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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

UK announces £3.6 million for UK manufacturing research on using light in new ways

10 January, 2014
Research projects which will explore how light can be used in new ways in innovative manufacturing processes and technologies have been awarded £3.6 million. Vince Cable, UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills announced the funding as he toured M Squared, a laser development company, in Glasgow.

The funding, from The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, (EPSRC), will be used to fund a number of 18-month feasibility studies that aim to advance core science towards manufacturing in diverse sectors including pharmaceuticals, chemicals, electronics and security. Cable said: “This new funding will develop research to support the UK’s growing manufacturing sector which already employs around 2.5 million people. This early stage research will give businesses such as M Squared a great opportunity to develop new technologies to create more effective and efficient manufacturing processes.


 


“The Government's industrial strategy is giving business the confidence to invest, delivering skilled jobs and driving growth in Scotland and across the UK. We must not stand still and risk being left behind in the future.”


 


Examples of the 14 projects include:



  • investigations into laser-guided positioning of living cells to aid pharmaceutical testing


  • using novel photochemistry to take chemical processes from the laboratory to commercial plants


  • controlling electronic forces using light patterns to assemble electronic components into circuits


  • using lasers themselves as a growth technique to create high-power laser devices that can be adopted by the UK manufacturing sector. 



David Delpy, Chief Executive of The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, said: “These projects demonstrate how research into the fundamental science and engineering of optical phenomena can have a significant impact in manufacturing and also shows how well the UK academic base works with industry to enable the UK to benefit from fundamental discoveries.”


 


Professor Sir David Payne, Director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton and a founder of SPI Lasers said: “The UK remains a major manufacturing nation and this new EPSRC initiative will help us stay ahead of the competition. Photonics – where light meets electronics – is a key UK strength and these new projects demonstrate the astonishing range of innovative ideas that emerge when scientists and engineers think about manufacturing. The key is to work with industry and understand the opportunity not only to improve existing manufacturing methods, but to develop entirely new ways to make things.” 

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