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NPL extends strategic relationship with the Advanced Technology Institute, Surrey for a further three years

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington has awarded a £350k grant to the Nano-Electronics Centre (NEC), based within the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) at the University of Surrey.

This will further extend the contract signed in 2005, which included the appointment of a visiting NPL Strategic Research Fellow to work jointly between Surrey and NPL. The work undertaken under an umbrella Memorandum of Understanding is to exploit new and future technological advances in the area of Nano Probes and their application in metrological research. The initial grant enabled the state-of-the-art nano-fabrication facilities and expertise within Surrey to complement the unique talents of the Quantum Metrology Group at NPL in looking at next generation standards in this rapidly evolving field.

The recently announced grant, awarded for work on 'Advanced Nanofabrication Techniques', will allow Dr David Cox, the NPL Strategic Fellow at Surrey, to continue the highly successful programme for the fabrication of nano-electronic and mechanical devices with NPL colleagues. New nano-fabrication techniques are being developed to produce devices with a wide variety of applications. In some cases the work will lead to the development of new standards of measurement, such as the measurement of quantised electrical current conduction. In other areas new or improved devices for carrying out existing measurements will be created. An example of this is a new family of ultra low-noise superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUID) for measuring magnetic fields. These nanoSQUIDs have recently been shown to be the lowest noise devices of their type ever made, and will demonstrate the most sensitive magnetic measurements ever carried out at easily achievable temperatures.

Dr David Cox said: “This is a great opportunity to continue with truly exciting science in many different areas. In any one week I could be working in areas as diverse as superconductivity, nanomagnetism, nanomechanical resonators or even completely new areas of science.”

Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the Advanced Technology Institute and Director of the Nano-Electronics Centre at Surrey commented: “The work we have performed during the initial contract placed with Surrey over the last three years has been an unrivalled success. The ‘dream team’ of NPL and ATI scientists working together has allowed us to compete at the highest level, and also helped us leverage further funding. We are now looking at ways of extending this relationship further by working together on potential exploitation strategies.”

Professor Kamal Hossain, Director of Research at NPL added: “We have always seen the value of working closely with academia on cutting edge research. Programmes such as these have helped catalyse much larger grants and mould research programmes of national importance. We are only interested in working with the very best scientists around the world, tackling some of the most challenging issues in research and society today”.

Nanotechnology and the exploitation of material and system properties in this length scale will be of huge significance to the industrial community. Materials and devices with nanometre dimensions (approximately one ten thousandth the diameter of a human hair) exhibit wonderful new properties, such as incredible strength or thermal and electrical conductivities, not seen in larger objects in our more familiar everyday world. It is expected to impact on society in general in the form of new products and services in the very near future in many diverse areas such as ultra-fast computing, advances in medical imaging and security applications. Nanotechnology promises to bring a revolution in terms of efficiency, cost reductions and to enhance manufacturing capabilities. The ATI at Surrey is one of the leading groups worldwide in exploiting material properties in the nanoscale to produce application specific devices with enhanced capabilities.

Stuart Miller | alfa
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