Design Council expertise to boost physics projects

Physics lab

The Design Council will help to improve research coming out of the University.

Research on radiation detectors, robots and an alternative to the GPS system is to receive a boost with news that the University of Liverpool has teamed up with the Design Council to accelerate their commercialisation process.

The projects have all been developed by researchers in Liverpool’s Department of Physics who are now working with an experienced designer under the Design Council’s Design Leadership Programme.

The Programme provides a ‘Design Associate’ drawn from the Design Council’s expert roster to support the University in identifying users and markets, and attracting further investment for research and development.

Forefront of research

The projects selected by the University represent some of the emerging areas at the forefront of research in applied nuclear and particle physics. One is a robotic system which can carry a radiation detector across contaminated land to reduce the need for humans to enter danger zones.

Another project the University and Design Council believe has the potential to succeed commercially is a detection system for use at ports. This system is designed to prevent the smuggling of nuclear materials and is an improvement on current systems as it can detect even material which is shielded.

The same technology could be adapted and used in navigation where it is hoped that it will become a more accurate alternative to GPS.

The projects selected by the University represent some of the emerging areas at the forefront of research in applied nuclear and particle physics.
Dr Marco Palumbo, Physics Commercialisation Manager at Liverpool said: “The projects we’ve identified to work on with the Design Council are at the very forefront of applied physics. What the Design Leadership Programme brings is specialist knowledge of communicating and translating these ideas into the commercial world.

“When offered the chance to bid for the Design Leadership Programme, we took that opportunity straight away. I am a strong believer in the added value on a product or service coming from good design practice.

“The challenge here is to prove that there is more to design than simply crafting some nice white plastic boxes to hide our beautiful technology inside. We are keen to use design strategically to explore how pure research meets the needs of users in real-world scenarios.”


In total four projects will be developed over the six month span of the collaboration. The other two are a detector to check that reactors aren’t being used to make military grade material and a portable radiation detector for use in the security industry.

Design Council Services Manager, Pauline Shakespeare explains: “I am delighted that following Dr Palumbo’s attendance at one of our one-day training workshops, our relationship with the University of Liverpool has developed into an ongoing partnership.”

Activity will consist of workshops and detailed planning of activities and strategy to commercialise each project. The tailored service will include practical support to ensure that both short and long-term applications of the technology can be investigated.

At the end of the programme it is hoped the four projects will have benefited from improved concept visualisation, roadmap evaluation, final-user engagement, prototyping and presentation aimed at raising further investment.


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