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Glasgow University wins £3m grant for opto-electrical research

24 Jul 2013

Projects to focus on solar conversion, energy efficiency and power systems.

The University of Glasgow has been awarded a £3m ($4.6m) share of £85m ($135m) new UK Government funding for equipment to support pioneering research to improve the efficiency of electronic and optical components.

The research projects include developing advanced processes on multiple commercial micro- and nano-fabrication tools manufactured in the UK by Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology that can be transferred directly into companies for production.

Announced last week by David Willetts, UK Minister for Universities and Science, the award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council will support work undertaken by researchers from the University of Glasgow’s College of Science and Engineering in collaboration with Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology, the UK's National Physical Laboratory, the National Microelectronics Institute and Gas Sensing Solutions.

The funding will allow Glasgow University to purchase new equipment including several tools from Oxford Instruments Plasma Technology to etch semiconductor materials and deposit electrically insulating layers, techniques used to fabricate high performance electronic and optical devices including transistors, LEDs and lasers.

Professor Douglas Paul, Director of the University’s James Watt Nanofabrication Centre, who led the funding bid, said, “Glasgow has a long history of successful exploitation of research which goes all the way back to James Watt’s invention and commercialisation of the condenser for the steam engine, and this award will help us continue that proud tradition. We’re pleased that the EPSRC accepted our funding bid and we’re looking forward to helping support the UK’s efforts to become a more energy-efficient nation.”

The equipment will support a range of new research projects including: developing more efficient power electronics, which could improve the lifespan of batteries in many consumer electronic devicest; improving the efficiency and durability of solar collection technology, intended to cut the cost of exploitation of solar energy; and development of a superspectral imaging camera which will integrate visible, infrared and mid-infrared imaging sensors on a single chip for the first time.

Multispectral imaging systems typically feature a few spectral bands, each sensitive to radiation within a narrow wavelength band. In contrast, superspectral sensors have many more spectral channels (typically >10). Its bands have narrower bandwidths, enabling the finer spectral characteristics of the targets to be captured by the sensor, offering applications in security and medical sensing technologies.

About the Author

Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org.

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