. Research is continuing to understand the fundamentals of the biodegradation process and its relationship to the polymer structure, morphology and mechanical environment.

polyglycolic acid

As a new process has been developed to laminate ceramics to make them really tough as well as hard and heat resisting. A prototype gas turbine combustion chamber made in this way is already showing promise to a European-based consortium including 'Daimler Benz', 'Volvo Aero', and 'Ceramiques et Composites'.

laminate ceramics

The merger of 'Molecular Simulations Inc.' (MSI) with 'Bio Sym' has created the largest materials modelling company in the world. It completes a journey which started in this Department ten years ago with the spin off of 'Cambridge Molecular Design', with the Materials software package Cerius, to found a Cambridge Science Park Company. Cerius has come out on top in every merger so far and is now the world standard in the field. The European base of operations of MSI remains in Cambridge. molecular simulations