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Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability

Department of Physics

Symposium on Recent Breakthroughs from Electronics to Life Sciences in Materials


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The second annual Winton Symposium was held on 30th September at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. The topic for this year was "Materials Discovery" and brought together leading scientists from around the world to explore some of the recent breakthroughs that reveal just how unexpected the physical world turns out to be. Speakers covered a wide gamut of topics from 'electronics' through to 'life sciences', with the format similar to the Inaugural event on "Energy Efficiency" which drew a large audience of researchers and industrialists from a range of disciplines from Cambridge and further afield.  Follow link for details of the Inaugural Winton Symposium.


Session I

The opening speaker was Professor Chris Wise who has designed a number of landmark building projects. This includes the London 2012 Velodrome that has been hailed as a "supreme" example of 21st century engineering, yet its roots can be traced back to the intrinsic elegance of a Stradivarius violin. In his talk he will explore current thoughts on demand reduction, quality assurance and Building Information Modelling, and look for better answers to address the global problem of shrinking resources serving an expanding population.

Link to presentation

Professor Chris Wise "Learning from Stradivarius"

Session II

As the size of materials is reduced unexpected phenomena can be observed which can lead to many different applications. Professor Andrea Ferrari, Director of the Cambridge Graphene Centre, explored the world of ultrathin films and the future of graphene as an emerging technology. This was followed by Professor Paul Alivisatos, Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who is one of the pioneers in the field of nanocrystals. In his talk he addressed some of the principles for design of these structures and their applications for catalysis and sensing.

Session III

In the biological world, the building blocks are complex systems, which can be manipulated to form new forms of functional materials. Professor Jason Chin is Programme Leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, at the University of Cambridge. He has developed approaches to control biological systems with molecular, spatial and temporal precision and discussed how this can be used to produce artificial genetic code. This was followed by Professor Daniel Fletcher, from University of California, Berkeley who has being studying the mechanics and dynamics of cell movement. His talk focused on self-organisation of biological structures.

Link to presentation

Professor Daniel Fletcher "Alive of Dead? Self-organisation of Biological Structures"

Session IV

This session had talks from two leading scientists with a background in chemistry. Ben Feringa has been Professor of Organic Chemistry since 1988 at the University of Groningen and has been designing a wide range of materials. In this talk he covered the breakthroughs he has led in the field of 'molecular motors'. Professor George Whitesides is one of the leading material scientists of his generation and is Professor at Department of Chemistry at Harvard University. His research crosses many disciplines with applications ranging from biology to microelectronics, some of which he discussed in his talk.


The symposium was organised by Professor Sir Richard Friend, Cavendish Professor of Physics and Director of the Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability and Dr Nalin Patel the Winton Programme Manager.

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