Emeritus Professor of Materials Science
Fellow of Trinity College
Alan Windle’s research career has spanned Metallurgy, Polymers and Nanotechnology. He is now Emeritus Professor of Materials Science at Cambridge University, and leads a research group, which has carbon nanotubes as its major theme. He was awarded the Bessemer Medal and the Royal Society of Arts Silver Medal in 1963, the Rosenhain Medal in 1987, the Swinburne Medal and Prize in 1992, the Founders Prize of the UK Polymer Physics group in 2006 and the Royal Society’s Armourers and Brasiers Medal in 2007. He was elected FRS in 1997, and awarded a Cambridge ScD in 2012. He was closely involved in the founding of Cambridge Molecular Design, a materials software company, and of the Melville Laboratory for Polymer Synthesis at Cambridge. He was Executive Director of the Cambridge-MIT Institute during its formative years. He has also served as a Commissioner for the Royal Commission for the 1851 Exhibition. He is the Director of the Pfizer Institute for Pharmaceutical Materials Science and Director and CSO of Q-Flo, a company designed to exploit the spinning of carbon nanotubes into fibre directly from the reaction zone at 1250°C. Q-Flo has international partnerships in place to drive the major scale-up of the fibre process. The major application of the material is in light-weight armour and it is also a possible replacement for copper as an electrical conductor. He has published some 350 papers in the areas of polymer physics, liquid crystalline polymers, computational modelling and carbon nanotube science and technology.
Subject groups/Research projects
- Carbon Nanotubes:
Being from a polymeric background nanotubes have caught my interest because they could be considered as the ultimate macromolecule. The direct spinning process of carbon nanotube fibres was originally developed under my supervision.
- Composite Materials:
It has been known for some time that carbon nanotubes have improved the properties of polymer composites. However the quality of the composite depends on the degree of alignment of the nanotubes. The direct spinning method allows us to produce highly aligned nanotubes in fibre form and I am interested in using them as a matrix to provide a framework for superior composite fibres.
- Carbon Nanotubes Processing:
My group is interested in investigating the synthesis process and post-synthesis techniques to optimise the carbon nanotube fibre properties.
- Physical Characterisation of Nanomaterials:
In addition to nanotube specific techniques for example Raman spectroscopy we also use methods found in more traditional polymer applications such as small and wide angle X-ray scattering.