Imperial College London

Celebrating the work of Professor Milo Shaffer, Director of the LCN for 10 years

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An image of Professor Milo Shaffer

As the LCN appoints a new Director, a look back at the achievements of Professor Milo Shaffer as Director of the LCN.

Thank you Milo for a decade at the helm of the LCN and for making the LCN the world-leading institution it is today.  Here is to another decade of nano-success! The London Centre for Nanotechnology

The London Centre for Nanotechnology welcomed Professor Sandrine Heutz as its new Director this month, taking over the role from Professor Milo Shaffer. Professor Shaffer became head of the LCN in 2010, succeeding Neil Alford, and his predecessors David McComb and co-founder Tim Jones.  He is the longest-serving Imperial LCN director, and in celebration, the LCN have collated a variety of key events over the past 10 years to celebrate his nano-dedication and achievements by remembering some of the milestones that he oversaw.

Major LCN milestones

Evolution of the LCN logo, from the original design (left) to the current one (right), officially unveiled in 2011. Notice the change in colour and word distribution in the bottom banner.
Evolution of the LCN logo, from the original design (left) to the current one (right), officially unveiled in 2011. Notice the change in colour and word distribution in the bottom banner.

While Milo was Director of the LCN, there were over 150 news items published on the London Centre for Nanotechnology! The first news story published highlights Milo's appointment as Director. Milo also announced his arrival by “putting nano at the centre” and adopting a much improved blue LCN logo.

In 2011, The 5th Anniversary of the LCN in was key a major milestone for the centre at Imperial College London. A line-up of VIPs from academia, government, and industry praised the Centre’s ongoing success in a variety of disciplines. The logo was unveiled on a cake cut with UCL co-director and co-founder Gabriel Aeppli. This milestones marked 5 years following of the completion of the Bloomsbury building. The celebration was opened by Milo and attended by many VIPs, including the Rector of Imperial College, Professor Sir Keith O'Nions, the Provost of UCL, and directors from the UK Government's Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Professor Sir Adrian Smith and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Dr Lesley Thompson, who spoke at the event.  It included a programme of dazzling scientific talks by LCN researchers.

Five years later, the UCL is led by Professor Andrew Fisher, and the LCN celebrates its 10th Anniversary in September 2016.  The celebration was held in the UCL cloisters, and featured an exciting programme of talks as well as demos by LCN researchers.  It was also an opportunity to release a movie celebrating LCN’s nano-achievements.  

A packed meeting to celebrate 10 years of the LCN, here showing the exhibit and reception at the UCL cloisters.
A packed meeting to celebrate 10 years of the LCN, here showing the exhibit and reception at the UCL cloisters.

Professor Shaffer also oversaw the 10th Anniversary of LCN building on 23rd Sept 2016. At the celebratory event, Philip Nelson (Chief Executive of EPSRC) praised the centre as an example of cooperation between leading research universities and an opportunity to make the very best use of high-value equipment, while James Stirling (Provost of Imperial) and David Price (Vice-Provost for Research at UCL) commented on the impressive research record of the LCN’s interdisciplinary community.

In 2017, the LCN also featured in the London Tech film, where Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, declares London Is Open to global technology.  

In 2018, Kings College joined the LCN. A celebratory launch event was held at the Great Hall in KCL's Strand campus to mark KCL joining the LCN.  It featured an exciting talk from Professor Stuart Parkin from the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics which crossed the boundaries between solid-state physics, engineering and biology.  The Deputy Mayor of London for Business, Rajesh Agrawal, and the Executive Chair from the EPSRC, Professor Phillip Nelson, also gave insightful presentations as did some other LCN researchers.  It was also attended by the provosts and principals from the three institutions.  

VIPs, directors and some speakers at the KCL accession launch event
VIPs, directors and some speakers at the KCL accession launch event

Major Grants

  • The LCN was involved in major grant success over the last decade.  Notable successes of joint UCL-Imperial initiatives include i-sense, an EPSRC IRC in Agile Early Warning Sensing Systems for Infectious Diseases and Antimicrobial Resistance, founded in 2011 and extended until 2022.  The Centre for Doctoral Training in the Advanced Characterisation of Materials builds on the strength of LCN researchers and infrastructure, and was awarded in 2014, and recently renewed. 
  • Following on from the initial LCN award for a world-leading microscopy suite, the portfolio of state-of the art equipment to study the nano-world keeps growing.  This includes the award of SPIN-Lab, and the setup of the Royce hub “Atoms-to-devices” which will occupy a whole floor of the Michael Uren building on the White City campus.  LCN researchers have won numerous programme grants over the years, not least the recently awarded “Next Generation Fibre-Reinforced Composites: a Full Scale Redesign for Compression” led by Professor Shaffer!

LCN Outreach activities 

LCN researchers at the Imperial Festival, at the Amazing Masers (left) and SPIN-Lab (right) stands.
LCN researchers at the Imperial Festival, at the Amazing Masers (left) and SPIN-Lab (right) stands.

Over the last decade, the LCN has been spreading the message about the nano-world to the public, and the wider scientific community, supporting conferences, and winning international competitions:

  • Big Bang fair:  To celebrate National Science and Engineering week, the UK’s Young Scientists and Engineers Fair ran from the 15-17th March 2012 at the NEC in Birmingham.
  • Supporting INASCON: The London Centre for Nanotechnology held a joint venture between University College London and Imperial College London to host the 7th INASCON (International Nanoscience Student Conference) from 19th-22nd August 2013.
  • Lego2Nano: In 2014, Researchers from LCN took part in a competition in Beijing to build an atomic force microscope from Lego!
  • Imperial Festival: LCN supports stands at this major festival which hosts over 10,000 members of the public over 3 days. Here are examples from the SPIN-Lab and Amazing Masers stands in 2017.
  • LCN researchers were involved in several Royal Society Summer Exhibition, including the Amazing Maser.

Distinguished visitors to the LCN

Over the last decade, the LCN has been a magnet for many distinguished visitors, from the high spheres of government, international politics and scientific leaderships.  These include (titles at time of visit) French Prime Minister Francois Fillon; the European Union Commissioner for Research, Innovation & Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn; BP Chief Scientist Professor Ellen Williams; Government Chief Scientific Advisor Professor Sir John Beddington; President of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Chunli Bai; the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Carlos Moedas, amongst others. 

Amongst all the LCN success, let’s not forget Milo’s own staggering achievements as a leader in the science and application of nanostructures.  In particular, his collaborative work with LCN researchers, including Chris Howard and Neal Skipper at UCL, has set the scene for the processing of carbon nanotubes into useable solutions, through controlling their charge state.  These discoveries have led to significant scientific advances, and development into industrial applications - A typical example is the development of SEERe- Carbon Nanotube ink – with Linde plc. 

The London Centre for Nanotechnology would like to thank Milo for his decade at the helm of the LCN and for making the LCN the world-leading institution it is today.  Here is to another decade of nano-success!

Reporter

Kayleigh Brewer

Kayleigh Brewer
Department of Materials

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Nanotechnology, Materials
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