A pioneer in engineering new materials for use in healthcare is to receive the £2,000 Royal Academy of Engineering Armourers and Brasiers Prize for his achievements that have improved the quality of life of patients in many ways.

Professor Mohan Edirisinghe FREng of University College London’s Department of Mechanical Engineering has spent his 25-year career developing new methods to manufacture advanced materials in response to industry requirements, in particular healthcare. As medical devices have become smaller, Professor Edirisinghe has developed novel techniques for producing materials at the micro- and nano-scale with features, such as bubbles and particles that are many times smaller than the width of a human hair.

His patented technology for producing micro-bubbles and nano-particles has enabled the manufacture of whole new drug delivery systems, such as layered capsules loaded with drugs. Such systems can improve the way that conditions such as urinary tract infections are treated, saving money and alleviating the suffering of thousands of patients through more efficient drug delivery.

To manufacture such materials consistently, Professor Edirisinghe was the first to develop novel gyratory methods for manufacturing polymer nano-fibres, in which reactants are spun at high speeds under pressure. Pressurised gyration has since been patented and supported by large chemical and pharmaceutical companies, with a number of similar gyratory manufacturing processes being used to produce components such as antimicrobial filters.

Professor Edirisinghe was also the first person to process very viscous materials using electrohydrodyanmic (EHD) techniques, which involves using electrically charged fluids to print tiny structures an order of magnitude finer than those possible using ink-jet printing. EHD printing is now used to produce porous structures for tissue engineering, and bioactive ceramic-on-metal coatings for orthopaedic implants.

Explaining his passion for his work, Professor Edirisinghe said:

“I’m a maker and an innovator, and I want to help make things that previously couldn’t be made. In healthcare, people want smaller and smaller features, so I want to invent new methods of production that will also scale up, making them attractive to industry. Ultimately, new materials will reach a patient or user and give them and their clinicians more freedom.

“Materials engineering holds the key to many solutions for academia and industry, and I enjoy working in a mechanical engineering environment as it gives me the freedom to explore manufacturing techniques. I’m honoured to receive this award in recognition of my achievements in these fields.”

Notes for editors

  1. The RAEng Armourers and Brasiers’ Company Prize. The £2,000 prize is awarded for excellence in materials engineering, as demonstrated in the successful application of novel materials science and technology in practical engineering systems. It was first awarded in 2015; the award will be made biennially.
  2. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

    We have four strategic challenges:
    - Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
    - Address the engineering skills crisis
    - Position engineering at the heart of society
    - Lead the profession
  3. Armourers and Brasiers’ Company is a livery company of the City of London. Founded in 1322, it is one of the most significant private sponsors of Materials Science in the UK, providing support at all stages of education from primary schools to post-doctoral level. Materials Science is the modern academic discipline most closely aligned to the Armourers and Brasiers’ historic trade of innovation and manufacturing in metals.

For more information please contact:

Aaron Boardley at the Royal Academy of Engineering

T: 020 7766 0655
E: Aaron Boardley