Major collaboration unveiled on cutting-edge electronics

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13 Dec 2010 11:46:00.000


A major new industrial collaboration will drive forward the research and manufacturing of cutting-edge electronics at The University of Nottingham.

A new partnership in the area of microwave semiconductor devices has been unveiled by e2v — a leading global provider of specialised solutions, subsystems and components — and academics at the University.

The aim of the new collaboration is to develop and manufacture advanced semiconductor devices for use in microwave and terahertz applications, helping to keep the East Midlands at the forefront of a field with scores of applications in industrial, commercial and domestic markets.

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Funding of £1m from e2v will see a new purpose-built cleanroom built at the School of Physics and Astronomy on University Park, housing the e2v semiconductor fabrication facility.

e2v engineers will also have access to the existing nano-fabrication facilities within the school, as well as the wide range of advanced materials characterization instruments available on campus. Physicists at Nottingham will also have access to the e2v fabrication tools.

Dr Chris Mellor, principal investigator of the new collaboration for the University, said: “This collaboration enables the manufacture of cutting edge electronics in the East Midlands to continue. We look forward to working with e2v to develop the next generation of devices based on our existing expertise in III-V semiconductor physics.”

e2v has been manufacturing electronic devices in the East Midlands for almost 50 years. Following a restructuring of its manufacturing operations in Lincoln, microwave semiconductor device fabrication will be conducted in a new facility at The University of Nottingham.

This will enable close collaboration with researchers in the School of Physics and Astronomy and help e2v to develop the next generation of microwave electronic devices. An example of this is a range of devices known as P-i-N diodes, which are used in sensitive microwave receiver systems. The collaboration’s initial focus will be to develop new devices which have a much faster response time than currently available and can work over wider frequency ranges.

RF/microwave frequency sources used in radar imaging, as well as mixers and detectors used in the receive chain, are also high on the agenda for the collaboration. Applications of these sources include motorway traffic monitoring, large area security imaging and lightweight radar systems for un-piloted airborne vehicles (UAVs). In addition, the scope of work on novel devices will extend to sub-millimetre wave and beyond, where there is a strong interest in devices for high-resolution imagers which can ‘see’ through other materials such as clothing or buildings.

Professor Laurence Eaves, of the School of Physics and Astronomy, said: “This is an exciting development for physics at Nottingham. Having an internationally-recognised company working in our lab here offers exciting prospects for translating fundamental research in semiconductor materials and devices into new technology.”

The collaboration will see a financial contribution of more than £1 million from e2v, with significant match funding from the University, and will position the two partners at the forefront of developments in microwave device fabrication.

Dr Nigel Priestley, Chief Engineer at e2v, said: “This is an excellent example of industry and academia making the decision to collaborate at both the research level and device realisation level. We will now be able to harness specialised semiconductor knowledge from both organisations and work together to provide new exciting solutions for the e2v business and customers.”

Professor Richard Bowtell, Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy said: “The collaboration with e2v is an important development for research in our School, while the strong link with an industrial partner should open up new opportunities for our undergraduate and postgraduate students.”

The collaboration extends e2v’s relationship with the University, where the e2v centre for industrial microwave processing (CIMP) focuses on the commercialisation of innovative technologies developed at the University.

It further strengthens The University of Nottingham’s portfolio of successful technology transfer partnerships, which currently includes other industry leaders such as Rolls Royce plc, Siemens and BAE Systems.

— Ends —

Notes to editors:

e2v is a leading global provider of technology solutions for high performance systems; delivering solutions, sub-systems and components, to advanced systems companies, for specialist applications within medical & science, aerospace & defence, and commercial & industrial markets.

e2v is headquartered in the UK, employs approximately 1,500 people, has design and production facilities across Europe and North America, and has a global network of sales and technical support offices. For the year ended March 31 2010, e2v reported sales of over £200m and is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

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The University of Nottingham, described by The Times as “the nearest Britain has to a truly global university”, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 39,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

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Story credits

More information is available from Dr Chris Mellor, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 951 5147,; Jessica Broom in the e2v press office on +44 (0)1245 453607,
Tim Utton

Tim Utton - Deputy Director of Communications

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8092 Location: University Park

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