Dstl funds synthetic biology research to boost UK’s defence capabilities

10 February 2016 (Last Updated February 10th, 2016 18:30)

The UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is investing in synthetic biology research to provide new applications improving the country's defence and security capabilities.

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The UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is investing in synthetic biology research to provide new applications improving the country's defence and security capabilities.

Under the £18m investment, Dstl seeks to use synthetic biology to produce novel materials for armour, or help identify a new approach to existing materials at a reduced cost.

The new material, which is anticipated to be identified within the next four years, could prove beneficial for enhanced ballistic protection and lightweight armour, as well as transparent screens and anti-mist lenses.

Dstl professor Neil Stansfield said: "It is important that Dstl keeps abreast of such emerging technologies, ensuring that our armed forces can benefit from cutting-edge capability.

"Our programme champions innovation and works with partners to explore and deliver new technology opportunities for the security and prosperity of the UK."

A themed competition will also be held to identify new approaches to producing materials that address defence challenges.

"It is important that Dstl keeps abreast of such emerging technologies, ensuring that our armed forces can benefit from cutting-edge capability."

The projects selected will build upon Dstl's existing programme, while the next phase of funding will be administered through Dstl's Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE).

Claimed to be a major emerging technology by the UK Government, synthetic biology is capable of producing new applications and improving existing industrial processes.

It designs and engineers biologically based components, new devices and systems, and redesigns existing, natural biological systems.

At an event in Chicheley Hall in Buckinghamshire, Dstl showcased some of its synthetic biology applications, such as improved boron carbide armour and catalysts for fuel cells.


Image: Officials from UK's Dstl, SBLC and BIS. Photo: courtesy of Crown Copyright.