High resolution colour images in a ultra-thin phase-change film- ideal for flexible and roll-up display applications

Functional Materials research gets £20 million boost

Researchers at the University of Exeter are involved in two new projects that will advance the UK’s manufacturing capability, develop new and exciting functional materials, and accelerate the translation of the science of functional materials through to application.

A total of ten projects were announced today by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and welcomed by the Business Secretary.

Researchers from Exeter's Engineering department were successful in two bids and will now embark on a £3.1m project developing thin-film materials and novel manufacturing methods for wearable technology, and a £3.1m project revolutionizing the manufacture and use of specialised glass-like materials (chalcogenides).

In the 'Manufacturing and Application of Next Generation Chalcogenides' project, Professor David Wright will work as part of a team of researchers from Southampton, Cambridge, Oxford, Exeter and Heriot-Watt universities, along with 16 industrial partners, to develop new forms of chalcogenide materials for applications in fibre-optic communications, electronic and photonic memories.

In the 'Wearable and flexible technologies enabled by advanced thin-film manufacture and metrology' project, Professors David Wright and Gino Hrkac will work with a consortium comprising researchers from Oxford, Southampton and Exeter universities, along with eight industrial partners, to develop roll-to-roll manufacturing techniques (similar to those currently used to produce crisp packets) for application in the production of low-cost flexible electronics for sensing, display and power generation applications.

Overall seventeen universities are involved in the ten EPSRC projects and, combined with universities’ contributions and those from industry partners, the total value is £32.1 million. Total funding for Exeter amounts to around £750,000.

Professor David Wright of the University of Exeter said:“These projects will develop materials and manufacturing processes to enable faster, lower-power and cheaper ways to store, sense, communicate and display information – progress essential  to our smart, interconnected world.”

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, 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.”


Date: 19 December 2014

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