Two Imperial researchers have received UKRI Future Leaders Fellowships to tackle ambitious and challenging research and innovation.
The Future Leaders Fellowship (FLF) scheme aims to develop the next wave of world-class research and innovation leaders in academia and business.
UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said: “The Future Leaders Fellowships provide researchers and innovators with the freedom and generous long-term support to develop adventurous new ideas and to cross disciplinary boundaries and between academia and industry.”
Imperial’s fellows have both received support during Imperial’s application process Postdoc and Fellows Development Centerincluding mock interviews.
Below we meet Imperial’s newest Future Leaders Fellows.
dr. Raj Patel, Department of Physics
The allure of quantum computers stems from the unparalleled computing power they provide for certain calculations. They use quirky effects such as superimposition, where a photon (light quanta) can be in two places at once, and entanglement, where observing one photon can provide information about another photon, however far apart they are. However, these important effects are extremely sensitive to noise and loss of photons, leading to computational errors for a quantum computer.
The Future Leaders Fellowship allows me to explore methods to detect and correct errors in both short-term and future photonic (light-based) quantum processors. This includes the development of new nanophotonic components to help reduce photon loss in conjunction with low-loss integrated photonic circuits where information can be processed and errors detected and corrected. With similar circuitry, exotic quantum states of light can be developed that are error-resistant and form the basis for future fault-tolerant quantum computers.
The fellowship’s support and resources make an ambitious project like this possible. It will provide me with a solid foundation on which to develop as a leader, grow and expand my team, forge new collaborations in academia and industry, and tackle the most challenging problems in photonic quantum technologies.
dr. Alalea Kia, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Floods related to urbanization are a huge problem – estimated global costs are £500bn a year by 2030 and are expected to cost the UK economy £27bn a year by 2080, if no action is taken.
Current permeable pavements designed to collect rain face a number of challenges, including low strength and durability, and are also prone to clogging by sediments. I’ve developed a clog-resistant, permeable pavement called Kiacrete, which is designed to solve these challenges. Developed by my extensive research and start-up company PermiaKiacrete provides significant environmental benefits and contributes to achieving net-zero, through flood control, reduced emissions, water reuse and the reduced urban heat island effect.
If you’ve been to Imperial’s White City Campus, you may have walked on Kiacrete. My patented interlocking tile supply system was deployed there two years ago and so far monitoring has shown excellent durability and drainage performance.
The Future Leaders Fellowship allows me to become a leader in sustainable and resilient permeable infrastructure. It will enable me to redesign Kiacrete to develop the first permeable pavement with sufficient strength and resilience for essential infrastructure in the built environment, including airports, highways, railways and buildings.
I will grow my research group through this fellowship by recruiting PhD students and postdoctoral researchers to do state-of-the-art research and innovation. The fellowship also provides an opportunity to strengthen collaboration between leading academics and industry partners, from local government to transportation infrastructure operators, engineering consultancies and contractors, enabling me to leverage my technical innovation and its significant environmental and social benefits can demonstrate.