A new interdisciplinary initiative in Molecular Engineering has been launched to address key scientific problems in energy and environmental sustainability. Molecular Engineering is an emerging field which connects molecular science to nanotechnology via an underpinning of product design and engineering concepts. It expressly notions product design at the molecular scale, embracing rational molecular design concepts to tailor a material to meet a specific need in device technology.
Initial projects include developing solar-powered ‘smart windows’ for energy sustainable buildings in future cities, advanced materials for next-generation optical data storage and ultra-fast telecommunications, light-activated molecular machines for nano-sensors, molecular containment of energy fuels and environmental waste.
A “design-to-device” approach will use a wide variety of experimental, computational and data science techniques to realise this goal. This includes X–ray and neutron diffraction and spectroscopy, electrochemistry, density-functional theory and large-scale data-mining.
The Head of Molecular Engineering, Jacqueline Cole, will lead this initiative via an alliance between the Cavendish Laboratory (Physics) and the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, and a strategic partnership with the UK neutron source (the ISIS Facility) at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.