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Southampton to share in ?20 million to advance UK's manufacturing capability

Published: 19 December 2014
Chalcogenides being produced

The University of Southampton is to share in ?20 million of funding to advance the UK's manufacturing capability. It will lead two of ten new research projects announced today (19 December) by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The Chalcogenide Advanced Manufacturing partnership (ChAMP) is a partnership between the University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) and the Universities of Exeter, Oxford, Cambridge and Heriot-Watt, along with 15 industrial partners. Southampton will receive £3.1 million to revolutionise the manufacture and use of specialised glass, called chalcogenides, in a range of products from optical fibre and infrared lenses to electronic devices, including logic and memory.

The University’s Composite Material Facility, unique to the UK, will also help to develop and manufacture radically new and advanced materials.

Professor Dan Hewak who is leading the group says: “We are fortunate to have several world-leading scientists join us in this partnership to address the manufacturing research challenges in developing applications, production technologies and future processes that incorporate these advanced functional materials.

“This is the culmination of almost 25 years of research into novel glasses by the ORC.”

The other project ‘Novel manufacturing methods for functional electronic textiles’ will receive £2.8 million to develop novel manufacturing methods for wearable technology. It will be led by Professor Steve Beeby from Electronics and Computer Science and also involves Nottingham Trent University and a number of industry partners.

Professor Beeby says: “This project presents a fantastic opportunity to further the developments we have made towards the practical integration of electronics and sensing functionality in textiles. Nottingham Trent bring highly complementary expertise in yarn and textile manufacture to the project and, with the assistance of our industrial partners, we hope to achieve some real impact from this research.”

Welcoming the announcement Business Secretary, Vince Cable, said: “Working with academia and industry to support game-changing manufacturing projects like these is at the heart of the Government’s industrial strategy. By supporting the jump from the manufacturing lab to the market place, we are driving innovation, creating valuable new jobs and delivering economic growth that will secure the UK’s global leadership for decades to come.”

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s CEO and former Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Southampton, said: “These grants for Functional Materials research will take advantage of the excellent capability that exists across the UK. The level of partnership between universities and industry means they are well positioned to advance the exploitation of the knowledge and discoveries of our pioneering scientists and engineers. These are really exciting projects that can add to the long term prosperity of our country.”

Notes for editors

ChAMP involves the following industrial partners: Fibrecore; Glass Technology Services; Lenton; M-Squared Lasers; Samsung Electronics; Plastic Logic; SEPNET; Oxford Instruments; Gooch & Housgo; National Instruments Corp (UK); Chell Instruments; NPL; Ilika; Qioptiq; Seagate technology; DSTL.

Novel manufacturing methods for functional electronic textiles involves the following industrial partners: Centre for Process Innovation; Plessey, BSN Medical; International Automotive Components, Stretchline, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine; Speedo; Medicity; Urgo Ltd; DSTL

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