The James Watt Nanofabrication Centre at the University of Glasgow has been awarded £3M of equipment under the EPSRC Capital for Great Technologies awards to improve the energy efficiency performance of electronic and optoelectronic devices for a large range of applications.
Electronic and optoelectronics are ubiquitous in everyday life. We rely on Information, Communication Technology (ICT) systems such as computers, smart phones and the internet for the majority of our society needs. Food production, transportation and clothing manufacture now all rely on computers and the internet. Many cars have over 100 microprocessors to control not just the engine but climate control, seats, mirrors and entertainment systems along with keeping the driver and occupants safe at all times. All these systems are powered by electronic and optoelectronic devices.
As the number of electronic and optoelectronic devices inside ICT systems increases, so does their consumption of electricity. According to the SMART 2020  study, ''the share of ICT on the world wide energy consumption today is in the range of 2-5%. Given that the use of ICT will further increase and the overall energy consumption will hopefully decrease due to the help of ICT and other measures, it is expected that the share of ICT on the world wide energy consumption will grow in the future. Carbon dioxide emissions from the use of ICT is therefore presently increasing. Hence, it becomes more and more important to consider and improve the energy efficiency of ICT.''
The performance of these modern electronic and optoelectronic devices is dominated by their surfaces. Atomic bonds which should have been connected to nearest neighbour atoms ''dangle'' at the surfaces and form a plentiful source of unwanted electronic charge. The ''dangling bonds'' increase the energy consumption of electronic and optoelectronic devices through a range of unwanted parasitic mechanisms. The solution to this problem is to passivate the surface by coating it with a material which electrically ''heals'' the surface, giving it electrical properties more similar to the bulk semiconductor.
The James Watt Nanofabrication Centre at the EPSRC III-V National Facility and the STFC Kelvin-Rutherford Facility and in the last 5 years has undertaken collaborative research with 250 companies in 28 different countries including 55 UK companies. The centre also collaborates with 90 universities around the world including 48 in the Times Higher Education Top 100 Universities list.
The James Watt Nanofabrication Centre at the University of Glasgow has been awarded £3M of equipment under the electronic and optoelectronic devices to be developed. A range of funded projects will use the new equipment to develop applications where the energy efficiency of the devices is key for high performance and to aid in the reduction of ICT energy consumption and carbon emissions.
The equipment award is in collaboration with the Oxford Instruments, National Physical Laboratory, the National Microelectronics Institute and Gas Sensing Solutions. Hence the work will have direct commercial exploitation potential and routes through UK companies in addition to improving exports for UK manufacturing industry. Glasgow has a long reputation in the successful exploitation of research which goes all the way back to James Watt's invention and commercialisation of the condenser for the steam engine. 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. In addition to spinout formation, 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 to allow maximum benefit from funded research to the UK economy and society.
The new equipment will benefit a large range of academic and industrial projects at Glasgow. This includes:
Reference  ''SMART 2020: enabling the low carbon economy in the information age'' is a report published by ''The Climate Group'', an independent, not-for-profit organization. The report is available here: http://www.theclimategroup.org/_assets/files/Smart2020Report.pdf