Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering


Professor Alessandro Olivo announced Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies

4 October 2019

The Royal Academy of Engineering recently announced its eight new Chairs in Emerging Technologies, one of which was awarded to Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering's Prof Alessandro Olivo.


Alessandro Olivo, Professor in Applied Physics and leader of the Advanced X-Ray Imaging research group (AXIm), is working to change the way x-rays are used in a variety of fields, including medicine, industrial inspections and security scans. Since Roentgen’s discovery of x-rays in 1895, their use has been based on differences in attenuation, the way the intensity reduces as the beam passes through a material. Professor Olivo will develop new systems based on his observation that all x-rays emerging from a sample deviate from their original path by very small amounts, providing a wealth of untapped information about the sample they have passed through. This research, the Royal Academy of Engineering states, is among the disruptive innovations which have the potential to considerably benefit society and the UK economy, and enable the nation to remain at the global forefront of engineering innovation. 

The Academy has announced over £22 million in research funding through its Chairs in Emerging Technologies programme, providing long-term support to eight world-leading engineers across the UK to advance emerging technologies. The areas of research funded reflect the UK’s wider technological priorities, with many of the projects directly aligned to the government’s Industrial Strategy and designed to tackle some of the biggest industrial and societal challenges of our time.

The ten-year support provided to the Chairs will enable them to progress their pioneering ideas from basic science through to full deployment and commercialisation.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “Engineering is critical to the research and innovation process, enabling the generation of tangible economic benefits for the nation. Emerging technologies offer enormous opportunities for the UK, both economically and socially. Investment in these areas will help us to stay competitive in the global marketplace and to establish a foothold in developing future markets. The quality and vision of those receiving the awards are testament to the outstanding research talent in the UK. It is essential that we support both the innovations and the pioneering individuals who will transform their ideas into fully commercialised technologies with important and widespread applications.

Dr Dame Frances Saunders DBE CB FREng, who leads the Chairs in Emerging Technologies steering group, said “We have had a large number of fantastic research proposals from very talented individuals across a wide range of engineering disciplines, which has made our job of choosing the final eight awardees particularly challenging. We have been delighted to see ideas coming forward in this round to apply emerging technologies that could revolutionise some more traditional fields of engineering as well as those that could open new areas of application. This is an exciting set of proposals and we look forward to seeing their progress in the years to come.

See a full list of the chairs and their research projects, including WEISS Director Prof Danail Stoyanov, on the Royal Academy of Engineering website