BASF & Royal Academy of Engineering Senior Research Fellowship in Data Driven Molecular Engineering of Functional Material
18 Oct 2018



The Royal Academy of Engineering has awarded Jacqui Cole, who has a joint appointment with Cambridge University and the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, a 5-year Fellowship under their Research Chair and Senior Research Fellowship scheme.

Prof Jacqui Cole at Target Station 2 of the UK’s Neutron and Muon  Facility where she experimentally validates her materials.

​​Prof Jacqui Cole at Target Station 2 of the UK's Neutron and Muon Facility where she experimentally validates her materials.Credit: STFC​


​Jacqui Cole is Head of Molecular Engineering at Cambridge has a long history of collaboration with the Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC), and STFC's ISIS Neutron and Muon source is the founding external partner to Molecular Engineering at Cambridge. The Royal Academy of Engineering award enables Jacqui to welcome a new external partner, BASF, the world's largest chemical company, to join the collaboration.

The aim of this synergic collaboration between industry,  STFC, and academia, with the endorsement of this learned society, to provide a data-driven approach to materials discovery. The team will be working with STFC's Scientific Computing Department to apply the latest advances in artificial intelligence to systematically predict new chemical materials tailored to suit a given application. Lead candidates from these materials will then be experimentally validated via concerted team efforts in synthesis, advanced materials characterization, device fabrication and testing, combining multiple techniques carried out at STFC's ISIS Neutron and Muon Source, Central Laser Facility, Diamond Light Source and the Research Complex at Harwell.

This systematic approach overcomes the traditional 'trial-and-error' methods to materials discovery. This is an important paradigm shift for industry because this reliance on serendipitous materials discovery has led to an unfeasibly long 'molecule-to-market' timeframe of 20 years (current global average).

A data-science platform for the molecular engineering of functional materials stands to massively accelerate technological innovation, via the provision of new materials developed by rational molecular design to suit a given device application. Through this Fellowship, Jacqui aims to deliver new materials for three key industrial application areas: solar cells, magnetic devices and catalysts. 

Jacqui says, ""This is a unique opportunity for a collaborative project between STFC, industry and academia. We aim to discover new materials which can help us with today's grand challenges of engineering, by using advanced data science methods."​

Contact: Fletcher, Sara (STFC,RAL,BID)