EPSRC logo

Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/E023614/1
Title: IKC in Advanced Manufacturing Technologies for Photonics and Electronics - Exploiting Molecular and Macromolecular Materials [MMM]
Principal Investigator: White, Professor I
Other Investigators:
Hughes, Professor A Coles, Professor HJ Penty, Professor R
Milne, Professor WI Probert, Mr D Oliver, Professor N
Gregory, Professor Sir M Friend, Professor Sir R Amaratunga, Professor G
Flewitt, Dr AJ Scholtes, Professor S Sirringhaus, Professor H
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Advance Nano Tech Inc Alps Electric UK Ltd Dupont
Merck Ltd Plastic Logic Ltd
Department: Engineering
Organisation: University of Cambridge
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 12 January 2007 Ends: 11 January 2012 Value (£): 5,172,360
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Electronic Devices & Subsys. Optical Devices & Subsystems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Electronics
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
A transformation is currently underway in a large range of computer and sensing technologies, displays and communication systems with the introduction of new low cost, flexible molecular and macromolecular materials. These materials, which encompass polymers, advanced liquid crystals, and nanostructures, including carbon and silicon nanowires, are set to have a disruptive impact on current technologies not only because of their cost/performance advantages, but also because they can be manufactured in more flexible ways, provide more functionality and be engineered for a wider range of applications. The new materials have a strong research base in the UK, are suitable for a wide range of commercial concerns, both large and small, and hence provide an important opportunity for UK plc. At Cambridge there has been considerable research and development into these materials in recent years, with a range of world leading results having been achieved, which have in turn been exploited, in more than 15 spin-outs to date. The market penetration of soft materials into microelectronics and photonics however has only just begun, and with a market estimate measured in $10's of billion per annum, it is certain that the UK must capitalise on its strength in the basic science. There is an urgent need for the development of advanced manufacturing technologies using new macromolecular material systems and valid exploitation models. What the UK lacks is a dedicated centre of excellence that can act as a repository of expertise, developing both clear and differentiated core competencies, together with providing a knowledge development and transfer role. Success here will critically depend upon early traction between those in research and those in commercial exploitation. It will also rely on funding of products right through to pilot production for the first time, the lack of which has been a barrier to commercialisation and hence has limited exploitation in this field in the past. This proposal therefore seeks to create a new molecular and macromolecular materials (MMM) IKC. This will bring together the main research activities in the field at Cambridge, namely in the Electrical Engineering Division (in particular within the Centre for Advanced Electronics and Photonics, CAPE) and in the Cavendish. Together this research spans the MMM field and is recognised as having a world-leading position. A key to this proposed IKC however is that it will also allow much greater interaction and collaboration with those in business than has previously been possible for EPSRC funded research activities. Hence the IKC, if awarded, would allow the creation of tightly focussed commercialisation activities jointly with the Judge Business School, the Institute of Manufacturing (including the EPSRC Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre) and the Centre for Business Research. These will allow the creation of a range of innovative knowledge transfer activities spanning business research, training and specific product exploitation. Finally, the Centre will also allow the secondment of researchers from industry and other universities to the IKC, specifically for knowledge transfer (as opposed to research), and in its later stages make use of the provision of pilot manufacturing lines for prototyping. Reciprocal arrangements will also ensure that academics learn the key features of and improve their effectiveness in exploitation themselves.
Key Findings
This grant funded the initial period of the Cambridge Integrated Knowledge Centre (CIKC) to form a centre of excellence for low temperature processing using macromolecular materials, such as polymers, liquid crystals and nanostructures, for applications in computer technologies, displays and communications. The work of CIKC has continued to develop beyond the end of the award. CIKC facilitates the commercial exploitation of emerging research and technology in flexible and distributed electronics through the provision of infrastructure for scalable manufacturing processes, funding of application demonstrators to validate commercial concepts and reduce the technical risk of transfer to industry, and provision of business development resource to identify the best opportunities for exploitation.

CIKC combines macromolecular materials research in Electrical Engineering and the Cavendish Laboratory with the expertise of the Judge Business School, the Institute for Manufacturing and the Centre for Business Research, to create innovative knowledge exchange activities spanning business research, training and technology exploitation.

The technology developed by CIKC, in collaboration with industry partners, includes

• a scalable manufacturing process for organic transistors using self-aligned inkjet printing with high yield (90-100%) and good uniformity over an array of 70 TFTs, allowing the fabrication of simple circuits.

• a technology to “integrate” polymer waveguides, electronics and optoelectronics on a circuit board, and the realisation of a 10Gb/s transceiver circuit and an on-board 4x10Gb/s link using this approach

• a roll-to-roll printing process technology for organic photovoltaic devices which led to the formation of a spin-off company to exploit the technology.

• a lamination process for reflective liquid crystal displays on plastic panels up to A4 sizes, together with UV durable colourants and the production of stacked cells allows full colour plastic displays.

• novel sputtering processes to deposit high quality transparent metal oxide materials at temperatures compatible with using plastic substrates for large area electronic devices.

• a state of the art fabrication line for liquid crystal on silicon devices which was commissioned and produced phase-only holography devices for video projection and telecommunications.

CIKC also sought to improve the process of commercialising early stage research through our “Commercialisation Laboratory” which addressed structural issues in our sector in the UK and surveyed best practice in intermediate organisations worldwide - a key policy input in the launch of the Catapult centres.

CIKC projects made 98 invited presentations and 52 peer reviewed papers, over half with industry authors. 25 new projects were initiated from CIKC projects and we also funded 13 small scale feasibility studies. 39 postdoctoral researchers and 9 PhD students were involved in CIKC projects and 215 young researchers attended CIKC training in entrepreneurship and innovation.

CIKC has had a very strong interaction with industry with 45 industrial partners involved in CIKC projects and 28 others involved in follow-up projects. The CIKC model is effective in generating economic value from academic science and technology and producing high-calibre young scientists and engineers for industry. CIKC projects have produced significant intellectual property, transferred technology to industry partners and contributed to the formation of two spin-off companies with others under consideration.

Potential use in non-academic contexts
No information has been submitted for this grant.
Impacts
No information has been submitted for this grant.
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
Electronics; Innovation; Manufacturing
Project URL: http://www.cikc.org.uk
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.cam.ac.uk