Computer chips

Computer chips

University of Surrey to open £4m nano-manufacturing hub

The University of Surrey is set to open a new nano-manufacturing hub, kickstarting the UK’s smart device revolution.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has awarded £1.6m to the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) and the 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) at the University of Surrey to establish a hub that will make the manufacturing of smart materials and self-powered electronics a reality in the UK.

The £4.2m project, supported by 32 partner organisations, was co-developed with QinetiQ and the National Physical Laboratory (NPL). 

The University of Surrey will use some of the funds to purchase the innovative NanoOPS printer, designed by Northeastern University, that will give the hub the ability to produce plastic nanoscale electronics suitable for devices such as wearable sensors, electronic tags, and various wireless technologies.

The NanoOPS printer removes the bottleneck in high-throughput and reliable nano-fabrication manufacturing. The hub will be able to reduce, by a factor of ten, the cost of manufacturing plastic electronics, supporting the development of internet-of-things (IoT) devices for smart-homes, smart-cities, and smart factories.

Prof Max Lu, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Surrey, said: “One of our main goals at the University of Surrey is to produce research that can make a positive contribution to society and impact industries across the globe.

“I am confident that this collaboration between our world-class facilities – the 5G Innovation Centre and Advance Technology Institute – and private businesses will be a tremendous success and pave the way for future innovation in nano-technology.”

Prof Ravi Silva, director of the ATI and the new nano-manufacturing Hub, added: “This is an exciting project for the University of Surrey and our partners. We will develop new technologies and techniques that will allow us to make the dream of a fully wireless smart home or smart factory commonplace in the UK.”

Prof Sajad Haq, chief scientist, advanced services and products at QinetiQ, said: “This new high-rate facility will make the manufacturing of inexpensive tagging and tracking devices that are unobtrusive and autonomous possible. These can provide real-time data in many environments critical for asset management.”

Dr Fernando Castro, principal scientist at NPL, said: “This investment is an invaluable step forward in positioning the UK as a global competitor in advanced manufacturing and IoT.

“The hub, combined with our innovative measurement and data analysis, will provide the confidence in new advanced manufacturing processes, and the adoption of materials and sensors into industry.”

The new facilities are expected to be operational in third-quarter of 2018.