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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R025304/1
Title: Nano-OPS Printer for High Rate Nano-Manufacturing and Support Equipment
Principal Investigator: Silva, Professor SRP
Other Investigators:
Tafazolli, Professor R Kearney, Professor M Sporea, Dr RA
Aaen, Dr PH
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Altro Ltd National Physical Laboratory QinetiQ
Department: ATI Electronics
Organisation: University of Surrey
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 February 2018 Ends: 31 January 2023 Value (£): 1,553,822
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Electronic Devices & Subsys.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Electronics Manufacturing
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
06 Dec 2017 EPSRC Strategic Equipment Interview Panel December 2017 (2) Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The Internet is expanding beyond the traditional computing and communications devices that we use daily to include any physical object in our environment. This expansion is known as the IoT. Next generation mobile communications networks will allow sensors attached to any object to share information about its local environment over the Internet. These sensors are being developed and initial versions that have been deployed are already making in-roads into retail, health-care, environmental and security monitoring. With large numbers of sensors in place, they enable a detailed understanding of our environment, which allows better monitoring and new types of control for higher living standards.

The IoT has the capacity to revolutionise individual lives, physical infrastructure, and the delivery of services at the global level. With this comes an estimated total potential economic impact of $3.9 to $11.1 trillion per year by 2025. However, to enable this, the cost of basic hardware must significantly decrease and an order of magnitude reduction in costs over conventional fabrication processes must be achieved [McKinsey, 2015]. Nanotechnology enables this cost reduction. Furthermore, the reduced dimensions render the technology unobtrusive and less energy intensive for both their device fabrication and operation. But, thus far a significant bottleneck has been the lack of a high-throughput and reliable nano-fabrication capabilities that render the processes suitable for scale-up and ultimately manufacture. The key technical challenge is to be able to fabricate devices at small enough geometry, in a highly repeatable manner, over very large area, using inexpensive processing, and can be scaled-up without loosing the performance advantages in the fabrication of the device systems.

The IoT will have a revolutionary role in defining next generation engineering and services. Our objective is to position the United Kingdom in a leadership position to define this future. To do this we propose to purchase a nano-manufacturing research tool that will enable us to pull-together the strongest possible team of users, designers and engineers to work as a team to produce multifunctional novel devices and systems via innovative fabrication research. The tool will help develop a nano-fabrication capability, which provides an inexpensive, high throughput, high-performance platform integrating sensors, actuators, communication, energy capture and storage functions with low power circuits. The platform will enable the design and prototyping a large variety of devices and sensors. Our project partners and supporters (some still to be connected) will employ these new scale-up capabilities to design, develop, and manufacture sensors for smart homes, vehicles, wearables, hospitals, and cities.

The e-Stamps fabricated using the process optimised Nano-OPS tool will be maximally energy efficient, will be enabled by the nano-scale device features that will open a new era in flexible electronic backplanes. These functions will be augmented by smart material interfaces that enable quasi-passive systems: for example a sensor that periodically updates an output that responds to interrogation by modulating a signal. There is also the challenge to harvest and store the energy to allow long-term autonomous operation of e-Stamps.

To achieve all these objectives requires a closely coupled team of researchers who can cover the range of materials science, device design & physics, device fabrication, characterisation, testing, and system integration. In addition we will in particular support SMEs through the lower technology readiness levels that require more research input and experience. We will help identify and mitigate risks through small-scale device fabrication, providing a more rapid prototyping route and will help define strategies to pull through to pilot scale.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.surrey.ac.uk