Non-equilibrium science covers a broad range of challenges. For example, how do we control heating in fast electronic devices, or understand how next-generation solar cells might work? Can insights into extreme events in the sciences be used to detect whether a network of financial institutions is close to a crash? Can we predict the fate of cellular states in health and disease? How do we understand whether epidemics will spread, or predict the likelihood of extreme meteorological events? How do we optimize the design of nanoparticles to maximize efficiency in drug and gene delivery?  
 
Non-equilibrium systems can be defined as being irreversible, e.g. because they dissipate energy persistently pumped in from the outside, or they age towards an equilibrium state that is never reached. They also frequently exhibit extreme events, such as cascades of collective failure or the thermally activated rare event of a drug molecule being released from a vesicle. In contrast to phenomena at, or close to, equilibrium, our understanding of non-equilibrium systems is still in its infancy.  
 
As the examples above show, the challenge of understanding non-equilibrium systems is central to a wide variety of problems across the spectrum of physical, mathematical, biological and environmental sciences. The vision of CNES is that significant advances in non-equilibrium science will have to come from researchers capable of exploiting and enhancing these interdisciplinary links. The importance of the research area is underscored by the fact that non-equilibrium physics has been identified as a major Grand Challenge by both the EPSRC and the US Department of Energy. 
 
CNES also hosts the CANES (Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to Non-Equilibrium Systems) Centre for Doctoral Training. This innovative CDT bridges traditional disciplines and provides high quality training for a diverse body of PhD and MSc students. CANES brings together approximately 50 principal investigators from a range of Departments within King’s, including Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Informatics in the Faculty of Natural & Mathematical Sciences; Geography and War Studies in the Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy; and Cancer Studies, the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, and the Randall Division of Cell and Molecular Biophysics in the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine. CANES PhD projects span all cross-disciplinary interfaces within the CDT, including for example Mathematics / Informatics, Geography / Mathematics and Chemistry / Randall Division. CNES enhances these strong cross-disciplinary interactions to develop research partnerships with a critical mass of academic staff.