Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton

Southampton expert in e-textiles awarded Chair in Emerging Technologies

Published: 2 October 2020
Professor Steve Beeby
Professor Steve Beeby has been awarded a prestigious Chair in Emerging Technologies.

One of the world’s foremost experts on electronic textiles and energy harvesting at the University of Southampton has been awarded a prestigious Chair in Emerging Technologies by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Professor Steve Beeby, who leads the Smart Electronic Materials and Systems (SEMS) group in the School of Electronics and Computer Science at Southampton, is one of just eight UK-based researchers to share funding worth a total of £22 million to support disruptive innovations with the potential to considerably benefit society and the UK economy. Others named are from Imperial College, the Universities of Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool and Nottingham. 

Professor Beeby and his colleagues are developing electronic textiles into a practical platform technology for wearable applications and beyond. His research will exploit printed active materials, flexible circuit technologies and textile engineering to integrate sensing, electronic and energy harvesting/storage functionality within a single textile. This will create reliable e-textile systems that are invisible to the user and require minimal intervention for a range of health and work-related applications.

“I’m delighted to receive the award of this Chair which fully acknowledges and reaffirms Southampton’s place as the UK-leader in the e-textiles domain,” said Professor Beeby whose research has led to two spinout companies and over 300 publications. “We are clearly at the forefront of the research, development and application of technology that integrates true electronic and sensing functionality into textiles. In terms of a reliable and robust approach to e-textiles, I haven’t seen anything that is more advanced than we are and that will only continue thanks, in part, to the Royal Academy for Engineering.”

“We all come into contact with textiles every day of our lives – in our clothes, inside our homes and in our cars – which makes fabrics an ideal platform technology that can, for example, monitor our health and support healthy ageing, make us safer and more visible at night and improve our technique when taking part in sports activities.” said Professor Beeby. “However, the properties of a textiles and their method of manufacture mean they are very challenging when we try to incorporate electronic and sensing functionality. Also, there is currently no alternative to using conventional batteries to power e-textiles and these are incompatible with the nature of a fabric. We are working to overcome these many challenges to deliver robust and effective e-textiles systems that we will all use on a daily basis in the not-too-distant future.”

Professor Beeby follows in the footsteps of Southampton colleagues, Professor Susan Gourvenec (Intelligent and Resilient Ocean Engineering) and Professor Themis Prodromakis (Memristive Technologies for Lifelong Learning Embedded AI Hardware), who were both awarded Chairs in Emerging Technologies in 2019.

Professor Mark E Smith, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: “I warmly congratulate Professor Beeby on winning this prestigious award. It continues Southampton’s success in this scheme. It also shows the strength of our research in these disciplines and how our research is developing the technologies that tomorrow’s society will depend upon.”

Professor Philip Nelson, Dean of Southampton's Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, added: “Professor Beeby is fully deserving of this award which underlines the unique nature of his work in a field where he has achieved so  much already and where many more many benefits are to be realised going forward. He also joins an elite group, alongside his Southampton colleagues, in achieving this Chair in Emerging Technologies which recognises the truly world-leading status of our research in Engineering and Physical Sciences.”

The Chairs in Emerging Technologies scheme is made possible through funding from the UK’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Privacy Settings