New cluster tool arrives in Glasgow
The James Watt Nanofabrication Centre in Glasgow, UK, has recently had the delivery of a cluster tool from Oxford Instruments purchased from a £3M EPSRC Capital for Great Technologies awards to improve the energy efficiency performance of electronic and optoelectronic devices for a large range of applications. The announcement of the award can be found in an older news item - click here
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:
- 1. EPSRC funded ''Silicon Compatible GaN Power Electronics'' developing energy efficient power electronics. Power electronics are crucial
to improving the battery life of a mobile phone & to maximising the efficiency of high-voltage transmission lines. They are found in railways & hybrid cars, in TVs & energy efficient lighting. Although not perhaps obvious, power electronics are vital to meeting the carbon dioxide reduction targets set by Government. The GaN on Si research in this proposal is aimed at supporting the UK power semiconductor industry which is 6.5% of the world manufacturing base of £135 Bn pa by delivering technology that could provide savings of up to 9% of the annual electricity generated in the UK (i.e. the equivalent power generated by 5 AGR nuclear reactors) and £1 trillion worldwide per annum.
- 2. EPSRC funded ''Scalable Solar Thermoelectrics and Photovoltaics''. The objective is to dramatically reduce the cost of large scale exploitation of solar energy and in so-doing massively reduce the carbon dioxide emissions associated with electrical and thermal power generation. The systems-led project will enhance state-of-the-art solar collection efficiency and simultaneously extend useful panel lifetime beyond 50 years. The proposal combines photovoltaic and thermoelectric technology with thermal storage and sophisticated energy management techniques to create an electrothermal panel with many novel features. Installed system capacity will be scalable, from several kW for domestic application to many MW for grid-connected infrastructure.
- 3. EPSRC funded ''Triple Wavelength Superspectral Camera Focal-Plane Array (SUPERCAMERA)''. The fusion of sensors is already widespread whereby image data from traditional visible and mid infrared (MIR) sensors is overlaid to provide a more revealing and data rich visualisation. Image fusion permits discrepancies to be identified and comparative processing to be performed. The aim is to create a "superspectral" imaging chip using similar technology to the cameras in mobile phones allowing cheap solutions. By superspectral we mean detection in widely different bands, as opposed to the discrimination of many wavelengths inside a band - e.g. red, green and blue in the visible band. The project is aiming to integrate cameras that operate at visible, mid- and far-infrared wavelengths. The mid- and far-infrared spectral regions provides information about chemical compositions and biological information which when combined with the visible information allows many new imaging modalities for healthcare, security and industrial applications.
- 4. TSB funded ''Novel light sources and detectors for mid-IR gas sensors powered by energy harvesting''. This industrial project with the Scottish SME Gas Sensing Solutions has developed mid-infrared gas detectors using antimonide semiconductors that use the molecular gas absorption lines to measure the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. These detectors are already on the market with a global customer base and research is now aiming to improve the energy efficiency so that battery lifetimes for the senors can be improved. Such measurements can be used to help control the environment in industry, buildings and homes to reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. Further mid-infrared sensors to detect carbon monoxide, methane and hydrocarbons are being developed and have applications in energy efficiency, safety and pollution monitoring.
Installation of the tool is now in progress and the tool is expected to be available for use by the end of the year.