Funding aims to put UK at forefront of functional materials developments

Southampton University is leading two projects to advance the UK’s manufacturing capability.

The projects are among eight others that have received £20m in funding from EPSRC to investigate functional materials.

The Chalcogenide Advanced Manufacturing partnership (ChAMP) is a partnership between the University’s Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) and the Universities of Exeter, Oxford, Cambridge and Heriot-Watt, along with 15 industrial partners.

Southampton will receive £3.1m to transform the manufacture and use of chalcogenides, a specialised form of glass that can be used in products ranging from optical fibre and infrared lenses to electronic devices, including logic and memory.

The University’s Composite Material Facility will also help to develop and manufacture new and advanced materials.

In a statement, group leader Prof Dan Hewak said: ‘We are fortunate to have several world-leading scientists join us in this partnership to address the manufacturing research challenges in developing applications, production technologies and future processes that incorporate these advanced functional materials.’

The other project ‘Novel manufacturing methods for functional electronic textiles’ will receive £2.8m to develop novel manufacturing methods for wearable technology. It will be led by Prof Steve Beeby from Electronics and Computer Science and also involves Nottingham Trent University and a number of industry partners.

Prof Beeby said: ‘This project presents a fantastic opportunity to further the developments we have made towards the practical integration of electronics and sensing functionality in textiles. Nottingham Trent bring highly complementary expertise in yarn and textile manufacture to the project and, with the assistance of our industrial partners, we hope to achieve some real impact from this research.’