University of Glasgow receives major grant for engineering research

Issued: Thu, 17 Oct 2013 16:33:00 BST

The University of Glasgow has been awarded a share of £85m in new funding for equipment to support pioneering research to improve the efficiency of electronic and optical components.

The University’s £3m award from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) was announced by UK Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts at the Global Intelligent Systems conference in London today (Wednesday 17 July). 

A total of 21 projects led by UK universities, focusing on advanced materials, grid-scale energy storage, and robotics and autonomous systems, will share in the funding.

The award will support work undertaken by researchers from the University of Glasgow’s College of Science and Engineering in collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory, the National Microelectronics Institute and Gas Sensing Solutions. The project is developing advanced processes on commercial micro- and nano-fabrication tools that can be transferred directly into companies for production.

The funding will allow the University to purchase new equipment including tools to etch semiconductor materials and deposit electrically insulating layers, techniques used to fabricate high performance electronic and optical devices including transistors, LEDs and lasers. The equipment will support a range of new research projects including:

  • The development of more efficient power electronics, which could improve the lifespan of batteries in many consumer electronic devices as well as reduce their carbon footprint;
  • Improving the efficiency and durability of solar collection technology, creating a dramatic reduction in the cost of large-scale exploitation of solar energy;
  • The development of a ‘superspectral’ imaging camera which will integrate visible, infrared and mid-infrared imaging sensors on a single chip for the first time, with applications for security and medical sensing technology;
  • An industrial project with Scottish SME Gas Sensing Solutions to further improve the energy efficiency of previously-developed infrared gas detectors which measure the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. These detectors are used to help monitor the environment in industry, buildings and homes to help reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

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.

“Recent start-ups related to the research on which this award is based include Intellemetrics, Intense, Kymata, Kelvin Nanotechnology, Gold Standard Simulations, Mode Diagnostics and Xanic. The University of Glasgow also pioneered the use of Easy Access IP, a fast-track route for the transfer of knowledge and experience from universities into industry, maximizing the benefits of funded research for the UK economy and society.

“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.”

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: "For Britain to get ahead in the global race we have to back emerging technologies and ensure our universities have the latest equipment. This capital investment will help scientists make new discoveries and take their research through to commercial success. It will drive growth and support the Government’s industrial strategy."