Research projects which will explore how light can be used in new ways in innovative manufacturing processes and technologies have been awarded 3.6 million. Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills announced the funding as he toured M Squared, a laser development company, in Glasgow.
The funding, from The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, (EPSRC), will be used to fund a number of 18-month feasibility studies that aim to advance core science towards manufacturing in diverse sectors including pharmaceuticals, chemicals, electronics and security.
Mr Cable said: "This new funding will develop research to support the UK's growing manufacturing sector which already employs around 2.5 million people. This early stage research will give businesses such as M Squared a great opportunity to develop new technologies to create more effective and efficient manufacturing processes.
"The Government's industrial strategy is giving business the confidence to invest, delivering skilled jobs and driving growth in Scotland and across the UK. We must not stand still and risk being left behind in the future." Examples of the 14 projects include investigations into laser-guided positioning of living cells to aid pharmaceutical testing; using novel photochemistry to take chemical processes from the laboratory to commercial plants; controlling electronic forces using light patterns to assemble electronic components into circuits and using lasers themselves as a growth technique to create high-power laser devices that can be adopted by the UK manufacturing sector.
David Delpy, Chief Executive of The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council said: "These projects demonstrate how research into the fundamental science and engineering of optical phenomena can have a significant impact in manufacturing and also shows how well the UK academic base works with industry to enable the UK to benefit from fundamental discoveries."
Professor Sir David Payne, Director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton and a founder of SPI Lasers said: "The UK remains a major manufacturing nation and this new EPSRC initiative will help us stay ahead of the competition. Photonics where light meets electronics is a key UK strength and these new projects demonstrate the astonishing range of innovative ideas that emerge when scientists and engineers think about manufacturing. The key is to work with industry and understand the opportunity not only to improve existing manufacturing methods, but to develop entirely new ways to make things."
The projects include:
University Lead Academic Project Industry Partners and Grant numbers
Andrew Alexander University of Edinburgh Laser-induced nucleation for crystallisation of high-value materials in continuous manufacturing processes EP/L022397/1
Lee Buttery University of Nottingham Rapid assembly of living micro-tissues with holographic optical tweezers; Cell 'LEGO' for regenerative medicine EP/L022095/1
Joao Cabral Imperial College London FPP3D: Coupling frontal photopolymerisation and interfacial wrinkling for single shot 3D patterning EP/L022176/1
Paul Chalker University of Liverpool Photochemical ALD to manufacture functional thin films Qioptiq, Nanoco, Victre, Centre for Process Innovation; Knowledge Centre Materials Chemistry, SAFC Hitech. EP/L02201X/1
Richard Curry University of Surrey Laser-induced Photochemistry in Continuous Flow Reactors EP/L022168/1 Marc Desmulliez Heriot-Watt University Photosynthesis-inspired manufacturing of metal patterns (photobioform) Merlin Circuits EP/L022192/1
Robert Eason University of Southampton Lasers making Lasers M-Squared; ELforLight EP/L021390/1
Robert Eason University of Southampton Digital Multimirror Devices for laser-based Manufacturing Laser Micromaching Ltd, DeLa Rue International Ltd EP/L022230/1
Andrew Holmes Imperial College London Laser-Generated Ultrasound for Thermosonic Bonding GE Aviation, SPI Lasers Ltd EP/L02232X/1
Rob Lovitt Swansea University Internally lit photobioreactors for enhanced product formation from algae using LED systems: Energy transformed into high value chemical products Viking Fish Farms Ltd EP/L022389/1
Michael McDonald University of Dundee Scale up of optical fractionation for bio-processing EP/L022370/1
Andrew Moore Heriot-Watt University Photoelasticity for opaque objects EP/L022249/1 Renishaw
Steven Neale University of Glasgow Assembly of electronic components with Optoelectronic Tweezers EP/L022257/1
Martyn Poliakoff University of Nottingham Continuous Chemical Manufacture with Light (C2ML) EP/L021889/1
CIKTN, Britest Ltd, GSK, AstraZeneca, SanofiAventis, Enlumo Ltd,HEL Ltd, Uniqsis Ltd, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Syngenta Ltd, Thomas Swan & Co
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Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council