Analytical science

Development of novel techniques, or novel application of existing techniques, to analyse chemical or biological matter and systems, for example. This research area includes developing or translating techniques to determine chemical structure. It does not include techniques specifically aimed at researching physical and chemical phenomena between two interfaces (captured in the Surface Science research area).

By the end of the Delivery Plan period, our aim is for the Analytical Science research community to have developed a clearer identity, alongside recognition of Analytical Science's status as a research area in its own right and not just an enabling technology - with a distinctive and valuable contribution made by this area towards all EPSRC Outcomes.

This will include the following specific actions:

  • To encourage development of community identity, we will refocus a proportion of investments towards research that includes co-ordination and collaboration activities. This will provide community leadership in areas of national need and support the career development of research scientists working in Analytical Science
  • To reinforce the research nature of the area, we will facilitate activities aimed at producing an overarching set of research challenges that will provide a framework that the community can coalesce around. Within these challenges, we will particularly encourage inclusion of transformative and disruptive techniques and approaches, as well as user-informed research

In view of its disruptive potential in a number of applied areas - and to contribute towards EPSRC Outcomes - we will help the community to strengthen links with industry and other intended users of new techniques (which include techniques that elucidate chemical structure, for instance). For Healthy Nation, Analytical Science should make better use of our Healthcare Technologies Impact and Translation Toolkit to better realise this potential. (Evidence source 1)

Highlights:

This is an interdisciplinary area with broad applications and challenges; it also has a range of equipment needs and approaches to using it. The UK is world-leading in analytical fields such as Raman spectroscopy and in structure-characterising techniques such as mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. The breadth of the area, however, has led to a lack of clear community identity. (Evidence sources 2, 3,4)

The UK both develops novel techniques and readily adapts technology to novel applications, and these are critical, often disruptive enablers for other areas of research. Novel approaches and brand new techniques do not always start with a clear application in mind; but where potential applications can be conceived, the constraints on and requirements of the eventual user need to be considered. For example, real-time structure determination during a reaction could have applications in a manufacturing plant and environmental constraints there could influence the technique's development.

Industrial users across a number of sectors (e.g. pharma, agrochemical, health, forensics, manufacturing, energy and sensors) regard the development, improvement (e.g. greater sensitivity) and use of analytical techniques as business-critical. User needs should therefore inform a proportion of the UK's research activities and priorities in this area. (Evidence sources 5,6,7,8,9,10)

A large fraction of our investment in Analytical Science is in training. Industry has significant need for people trained in analytical scientific skills. The UK research community would also benefit from more pull-through of this training into academia. (Evidence source 11)

The Analytical Science research area relies heavily on the availability of capital. A significant proportion of our investment in this area therefore supports infrastructure (facilities or equipment). Research activities will be best served by the community making best use of existing equipment and considering the optimal use of the limited new capital investment available.

Currently contributing especially to the Healthy Nation Outcome, with investments linking particularly strongly to the Optimise Diagnosis and Treatment Ambition. Potential for future investments to contribute towards all Outcomes and examples are given below for the Healthy and Productive nation outcomes:

H1: Transform community health and care

This research area has a significant role, for instance, in self-management (e.g. home-based monitoring of diseases and conditions, such as breath analysis for disease detection).

H2: Improve prevention and public health

This area can assist determination/monitoring of hazards (e.g. air quality, antimicrobial resistance) in built environments.

P1: Introduce the next generation of innovative and disruptive technologies

This area can aid development of measurement technology and chemical sensor technology for material/chemical processing in advanced manufacturing.

P3: Establish a new place for industry that is built upon a 'make it local, make it bespoke' approach

This area will generate novel techniques or adapt existing techniques that can be used in distributed manufacturing environments.

Research area connections

This diagram shows the top 10 connections between Research Areas within the EPSRC research portfolio. The depth of the segment relates to value of grants and the width of the segment relates to the number of grants shared by those two Research Areas. Please click to see the related Research Area rationale.

Maintain

We aim to maintain this area as a proportion of the EPSRC portfolio.

Visualising our Portfolio (VoP)
Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships.

EPSRC support by research area in Analytical science (GoW)
Search EPSRC's research and training grants.

Contact Details

In the following table, contact information relevant to the page. The first column is for visual reference only. Data is in the right column.

Name: Sally Birse
Telephone: 01793 444002