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UK to lead the development of functional materials with new funding


A £20m cash injection from EPSRC will provide a funding springboard for a number of new projects to investigate functional materials.


Southampton University will be leading two of the projects aimed at advancing the UK’s manufacturing capability.


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 other industrial partners.


From the £20m pot, Southampton will receive around £3.1m with the goal of transforming the manufacture and use of chalcogenides. Chalcogenide glass is a glass containing one or more chalcogenide elements (not counting oxygen). The specialised glass can be used in many wide ranging products for example optical discs, phase change memory devices, electronic equipment, infrared lenses and optical fibres.


The University’s Composite Material Facility will also carry out research and development with the intention of manufacturing new and advanced materials.


Project 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 commented, ‘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.’

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