Clients & Inventions

Want to work with some of the world’s most innovative companies?

GJE’s clients range from budding entrepreneurs to global household names; and it’s this variety which makes GJE a unique and stimulating place to work. Read on for an inside scoop of one of our client projects as told by Jack Severs, Technical Assistant (IT and Engineering).


(Credit: CERN)

CERN

Having worked in academia before joining GJE, including a research placement working for CERN, I was excited to have the opportunity to work with them as a client shortly after joining the firm to work on the cutting edge technologies which underpin their scientific breakthroughs.

Many people will have heard of CERN through the research carried out at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) – the largest and most complex experimental facility ever built. The LHC consists of a huge particle accelerator located in a 27km circular tunnel buried 100m below ground near Geneva and is used to collide high energy particles to probe the fundamental properties of matter. The research carried out at the LHC was publicised widely when the Nobel Prize was awarded for the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2013 which confirmed important theories of particle physics developed many years earlier.

Such is the size and complexity of the experiments developed at CERN that, in addition to these ground-breaking scientific breakthroughs, many new innovations in engineering and data handling have taken place in order to meet the unprecedented operational challenges. A notable example of this is the development of the World Wide Web which began at CERN in 1989 to facilitate the sharing of the vast amounts of data produced by the experiments and marked the start of the internet age. More recent examples include the many new breakthroughs in the fields of radiation detectors, materials science and cryogenics. The latter were required in order to meet the engineering challenge of supplying 120 tonnes of liquid helium to the superconducting magnets of the LHC and maintain them at a temperature below that of outer space (-271.3°C), forming the largest cryogenic system on Earth.

CERN has recognised that commercialising these new technological breakthroughs is an important way to support their primary academic endeavours and has chosen GJE to work together to help them identify and gain the broadest protection for the new inventions which arise out of their research. I have had the opportunity to work on many such inventions at different stages of this process. My work has involved providing opinions on the patentability of proposed new technologies, drafting and filing new applications in which these technologies are carefully defined and arguing for the strongest protection for these inventions before the patent office. I have also travelled out to Geneva to meet with the knowledge transfer team there and discuss the latest technologies being developed. Examples of the technology areas include new particle detector systems which could have applications in medical devices, solar energy devices and new breakthroughs in laser alignment which are a by-product of the unique precision requirements in the alignment of the detector components of the LHC.

Being able to work closely with the cutting-edge technology which supports the fundamental research carried out at CERN is both intellectually challenging and hugely rewarding. I particularly enjoy gaining a broad view of the latest developments across many technology areas which you do not experience from the very narrow and focussed approach necessary in academia.